Presumed guilt by the international community for its failure to prevent the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 has often been cited as the reason for pussy-footing over alleged abuses by the Government of Rwanda. According to this view, President Paul Kagame has been given so much slack and got away with the most horrendous crimes because the international community has been immobilised by guilt.
This is utter nonsense. It is actually a cover for lies, dishonesty and arrogance when dealing with Africa – an attitude that has not changed for several centuries.
There has never been any remorse from the international community – and you cannot feel guilty if you are not remorseful. In fact, the evidence shows that nothing has changed. The international community still does things the same way as they have always done, including the same mistakes they made in Rwanda in 1994.
Massacres are still committed across Africa and the only response is long debates and occasional hand-wringing.
Entire populations are threatened with extermination and the world turns a blind eye (as happened in Rwanda).
Appeals are made to end the atrocities, and the evidence on the ground is compelling, but it is like talking to the deaf (as happened here before).
When regional initiatives are made to end conflict (as is happening in DRC), they are undermined. Non-governmental agents of some countries and their media megaphones fill the airwaves and newspapers with reports of how impossible a regionally-brokered solution is a non-starter and thereby put doubts in the minds of the public. This is what the politicians want.
Are these the actions and intentions of people feeling guilty and remorseful?
Perhaps the only sense of guilt is the feeling that countries like Rwanda have come this far when they should not – because they did so without the permission of the powerful countries.
There is also arrogance in this. How can tiny Rwanda have the cheek to stand up to the big bullies? Why can’t Rwandans behave like the rest who put their tails between their legs and run when confronted with a similar problem?
And now a new pattern of misdeeds by the international community, invariably against Africa, has emerged – systematic leaks of United Nations Reports to various media outlets before their official release. It has happened to Rwanda many times before in reference to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Now it is happening to Ghana in relation to events in the Ivory Coast.. This is an underhand method of swaying public opinion against African countries and leaders in the absence of factual evidence.
What is worse, these reports are leaked before the countries concerned have had the chance to see, let alone respond to them. This from the teachers of human rights and justice!
It is no coincidence that in the case of Rwanda, the excuse of guilt always comes up when the country is in a strong political and economic position. The country’s progress does not fit outsiders’ view of Africa and cannot be accepted. Peddling guilt becomes a convenient pretext to deny that Rwanda can move forward and earn respect on its own merit. Bur because the evidence that Rwanda is moving ahead on its own steam is too strong to simply wish away, some other explanation must be found.
There must be some external reason for this. Or something is not quite right internally. The progress must be at the expense of other important things, such as the right of a few individuals to hurt the rights of the majority.
And so, convenient labels will be found to tag guilt on the innocent so that they can be condemned without the feeling of guilt.
For instance, African leaders are labelled dictators for no other reason than that they are popular in their countries. How can they win elections with such huge numbers when in the West they win with a minority? How can you have nearly the whole population turn up at elections when in advanced countries only about a third of the citizens bother to vote?
Here is the dishonesty, coupled with arrogance: Western apathy and indifference become the benchmark for democratic excellence and enthusiasm and full participation is undemocratic.
If that tag won’t stick, there is always another one. Call them sponsors of foreign wars to plunder the wealth of other countries because their own are poor. Politicians and their non-governmental agents originate this view. The media publicise it. The unsuspecting public believe it. And the African leaders are damned. It does not matter whether logic flies in the face of such an argument, as in Rwanda’s case in relation to eastern D R Congo.
Rwanda’s interests, they are told, are best protected by enhanced stability in the region precisely because of the reasons given for alleged intervention in other countries’ affairs – tiny size, little or no natural resources, landlocked, and so on.
But, of course, no one believes Rwandans because they are obviously too stupid to have such a strategic thinking.
Clearly there is a lot of lying, arrogance and dishonesty in the international community. And this is a dangerous mix.