Let’s take urgent measures to ensure our survival
President Kagame has a point when he says slavery and colonialism may have ended ages ago but certain Western powers—which were the main initiators and benefactors of the twin evils—still have an agenda to control and manipulate poor countries and their peoples. Mostly African.
This they do either unilaterally or through a multitude of international institutions they themselves have set up, says the President.
Certainly nothing but a neo-colonial, racist mindset can explain the arrogance of a French judge, Jean Louis Bruguiere, and a Spanish one, Fernando Andreu Merelles taking it upon themselves to indict the entire leadership of an African country on charges they’ve tramped up. And on the basis of that issue international arrest warrants against that leadership. As they have done against Rwanda’s.
Neither Monsieur Bruguiere nor Señor Andreu ever stepped in Rwanda to ask a single question about the people they indict on their tramped-up charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Their indictments rest on nothing other than the allegations of self-confessed enemies of the Rwandan administration: genocide suspects, fugitives from Rwandan law, genocide deniers and apologists of the Habyarimana regime.
These are people like Michael Hourigan an Australian who was an employee of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and whose ICTR bosses sacked him for advancing theories—not backed by one shred of evidence—that Paul Kagame ordered the shooting down of the plane carrying Juvenal Habyarimana.
These are people like Emmanuel Ruzigana, formerly an obscure soldier within the RPA (before it became the Rwanda Defense Forces) who deserted the army, went to Uganda and was sponsored by the French government to go live in France—from where he surfaced as one of judge Bruguiere’s “witnesses.”
These are individuals like Andre Guichaoua a French academic who is a well known genocide denier and revisionist and Philippe Reyntjens the Belgian academic whose claim to fame is his virulent hatred of the Rwandan administration.
But now get an earful of this: among the people Jean Louis Bruguiere talked to as he prepared his indictments were Theoneste Bagosora and Hassan Ngeze.
Focus knows it for a fact that the French magistrate was in Arusha in 2006 to talk to these notorious criminals and gather “testimony” of alleged RPF atrocities.
The irony of it is mind-bending. It is as if a judge in the 50s were using the testimony of a Herman Goering or Josef Goebbels to indict a future Israeli leadership.
The disrespect for us (in Africa) that these judges display is astonishing even now when such things should long ago have ceased to astonish.
Double standards in justice
Rwanda has filed charges at the International Court of Justice against France for the conduct of Jean Louis Bruguiere in issuing his indictments and arrest warrants. The French government, Rwanda says, has been Mr Bruguiere’s enabler as he went about this business.
Kigali judicial authorities Focus talked to say their grievance with France is that Mr Bruguiere’s procedures fall far short of international legal standards, and that the involvement of the French government to enable the judge forward his tramped up charges is in clear violation of the same standards.
By forwarding its case to the ICJ the only thing Rwanda was doing was try to defend itself against being framed by a judge motivated by whatever his reasons. And all Rwanda expected of the ICJ was to act as a neutral arbiter and call France and Mr Bruguiere to substantiate their case.
But it is over a year now since Rwanda filed the charges and France and Monsieur Bruguiere are yet to appear before the ICJ. And why should they anyway, since they are secure in the knowledge they are rich and powerful and can frame poor people at will and get away with it?
No doubt about it. There is one standard of justice for the rich and powerful and another for the poor masses of Africa.
Our dependence syndrome
The one source of all the indignities we in Africa suffer; the source of all the disrespect we endure at the hands of the rest of the world is, if I may state the obvious, the fact that our countries essentially are beggar states.
We may claim we are independent. But as long as we are economically dependent on former colonial masters and institutions like the IMF and World Bank, and the aid industry, and emerging superpowers such as China; as long as we have no technological or industrial base of ours to make our nations powerful, we shall continue to suffer. Suffering that includes humiliations such as watching charlatan French and Spanish judges induct our leadership with impunity.
Africa’s great failure down the ages has been its peoples’ inability to adapt the right mindsets, the right attitudinal approach to solving their problems.
The first step would be a widespread realization on our part that much as it may look as if the World Bank has given us a favorable loan or grant, much as the European Union or USAID or DFID or the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) or some other donor arm of a rich country have sponsored this or that national program or injected money directly into the national budget, it is catastrophic to go on depending on donors for our very survival.
When we get a few hundred million dollars from America to fight this or that disease, when we get a few computers from the Chinese to provide this or that school, when we get a few hundred thousand dollars from the international football federation (FIFA) to set up a soccer school, we clap our hands happily.
I scan the faces around me to see if there is a sense of unease about the whole business and I see none. We are beggar nations but not many of us seem to be troubled by that fact.
Walk anywhere into an African government office; you won’t find a real sense of alarm that to live we have to depend on the handouts of others—handouts that come tied with all kinds of orders to do this or that; things that may not necessarily always be good for us but that mean we actually still are colonized and enslaved.
Yes. That is the truth.
A good number of African individuals talk bitterly about our dependence. But they only pay lip service to the commitment to breaking the dependence at some future point.
The truly sad part is watching governments all over the continent begging for scraps of aid rich nations throw our way and then turn around in the evening to roundly condemn the United States, Britain, France the EU etc for “interfering in our business.”
YOU ARE A BEGGAR SOCIETY; TRY TO GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER FIRST THEN YOU WILL BE IN A BETTER POSITION TO OBJECT TO OUTSIDERS INTERFERING IN OUR BUSINESS.
The need for change our education systems
We need to change our mindsets and mentalities on this continent. No doubt about it, fostering a wider change in people’s mentalities has to be a very difficult exercise. But it is one that has to be undertaken. We have no choice but to try it. With concerted, long term efforts it can be done.
Of course one can’t come up with a single set of proscriptions for a continent as wide, and with peoples as varied as in Africa.
But in the Sub-Saharan region, home to the poorest most disrespected people on Earth, you have an almost similar set of problems that with the right approach on the part of its leaders, its educated elite, its progressive elements, can be solved with the same set of solutions.
Here is what we need: We need to invest as much of our meager resources as we can in the education of our peoples. By education I mean we need to think outside the box.
We need curricula developed for our specific needs…lets pay whatever money we have to bring in reputable organizations or consultants to help us develop those curricula, with our close input of course.
Our people need to be cured of the debilitating inferiority complexes they contract through our underfunded, poor education systems that almost all are remnants of colonial systems.
We need to pay more attention to what is taught in our remnants-of-colonial-education schools that teach many of Africa’s children to write and read and speak English, French, Portuguese and other European languages but leave them with the conviction a black African is no good at anything at all.
Problem one: our colonially inherited education systems leave people with the ability to parrot other people’s ideas, not to think for themselves.
Problem two: these “education systems” of ours do not teach children and the youth values such as thrift, hard work, creativity, proper management of time, respect for other people (most relevantly in our cases, respect for other ethnic groups), and respect for ourselves.
Problem three: whatever few young Africans graduate from our miserable universities do so with the mentality that the best way to make it through life is to get some big government post and quickly line your pockets.
Our poor education systems are without doubt the biggest source of our problems. They are the reason why our educated elite cannot adequately tackle our other myriad problems—poverty, hunger, disease and the enormous challenge of lifting ourselves out of the cycle of dependence.
The time is long overdue to take bold steps to change our education systems. But in the meantime we need to do the small things in our daily lives that in themselves can make a big difference.
Little things that cost very little but that can make an enormous difference
1) Do things promptly:
Do not relax like some Rwandan bureaucrats who discourage businesses by taking several months to for instance process pay, thus severely constricting their cash flow, making it difficult to pay their staffs and take care of overheads like power and water bills, let alone turn a profit. Surely many jobs get lost this way, exacerbating unemployment and the attendant poverty.
2) Arrive at meetings on time:
If it is 9 O’clock let it be 9 O’clock. Always be punctual so as to liberate yourself from the stupidity of so called African time. You may not realize it but if you liberate yourself from that stupidity you will be playing a big part in solving this continent’s problems.
3) Learn the value of teamwork:
You may not like your workmate but do not let your emotions get in the way of work. Americans, Europeans and other successful people too have their emotions; they have their hatreds and peeves and petty jealousies and petty envies and chips on their shoulder.
The reason they are successful is they don’t allow these emotions to affect their mission which is geared to one objective, namely to advance the interests of their company, their country, their community, the sports team. Wherever it is they work and whatever it is they do.
African, learn to work as part of a team. Liberate yourself from letting your emotions disrupt everyone’s progress and ultimately yours.
4) Develop a positive attitude about yourself and other Africans:
For years you have been told Africans are stupid and so can do no good. You internalized this thinking long ago. This leads us back to those remnants-of-colonialism-education systems whose aim was to teach you to read and write while at the same time you slowly got brainwashed that you and your ancestors are stupid Africans that never invented a thing and so you have to depend on white strangers forever.
Liberate yourself from it. You aren’t stupid and neither are other Africans. Just get your act together and be like the Chinese who too at some point were tyrannized by white foreigners but now are becoming a world power.
5) Walk quickly. Work quickly. You have a lot of worth. You can tap into that potential.
Then possibly at some point in the future no African will have to suffer the numerous humiliations and indignities we do today.