POPE FRANCIS’ APOLOGY FOR THE GENOCIDE AGAINST TUTSI

Much as I am a non-believer (and son of a Bishop) I find Pope Francis a different kind of Pope: he is a courageous man, and seems hell bent (pardon the pan) on fixing much of what is wrong and rotten with the Catholic Church, especially pedophilia.

This Pope is also credited with trying to cleanse one of the most corrupt and rotten institutions in the world, the Vatican Bank, which is drowning in illegal Mafia money, all in the face, it is believed, of serious threats against the Pope’s life.

Who can ever forget his famous words “WHO AM I TO JUDGE” when asked about gays and their right to freely be who they are?

Let’s not forget that scores of Catholic priests are homosexuals in the closet. How else do you explain the rampant abuse of kids among their ranks?

So now Francis has met with President Kagame at the Vatican, and 23 years later after the genocide against Tutsi pleaded for forgiveness for “the sins and failings of the Church and its members.”

Words should matter, and people, even the Pope should be held to account. The Pope’s nimble words are nsulting and annoying. The so-called sins and failings of Catholic priests are nothing but felonious reprehensible conduct and should not be swept under the rug. The perpetrators should face justice and suffer consequences, not hide behind the ornate walls of The Vatican.

I know the Pope, like my late father, are men of the cloth and have a tendency to speak softly and dress up their words. But to say that these killers “succumbed to hatred and violence” is comical and a bunch of malarkey.

The priests and their followers who butchered Rwandans in churches and at altars all across Rwanda are nothing but murderers and common criminals — never mind that they were dressed in their white robes, swinging machetes.

Pope Francis is damn right: the face of the church was “disfigured”, just as it was during the Jewish Holocaust. Will his apology lead to “purification of memory” and “renewed trust”? Not until it snows in Kigali.

The genocide against Tutsi should never be trivialized nor forgiven. Lives were lost and millions (others) changed forever.

I can only find solace in Pope Francis’ words when priests and nuns alleged to have participated in the genocide against Tutsi are no longer given asylum at The Vatican and in parishes all over Europe. And if I were in the Pope’s shoes, I would personally go to Rwanda and “cleanse” the churches where my kith and kin fell, in broad daylight at the hands of priests and nuns.

But, like Francis, who am I to judge, but a simple Rwandan seeking justice for those who needlessly died because of the circumstances of their birth.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A MESSAGE FROM KIGALI

The 14th leadership retreat is about to conclude in Kigali, and the message from President Kagame is simple, and straightforward. He called on the leadership of Rwanda to rise up to their potential, reminding them that “we do not lack  competence ” to complete that which we have started.

The President warned against carelessness; ” Let us examine our malaise and get rid of it as fast as we can.”

That this retreat is being held at the RDF Combat Training Centre in Gabiro shows the seriousness and purposefullness of the exercise. Had this been held at some fancy resort or hotel, Africans are known to not take the agenda seriously, often with a cavalier attitude and the result is mere talk and no action. But, I digress.

Boy, there must be some very thirsty folks in Gabiro. But these are times that test men’s souls.

This retreat is uniquely Rwandan, and a credit to good leadership that holds our leaders to account. Time and time again, our leaders and civil servants must come forward to tell the nation what they have accomplished in the previous year, and explain away their failures.

It is indeed a meeting of minds where leaders exchange ideas, share experiences and learn from one another. Gone are the days when leaders took their positions for granted because there were no consequences to lack of performance.

This retreat also serves to remind attendees that they are public servants, not some special group of Rwandans anointed to their positions.

This is truly a good opportunity to evaluate how far the government has gone in implementing Vision 2020, a blaring example if you will of democracy in action, Rwanda style.

Compared to the chaos and the drama that has gripped Washington, D.C. in the weeks Donald Trump has been in The White House, Rwandans have every reason to pat ourselves on the back. What we are seeing at play in Washington is a rude and messy truth of democracy: people spoke and Trump is what we are left to deal with. It is un-nerving to think that this the best America has to offer. How shall we survive these four years?

It is my hope that our leaders will leave the retreat more focused, resolved to do better as President Kagame implored them to do, and determined to stop making excuses why they have fallen short of their mandate.

In the words of President Kagame, “What we have set out to do is not for the half-hearted, let alone the heartless.”

Rwanda is on the move and there is no stopping us. But we must never succumb to the weight of our achievements.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RWANDANS TAKE D.C. BY STORM

In what has become an annual ritual, leaders of Rwandan Communities across the U.S. met in Washington, D.C. at the Rwanda Embassy last weekend to assess the progress Rwanda has made, and strategize the way forward.

I am not aware of any other Embassy in the nation’s capital that galvanizes its citizens and challenges them to action in similar fashion. But this is not surprising.  Rwanda has made a mark on the world stage by many other firsts.

This leadership retreat is the brainchild of Rwanda’s maverick Ambassador, Mathilde Mukaantabana who has opened Rwanda’s Embassy to Rwandans like never before and challenged Rwandans to take an active and consistent role in fighting negationism, genocide denial and trivialization of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.

“If you don’t tell your story others will, and they will not tell it well or accurately”, Ambassador Mukantabana warned the Rwandan Leaders.

Representing Rwandan Communities in 16 states, these leaders are charged with organizing and ensuring an active role by Rwandans in the Diaspora in the affairs of Rwanda, at home, and being good ambassadors abroad, fighting those who seek to demonize The Motherland.

As opposition to Rwanda by her enemies and fringe opposition groups wanes, it is becoming increasingly obvious that their message, to begin with, had no substance, and at best, is empty, hollow slogans intended to divide Rwandans and incite ethnic hatred.

We have been there before, and it almost wiped us off the face of the globe. Such meetings and convictions are but the hallmark of the new Rwanda. We refuse to be defined by a bloody history, and we will not keep looking backwards. The way forward is to forgive, but never forget how we descended into the abyss, in the first place.

It is refreshing to observe the fiery participation in these gatherings by Rwaandan women, though not surprising. They represent that which is best in us, and gives you goose bumps to see how they have spearheaded the fight for gender equality at home, and depicted Rwanda’s spirit and soul across the globe glowingly.

If truth be told, Rwandan women have been the glue that held us together and nursed our wounds in our darkest hour. I refuse not to acknowledge their contribution to Rwanda’s healing. Through them we have shown compassion and civility, and the arrogance of forgiveness. This is the tonic to our wounded hearts.

The simple message from this retreat is that Rwandans abroad have a role to play in Rwanda’s development, and they will surely rise to the occassion, as always.

MWIHANGANE, TURI HAMWE, NTAKYO TUZABA NITUDAHEMUKA.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THE FALLACY OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY

In the fourty six years I have lived in these United States I never thought I would see what we are seeing today. Richard Nixon is beginning to look like a saint (he was not), and his sins are beginning to pale in light of what we have seen in the last two weeks.

A racist, bigot, homophobe is occupying the People’s House – the White House, purely because during the most contentious campaign in history that we saw in 2016, Donald Trump lied and told alternative facts, and people swallowed it.

It is too soon to put everything in context, but a few issues come to mind.

Hilary Clinton was a very weak candidate, and most of the electorate did not trust her, especially women and the youths. She did not seem to have a clear message, other than the fact that she wanted to be the first woman president in America. Well, that was not enough.

Second, after a black President, think what you want, Americans were not going to elect a woman. On top of that, not Obama’s former Secretary of State whom they were convinced would preserve Obama’s legacy.

Racism is alive and well in America, and Trump appealed to the worst human instincts, and he did so openly, and won.

I watched the election returns in Kigali, and all my friends could not believe what we had just done. How could I in good conscience defend it, other than to say, the people had spoken and Trump’s win is the risk you take with democracy.

But is this really democracy? What happened to One Man, One Vote? Clinton got 2.86 million votes more than Trump, but she lost the election. Much for the Electoral College.

After this sham, can America really go around the world preaching to other countries about democratic ideals?

In the words of Mit Romney, Trump is a “fraud” and a “phony”. We are in for an interesting and tumultuous four years. I hate to think it could be eight, but I have temporarily lost faith in this Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

One thing is true, however, as parents here always tell their children: Even you, can be president. Look who is occupying the White House. Why not Mickey Mouse?

Trump is not going to make America great again. It already is. Those are code words to revive white extremism, bigotry and take us back 50 years.

Trump’s latest ban on immigrants is baffling, racist and does not make America safe. Even more pazzling coming from a man whose wives have mostly been immigrants. And his ban did not include Saudi Arabia, home to 16 of the 19 terrorists on 9/11. Could this be an attempt to protect his vast business interests in Saudi Arabia? I smell a rat.

That Donald Trump has his finger on our nuclear arsenal is worrying. It is going to be a rocky, dizzying and dangerous ride. Tighten your seat belts.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UMWAMI KIGELI IS HOME, AT LAST

Today, many hearts in Rwanda are at peace, and a dark and sad chapter in our history is eerily coming to an end. UMWAMI KIGELI Ndahindurwa V’s remains landed at Kigali International airport and was met by family members and well-wishers. Another significant achievement of the New Rwanda.

The skies were blue, I am told, and the wind was gently blowing over Kanombe as the plane carrying Umwami’s remains touched down. Whether you believe in a republic or kingdom, this was a sweet and historic moment for all Rwandans to behold.

Yet again, we proved to the world that our sad and torturous history will never define our good intentions and resolve to mend our fences. Never.

Umwami passed away on October 16, 2016, after 58 years since he was dethroned in what has been erroneously, but purposely, as the “Hutu revolution.”

It was not a revolution, but a (vicious) genocide against Tutsi, and to call it otherwise, or seek to mute the intentions of those who planned and executed it is absurd. It is callous.

1959 was the precursor to 1994, the mother of all genocides. The planners and executioners of 1994 were seeking to complete the “job” they did not “finish” in 1959. Let’s not re-write history. Let’s call a spade a spade.

Every Rwandan of goodwill should be incensed by the drama, the sheer street behavior that took place in Virginia where Umwami passed on. That he has been lying in a morgue for almost  three months is a blot on our nation and conscience as a People. All manner of folks seeking to demonize Rwanda saw this as chance they could not pass, alleging that Rwanda had turned a blind eye on its own. These characters, most of whom one would be ashamed to be seen with, were falling over each other, posing in their expensive rented cars, trying to position themselves to exploit this sad affair for whatever political and personal gain and mileage they imagined. Even hyenas don’t behave this badly.

On allegations (that they could not prove, and therefore the basis of the court’s ruling to return Umwami’s remains) that Umwami had expressed wishes never to be put to rest in his country, these sundry of characters embarrassed us all as Rwandans, pained us beyond belief, and brought scorn on our culture and traditions that respects the departed. I cannot imagine the pain and grief this brought on Umwami’s family.

Noteworthy was the presence in Virginia of familiar characters of the alleged opposition, and one particular businessman who was financing all the shannanigans to exploit Umwami’s passing to his advantage, but to no avail.

Where were they when Umwami needed them most? How come they never sought to stand up and ease Rwanda’s pain, stop the bleeding, and mend a broken nation? Why now? Our culture looks down upon these hounds.

But, all dignity and decency was not lost. As always, when we are down and out, one of our own stands up and saves the moment. I salute Mzee Pastor Mpyisi, frail and in his old age shamed the scoundrels with his wisdom, command of history, fortitude, faith, and unquestionable love of Rwanda. He saved the day. He is, truly one of Rwanda’s remaining few sages. Our finest.

As we put Umwami to rest, deal with the pain and machinations that have brought us to this dark point in our history and caused us much heartache and grief, let’s not give up hope that Rwanda can, and will shine again.

Umwami has always been the magnet that united Rwandans. As we lay him to rest, let’s behold the wisdom of our ways and traditions, and solemnly swear we will never again revert to carnage to resolve our differences. We are better people than that.

With Umwami’s passing, a chapter in our history closes. But our journey is not ended.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RWANDA 2016: We fared well, but …

True, 2016 saw many achievements in Rwanda, if you will, more than our detractors could have thought possible. But we waste much precious time engaging our worthless detractors and outright genocide deniers who do not believe anything good can come out of Rwanda, and in so doing give them credence they do not deserve.

No matter the evidence on the ground, Rwanda haters, RNC and a whole group of alleged opposition parties,  their accomplices, the so-called “Rwanda/African specialists and experts” are bent on demonizing and denying Rwanda’s progress and amazing transformation.

Let them suck egg.

We can list all our achievements till cows come home, but it falls on deaf ears, never mind that we are not the authors of the facts that are compiled by the World Bank, EU or the IMF.

The other day, in his column in THE NEW TIMES, my colleague and good friend Joseph Rwagatare penned that “2016 has been (a) good year for Rwanda.” You can say that again, brother.

Joseph is a good and deep intellectual, a damn good writer, but his words are (too) measured and carefully chosen. But here he is overly humble. Rwanda has done damn well, even a blind man can see our achievements.  In light of the negative press, (which he claims was not so bad in 2016 — unless we read different media)  we ought not be humble. From the ashes of our abyss we have built a nation that has become the envy of the continent. From the blood of our innocents springs of hope have sprouted all over Rwanda.

The list of our achievements in 2016 has been recited, ad nauseum. I won’t go there. Except for these. President Kagame was given an assignment by his peers in the AU to come up with proposals for reforming this ailing, almost irrelevant body. Just watch the man in action.

The just concluded AU Summit in Kigali was one of the best organized and most successful in the history of AU. Good crops cannot grow on arid land.

And yes, 2016 saw 9 genocide suspects extradited to Rwanda from Canada, the U.S. and Europe. If this is not an acknowledgement of how good and unbiased Rwanda’s judicial system is I don’t know what is.

France and the U.K. ought to pay attention and do the right thing: send genocidaires living in their midst to face justice where they committed their heinous crimes.

I am thinking: as they all landed at Kigali International to face justice that they have eluded all these years, these genocide suspects ought to be given a scenic drive through KIgali before they arrive at their new quarters which is going to be their new home for a long time so they can appreciate the new Rwanda. Kigali is no longer the slum they can relate to. But I digress  Let this realization sync in, and sync in mighty deeply.

It’s a new year and Rwanda will face new challenges. Come August we will go to the polls to re-affirm, I hope, our trust and confidence in Paul Kagame: one man that has, with a steady hand and nerves of steel steered The Motherland through thick and thin. He has not done it alone, but with the legendary firm resolve of Rwandans.

Our best times are yet to come.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FIDEL CASTRO: “History will Absolve me”

On October 16, 1953, in a four hour speech in his own defense in court for his attack on the Moncada military barracks that led to the Cuban Revolution, Fidel un-apologetically uttered these words.

Yesterday, Fidel was laid to rest, and the conscience and spirit of the South American Revolution was shaken.

Castro was famous the world over, except in Miami where descendants and beneficiaries of the Batista corrupt and rotten regime live.

Had it not been for Fidel, African Nationalist movements would not have been successful. In 1975 Cuba deployed 60,000 troops in Angola to repel South African apartheid forces that sought to stop Angola’s fight for independence.

Angola, Mozambique, and South Africa owe much to Fidel for stepping forward when the rest of the world turned a deaf ear. Indeed, Cuban doctors were deployed in many African countries to save lives.

In memory of Africa’s best friend, let us behold these words from a great revolutionary and great mind:

1. “Men do not shape destiny, Destiny produces the man for the hour.”

2. “I am not attached to anything. I am attached to what it feels it’s my duty, to do my duty. I think that I will die with the boots on.”

3. “Nowhere in the world, in no act of genocide, in no war, are so many people killed per hour and per day as those who are killed by hunger and poverty on our planet.”

4. “Ideas do not need weapons.”

5. “We are not politicians. We made our revolution to get the politicians out.”

6. “I’ve always considered Christ to be one of the greatest revolutionaries in the history of humanity.”

7. “It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and a plan of action.”

8. “They talk about the failure of socialism but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America?”

9. “One of the greatest benefits of the revolution is that even our prostitutes are college graduates.”

10. “If we wish to express what we want men of the future generations to be, we must say: Let them be like Che. If we wish to say how we want our children to be educated, we must say without hesitation: We want them to be educated in Che’s spirit.”

Fidel is gone, but his ideas and spirit have out-lived nine American presidents who all tried in vain to assassinate him. And the world is better for it.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment