Monday, April 25, 2011

“Remaking Rwanda” or “Wishing to deconstruct Rwanda”? by Pan BUTAMIRE

Remaking Rwanda” or “Wishing to deconstruct Rwanda”?

The inseparable pair of Scott Straus and Lars Waldorf is a pair in despair. Their very credibility as scholars (the first as Associate Professor and the latter as Senior Lecturer), is on the line. In a last-ditch effort, they’ve drawn together a whooping 26 fellow ‘experts’ so that together they can salvage their withering legitimacy.
Alas, their envisioned saviours have no shred of credibility left either, their predictions on Rwanda having all proved wrong. The 28 are a scattering of shady individuals who have at one time or another pinned their hopes of raising their profiles on peddling ‘expert knowledge’ and seeing those hopes shattered by a changed Rwanda. Yet theirs are the opinions that Straus and Waldorf have edited to produce what they are calling a “new book”!
A friend above, Joseph Rwagatare, described the mob most aptly and I wouldn’t like to spoil his suave delivery, but the very delivery has given me an irresistible urge to sound my support. When you see a posse of 28 ‘experts’ converge on one small African country to give their ‘expert’ view, you know they are in a legitimacy crisis. It may be the end for the usefulness of their heaps of research on the malaise of African countries. What are they going to vend for their daily bread?
However, mine is to talk about, rather than mourn, them. A lot can be said about their constantly recycled opinions, but let’s throw a cursory look at one opinion of the inseparable Straus-Waldorf ‘Siamese twins’. (So inseparable they share one opinion!) They express it in an article dispatched on 12th August 2010, after Rwanda’s last presidential elections. “As expected,” laments the dyad, “President Paul Kagame has just won… unconvincing 93% of the vote.”
Rwandans go to the polls eagerly to show their preferred choice and in massive numbers decide that choice is Kagame but no, the Siamese Strauss-Waldorf decides that vote is “unconvincing”. Is there any evidence of election malpractice or has anybody been stopped from freely expressing their will? Nope, but the ‘authoritative’ professor-lecturer couplet has decided the vote is “unconvincing” and so the donor community should listen.
The “donor community”? Oh, yes, listen: “….with the election over, Rwanda’s donors and investors may be tempted to get back to business as usual in one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. That would be a terrible mistake.” Even if you give the twin teachers the leisure of taking this country to be run by “donors and investors”, who wouldn’t be happy to make the “terrible mistake” of being associated with “one of Africa’s fastest growing economies”?
Indeed, they admit: “…two trajectories have been apparent. The first is impressive social reconstruction, economic growth, transparency, stability along with Kagame’s charisma [which] have made the country a donor darling and investment opportunity.” This is all laudable, of course, but it does not answer to the scholarly picture of a ‘normal’ African country. So our scholarly ‘experts’ must rummage around for any discarded dirt that may lend credence to their assertions.
And what stereotype can be better than the typical malaise for any African country? States the Strauss-Waldorf set: “The second trajectory is increasing authoritarianism and inequality, which have worried not only human rights organizations but also the US State Department and UN agencies.” The fact of where the emphasis is should not be lost on anyone. It’s not on whether Rwandans are being affected by any authoritarianism or inequality but whom Rwandans are annoying. “Annoying” by not toeing the typical African line.
Or else, what is authoritarian about having innumerable forums of exchange, as is the case in Rwanda? Presidential press conferences, presidential ‘meets-the-people’ and ‘one-to-ones’ with any individual on earth, literally any time of day and night, especially on twitter. And to my knowledge, it’s only in Rwanda where there are forums that bring together members of the executive, legislature, judiciary, local leadership, private sector, civil society, citizenry – practically everybody – to brainstorm on a common path for the future.
As to inequality, no one need get worried. As in any country, of course, there are rich and poor Rwandans. But the core purpose of the above forums is to agree on a way of minimizing the poor-rich gap. It will be impossible to eliminate, understandably, as it also depends on the initiatives and energies of individual Rwandans. What is important is that no one is denied access to any government facility or privilege, and no one is favoured, because of their station in life.
The many programmes that have been put in place over the last 17 years attest to the efforts undertaken by the RPF-led government to ensure a fulfilling life for every Rwandan. The programmes have been elaborated countless times in this paper and elsewhere and need no repeating. Let it only be known that Rwandans have identified with and espoused them. They have become one with them.
Otherwise, those recycled articles the 28 call “Remaking Rwanda” should be treated with the contempt they deserve.
In fact, at the risk of hurting your sensibilities, I’d dismiss these so-called ‘experts’ as a bevy of bawds, hawking lies for a living!
Twitter: @butamire 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Remaking Rwanda: only Rwandans can do it: By Joseph Rwagatare

Another book on Rwanda by non-Rwandans is now on sale in bookshops and on the internet. Remaking Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights after Mass Violence, edited by Lars Waldorf and Scott Straus, was officially launched yesterday.
The book is a collection of articles by a group of people who have made it their mission to shoot down anything that the government of Rwanda does.
The new book should be seen as the latest project of an association of what may be appropriately called “Genocide Deniers Inc.” and “Hate Rwanda Ltd”. The editors have brought together the works of a wide array of members of these two groups.
They include self-confessed enemies of the Rwanda Patriotic Front like Filip Reyntjens, habitual accusers as Kenneth Roth and perpetual gripers like Carina Tersakian.
There is a long list of people who have arrogated themselves the role of interpreting Rwandan history to Rwandans. This group includes Timothy Longman, Sarah Warshauer Freedman, Harvey Weinstein and Karen Murphy.
Others like Eugenia Zorbas, Jason Stearns and Federico Borello visit the failures of the international community in the region on Rwanda and hope that will absolve them of guilt.
Then there is a whole collection of people who thrive on the “Hate Rwanda” industry.
Their articles in this book are not different from what they have written about Rwanda in the past and can easily be dismissed as a rehash of past criticism that does not take into account current developments.
Nonetheless, Remaking Rwanda is significant. However, its significance does not lie in its accurate historical, political or economic analyses of today’s situation in Rwanda. It does no such.
Most of the so-called analyses are dated or outright lies. Rather, it commands attention as a devious attempt by the editors and contributors to remake Rwanda to suit their preconceptions.
Indeed the writing displays a bias and deliberate distortion that can only be evidence of the authors’ frustration that it is Rwandans and not they who are remaking the country and taking it in a different direction.
The intention of the editors comes out clearly in the title of the book. They avoid calling the killing in Rwanda in 1994 by its proper name – genocide – but prefer to refer to it as “mass violence”.
This blanket and non-definite reference to a specific, definable event allows them to smuggle into this period other forms of violence with the aim of equating them to the genocide and thereby reducing its magnitude.
The same bias (actually, dishonesty) is evident in the nature of the research into the articles and their publication.
Most of the articles in the book were presented in London in March 2009 at an event organised to pay tribute to Alison Des Forges.
It does not need much imagination to notice the close resemblance between the theme of the event, “Reconstructing Rwanda, fifteen years after the genocide: a tribute to Alison Des Forges” and the title of their new book.
This similarity is no coincidence. Des Forges had turned into one of the most outspoken detractors of Rwanda before she met her tragic end. The tribute to her was a sort of celebration of her attitude and ideas on Rwanda.
Naturally the presentations were slanted towards her thinking. It is for the same reason that presentations at the March 2009 London event that did not fit into this pattern of thought were not included in the present book.
As pointed out earlier, some of the authors have a vested interest in distorting the situation in Rwanda.
For instance, Filip Reyntjens was one of the intellectual architects of the Habyarimana regime.
He was responsible for creating a powerful one party state that excluded significant sections of the population and giving the president extensive powers. The present government is sworn against foreign intellectual manipulation and has undone his work.
And so because Reyntjens cannot penetrate it and exercise the sort of influence he had previously, he has chosen to undermine it, and by some miracle now plays at being an enlightened champion of democracy and political inclusion.
Kenneth Roth is staking out his claim as heir to Alison Des Forges.
Historians, led by Timothy Longman, distort history out of pique. Their Rwandan colleagues in a project to design a history course for Rwandan schools rejected their incorrect interpretation of Rwandan history.
None of these can be disinterested writers on Rwanda.
Contributors to Remaking Rwanda are a self-serving and self-advertising lot.
The literature that informed their research is narrow and restricted to the circle of writers that contributed to the book. What comes out is a mutually reinforcing book of similar recycled views.
It is clear from their present and past work that the contributors to Remaking Rwanda have a strong aversion to the RPF government. They accuse it of an ambitious, but untenable social engineering project.
They criticise everything, from imihigo (performance contracts) to poverty eradication strategies; gacaca to land ownership and use; agricultural practice to human settlement policies; education and health insurance to self-sufficiency in many aspects of national life.
To be fair they admit that there has been progress since 1994, but quickly add that it is unsustainable and predict it will all unravel and the country once again explode into violence.
This may be dismissed as wishful thinking. But it also betrays the desire and even calculations of the contributors to the book. Remaking Rwanda certainly expresses the wishes of its writers. On the ground, however, Rwandans have moved to remake their country in a way that expresses their aspirations.
Twitter: @jrwagatare



Dr. Jean Damascene BIZIMANA

FILIP RENTYJENS was a senior advisor to the late President Habyarimana and the Dean of the Faculty of Law in the National University of Rwanda. He was the sole author of the1978 Rwandan Constitution that institutionalized one party state. It is under this system that the genocide ideology and regionalism were solidified and later to culminate in 1994 genocide.  Despite the tremendous progress and achievements since 1994 Tutsi genocide in various sectors of all the nation life, Filip RENTYJENS is still stuck with old lenses that make him fail to see any good in the new Rwanda.
Fillip RENTYJENS was last in Rwanda 1994 during the genocide, however he continues to proclaim himself as an expert even on the new Rwanda.
He has since published many articles deliberately distorting facts on Rwanda.

For example in his article “Constructing The Truth, Dealing With Dissent, Domesticating The World: Governance In Postgenocide Rwanda” (2010).
In this article, Filip asserts that “there is consensus in the international scholar community that Rwanda is run by a dictatorship with little respect for human rights, little attention to the fate of the vast majority of its population made up of ever poorer peasants, and little awareness of the structural violence its ambitious engineering project engenders”. Filip REYNTJENS conveniently forgets that Rwanda’s development policies are cited as ground-breaking innovations towards poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa. For instance, during the last MDG Summit, Rwanda emerged as a top-performer. Instead of growing rural poverty, Rwanda’s Rural Development Policies such as Ubudehe, Girinka, Health Care, SACCO, have empowered the rural population marginalized by the former government advised by Filip REYNTJENS

Filip REYNTJENS falsely states that ‘the only noticeable exceptions [in the scholar community] are Phil Clark and William Schabas’.  However, by his own admission Filip deplores that ‘Kagame travels from one award ceremony to the next’. Furthermore, Fillip REYNTJENS only cites scholars belonging to his school of thoughts.
In one of his books published immediately after the genocide “Les Risques du Métiers” Filip writes that “I have proved that I never trust RPF at the beginning of the war”. This clearly demonstrates how Fillip was not prepared from the beginning to see anything different from the genocidal regime that he served.
It also shows why Filip has been hostile to the RPF led government since 1994 to date.
Given Filip’s intimate background with the regime that planned and committed genocide in Rwanda, Filip will never see anything positive in Rwanda today.




In 2006 when the said lady came to do her PHD in Rwanda, she had twice visited the country and had made up her mind on the Rwanda she wanted to portray. So, she says: “I don’t deal with the truth per se in the research.”
And, indeed, nowhere in the research does she attempt to deal with that truth, unless it is inevitable.
The whole research is therefore a pack of lies and there is a reason: in Butare, the town to the south of Rwanda where she was based, a man who had confessed to killing six people lived in her backyard. This is the man who “had a big impact on my research.” She fell in love with the génocidaire because “He was just a regular guy. Killing was a survival strategy for him.”

This researcher finds it all too normal that the génocidaires of Rwanda should kill 1.250.000 million innocent Tutsis for being born Tutsi, and any Hutu unwilling to join the killing okey, because “Killing was a survival strategy.” And for that she receives an IDRC Doctoral Research Award that is accompanied by CA$20,000!
To boot, she says: “……the knowledge gained in Rwanda will be invaluable…..[it] will also feed into security debates in Canada and elsewhere, and inform debate on the value of local knowledge in the social sciences.” Apparently, the sky is the limit, so why not heap more abuse on Rwandans?

The lies, however, may be too bizarre to take seriously for even those with a flitting knowledge of Rwanda. With a straight face, for instance, she says: “….the post-genocide government erased the traditional identities of Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa.” Surely, which government is this lady talking about?

While the RPF government sees no value in mentioning these ethnic labels – which were used to identify Tutsis during the genocide, in any case – there is no law banning these labels and people use them all the time, even if many prefer to see themselves simply as Rwandans. Whatever value this lady sees in singing about them is only good for her doctoral research work.

She rubbishes the world-acclaimed Gacaca court system, not because it has practically empted prisons of génocidaires and helped to foster reconciliation but because people are “overwrought” and Rwanda’s “pharmacies are full of anti-acids.”
Things have been invented about Rwanda before, but what this lady is claiming is over the top! She visited all the pharmacies in the whole country and saw that every Rwandan who attends Gacaca courts is “overwrought” and needs “anti-acids”?
 She goes on to claim that Hutus are marginalised and all are suspects. How would Rwanda be having a majority of Hutus in positions of leadership if “all Hutu men are presumed guilty of genocide”, as she claims, surely?

She claims to have taken part in seven Gacaca sessions and, on top of that, one session of Ingando (awareness creation) was not enough for her. She attended five Ingando sessions, which puts five months of awareness-creation – on the same topics! – under her belt! I don’t even know what “hard-to-collect documents” she landed upon in those Ingandos. Maybe secret files, aka ‘WikiLeaks’!
In an article she published in January 21, 2010.

She is right that Rwanda is not yet on the level of Canada and there is “poverty and hardship”. But what are bleuprint papers like ‘Poverty Reduction Strategy’ and numerous programmes supposed to serve?
To cite only a few: free compulsory universal 9-year education; health insurances at less than US2$ every year for 97% of the poor; grass-thatch eradication; Girinka programmes where the poor are given a free cow on rotational basis for better nutrition; better land utilisation programmes; agriculture modernisation programmes; the list goes on and on.
The harp on Tutsi elite being favoured no longer finds currency even in the harshest armchair critics these days. That is why the lady ends up tying herself in knots when she claims Tutsis are favoured over Hutus. Says she about Rwandans: “For most of them, Hutu and Tutsi alike, life….is not…bright and shiny as the authorities in Kigali would pretend.” That on top of “Tutsis being favored”.
Of course, the pet topic of all Western critics of this country takes pride of place in her litany of lies: freedoms. So she weds through the usual muddle of: no political space; no freedom of expression; harassment and the lot. And she offers us a point of reference. But that reference is not the 11 million Rwandans that we know!
It is a disgraced and distressed individual who is in exile after being found wanting in his performance in delivering to these Rwandans. Mr Joseph Sebarenzi is in exile because he tried to “constitutionally limit” the powers of the president, we are reminded. It would seem that our former speaker single-handedly constituted the constitution!
The lady even makes the grand revelation that the government forces Hutus to tell the truth of what they did during the genocide and Tutsis to forgive them. And thus is cobbled together a reconciliation. Since the reconciliation effort we know has worked, I wonder why this government has not made a rocket!
Rwandan peasants are thin, she says, and blame it on “continued hunger”, in a country that has achieved total food security for the first time since the colonialists were in power. I wonder if she has looked at some of our top leaders – would she blame their sizes on continued hunger.
But the clincher must be her suggestion that the RPF is sure to fall by end-2010. Apparently, we are living on borrowed time! Definitely a dream not come true, showing her preoccupation is wishful thinking – wishing that this successful project Rwanda were not real.

The truth on Rwanda will slowly come out, lady, and then your PhD expertise will go with the wind. Such a pity, for you could have used your time more profitably.



The work of these unprofessional and unethical researchers is a Research that deconstructs Rwanda as a Nation.  From the very title of their Article:  Teaching History after Identity-Based Conflicts; one clearly sees ENEMIES OF RWANDA and Researchers not worthy of the name Researchers.

The article in question emanates from a joint research with education stakeholders in Rwanda led by the National Curriculum Center (NCDC).  The research aimed at developing a new approach to the teaching history after the 1994 Tutsis genocide.

A book whose copyright was owned by NCDC “TEACHING THE HISTORY OF RWANDA: A PARTICIPATORY APPROCH” was developed. From the onset, the above unethical researchers wanted to own the copyright of this book to no avail. They resorted to plagiarism and distorted the facts from the book to fit their line of thinking reflected in their article entitled: TEACHING HISTORY AFTER INDENTITY BASED CONFLICTS: THE RWANDA EXPERIENCE.

Let us take some highlights of their naked lies in their article:
1. “In Rwanda tensions were heightened by the government’s educational policy, which stipulated that only its official historical narrative should be transmitted. “

This is not correct. There is no such a thing in education policy. Where is the source on which these researchers based this assertion?

2. “In a post genocidal context that continues to be marked by repression, we found, through our research, that educators may inhibit disagreements— including potentially productive ones—for fear of their erupting into larger and more destructive conflicts. We argue that suppressing open debate might actually lay the foundation for further societal violence.”

This is a deliberate distortion of facts because the research in question brought together all education stakeholders as is reflected in the TEACHING HISTORY OF RWANDA: PARTICIPARTORY APPROACH book. Moreover, debates on the history of Rwanda had been on for 5 years before the research in question was initiated.

“3. In Rwanda, given the extent and severity of destructive conflicts and an increasingly repressive government, the political landscape is fraught with difficulties that intensify fears about productive conflicts. Those with power are primarily Tutsi who grew up as refugees outside the country but who returned after a rebel army they supported ended the 1994 genocide and took control of the country. A small but powerful minority, they hold definite ideas about Rwandan history that are not in harmony with those held by many Rwandans (Pottier 2002; Longman and Rutagengwa 2004; Straus 2006). “

This is not true; it simply portrays researchers with preconceived sectarian and divisive stance against the government of national unity. The sources quoted are themselves widely known for their biased data and equally compromised interpretive scheme against Rwanda.

By any standard of research, SARAH WARSHAUER FREEDMAN, HARVEY M. WEINSTEIN, KAREN MURPHY, and TIMOTHY LONGMAN were very irresponsible because they relied on ideas held by Pottier 2002; Longman and Rutagengwa 2004; Straus 2006 who are equally notorious for distortion of facts on Rwanda. No responsible scholar can ever use data that she or he has not verified. Where it is necessary to use information that is impossible to confirm, you need to stipulate clearly that any conclusions reached on the basis of this information are tentative and unverified. In order to make unqualified assertions, you need to verify every bit of the data (Nakanyike B. Musisi & Edgar C. Taylor III 2010)                                                 

One of the pre-conceived conclusions and unprofessional nature of SARAH WARSHAUER FREEDMAN, HARVEY M. WEINSTEIN, KAREN MURPHY, and TIMOTHY LONGMAN is reflected again in their following unethical statements within their research: 

4. “During this research, the Rwandan project coordinators and leaders were Anglophone Tutsi returnees from Uganda, the group with the most political power. The chief writer was a Francophone Tutsi returnee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the second most influential group in Rwanda today. Most of the working group leaders were Francophone. As such, the leaders may not be representative of the overall population, as it is difficult to find all groups equitably represented in positions of power in the country. While aware of these limitations, we were cognizant that entry into the educational system required collaboration with those in power. The onus was on our research group to ensure that other voices entered the curriculum design process.

Curriculum Designers in this research were selected on the basis of their abilities and areas of specialization not on any other ground. Therefore, the classification of research participants on the basis of origins in terms of language abilities and assumed power relations is simply a creation of the authors; which is in itself unethical and would most likely   negatively influence interpretation of data generated in this research. As such, conclusions based on wrong premises have no credibility and research outcomes are in this case void.

5.“For all of the workshops and seminars, our Rwandan collaborators agreed to try to balance participants according to ethnicity, as well as other variables related to power—including experience with the genocide, length of time living in Rwanda, gender, and geographical region”.

One would pause a number of questions:

a.      How did these unprofessional researchers know that the project coordinator was a Tutsi?
b.      How did they know that the chief writer was a Tutsi?
c.       What could have been the intention of approaching this research from the ethnic perspective really?
d.      there was no single moment when we were requested to sit according to our ethnic groups and geographical regions.
e.      If they took their time to find out clandestinely which ethnic group and region an individual member belonged to then, the research was already biased and unethical whose outcomes could not be credible.

By simple analysis, these claims echo some of RWANDAN fugitives and political renegades roaming around the U.S.A from whom SARAH WARSHAUER FREEDMAN, HARVEY M. WEINSTEIN, KAREN MURPHY, AND TIMOTHY LONGMAN appear to be affiliated to, get such unprofessional information for their own interest. 




The two, Kenneth Roth and Longman have been determined to fight Rwanda national building programs, among them Rwanda Gacaca courts. In Kenneth Roth “The power of Horror in Rwanda” (2009), he argues
 “One tool of repression has been the Gacaca courts -- informal tribunals run without trained lawyers or judges -- which the government established at the community level to try alleged perpetrators of the genocide”.
Timothy Longman in his article “Reevaluation of Gacaca Courts in Post Genocide Reconciliation” (2010), he argues that Gacaca courts have been a tool of fear and control for an authoritarian regime under guise of seeking justice”

After the genocide which left over one million Tutsis dead, the justice system had to deal with detainees in prisons who were over 120,000 as well as suspects who were still in the community. The majority of trained judges had either been killed or run out of the country into exile.
It was therefore, estimated that with the remaining few judges and lawyers, the classic court system would have taken over 100 years to dispense justice. Both the victims and the culprits who never live to see justice.

The objectives of Gacaca courts therefore, were both to administer justice and promote unity and reconciliation. The mission of Gacaca courts included among others;

To disclose the truth on genocide;
To speed up genocide trials;
To eradicate the culture of impunity;
To reconcile and strengthen unity among Rwandans;
To demonstrate the Rwandan society’s capacity to solve its own problems

The total number of cases tried is 1.237.256 and has been put to an end the culture of impunity and highly contributed to national reconciliation. This therefore is completely different from Timothy and Longman assertion that Gacaca courts have been used as an instrument of repression in Rwanda.
The two gentlemen arguments are characteristic of human rights watch (HRW), which has consistently weighed a protracted struggle to undermine the achievements and numerous success of the current government of Rwanda.




Carina has consistently demonstrated pathological hatred for Rwanda. This is the reminiscent of HRW which she represented in Rwanda in 2010. In her book le “Chateau: The Lives of Prisoners in Rwanda”,  she argues that in “In Rwanda, every aspect of prison life is defined by overcrowding.  The standard width of a prisoner’s living space is 40 centimeters.  The prisoners call this their “château”, their castle.  Many prisoners sleep outside, exposed to the sun and the rain.  Family visits last just three minutes”.
According to ICRC assessment of Prisons situation in Rwanda, the prison occupancy is 120 percent while prison occupancy of most European countries is over 125percent. The Rwandan standards in terms of occupancy, aeration, nutrition and many other indices are above international set standards. This informed the grounds on which the international criminal tribunal of Sierra Leone chose Rwanda as the best place for their prisoners. Indeed, Rwanda is keeping 8 of Sierra Leone prisoners.

Carina is a renown advocate of the extremists, genocide negationists and terrorists like FDRL (a recognized terrorist group), FDU and others. All these go along with her questionable personal integrity.
Carina TERTSAKIAN is characterized by ethical deficit. She used forged documents from HRW in order to secure a work permit and a visa from Rwanda migration services which resulted into her expulsion from the country in April 2010.