By Pan Butamire
Mr Harold E. Acemah. When cool-tempered Joseph (Rwagatare) expresses a strong opinion on an individual, it means “things are elephant”, as some people would say. So, when he did it about this Acemah, I sat up and did a quick scan of the latter’s write-ups on Rwanda.
To have a wider view, I also enquired among Rwandans who were here in the 1970’s. The man can bring out the bitterest bile in the most saintly of Rwandans and there is a reason.
Otherwise, how can such an elderly man abuse his shining, bald dome and be incapable of mitigating emotions with reason? This, especially when writing in a respected newspaper like The Daily Monitor of Uganda.
It reminds me of NRM cadres when they emerged from Ugandan bushes, full of revolutionary thought. They were so fervidly scornful of people who clang to the backward ideas of the regime they’d overthrown that they called them “biological substances”.
But for the strong Catholic values that have put me back on the path of the rightful, I’d have been obliged to talk in similar vein about our “expert” across the border. So unchanging are his impressions with a regime.
A doubtful deadbeat that Rwandans have no interest in listening to, daring to insult our honourable minister? Listen to him, in last Sunday’s Monitor: “Ms Mushikiwabo owes Mr Kikwete and Tanzanians an apology for her unbecoming outburst which borders on uncouth and uncivilised conduct!”
The temerity of the layabout! For freely expressing her opinion about what Rwandans felt was a piece of advice in bad taste, Minister Mushikiwabo should apologise. For Acemah’s information, our minister expresses the opinion of Rwandans.
For having had a short stint here as a low-ranking diplomat and having been cosy with Habyarimana’s “akazu”, and for having been able to cosy up with the Rwandan female charm of the time, reportedly, now the fellow has the confidence to dispense “a few lessons in etiquette 101” to Rwandans! Says he: “Her extremist, knee-jerk and holier-than-thou attitude and reaction are standard practice of intolerant people……” Poppycock!
One thing Mr Acemah can be sure of, advise any Rwandan to engage FDLR in talks and they will give the same answer, even if they take a month to think it out. Except, of course, the so-called opposition, mostly in self-imposed exile.
All in all, Mr Acemah is misguided when he compares governments in the world that have engaged their rebels in talks with Rwanda. The guerrilla army (FARC) that has waged a protracted war against Colombia does not have as its guiding objective the agenda of wiping out a section of Colombians, as FDLR has of some Rwandans. Egypt or Israel, neither country has tried to commit genocide against the other. Why does Acemah limit himself to only those two examples anyway? Might it be because he knows he cannot convince anybody?
For balanced comparison, our knowledgeable counsel should have added the Jews and asked them why they have never invited Nazis to a negotiating table, wherever they may still be in the world.
This, in fact, is the sole example he should have quoted. Except for the Batutsi in Rwanda, no other people saw anybody carry out genocide against them in the past century but the Jews. If Acemah feels free to dispense another of his free pieces of advice to the Jews and sees light of the next day, I swear I’ll raise my hat to him!
Hats apart, though, as we have observed in his write-ups, his fervent intention is not to defend President Kikwete or to do a comparative study of who engaged who in talks. His sole intention is to express the strong hatred that he harbours for today’s Rwanda and to clear the image of his bemoaned close and intimate buddies of the time.
But the way I see things, if he is to mourn the Rwanda of yesteryears, it’s going to be for the rest of his days on this earth. For, unfortunately for him, the Rwanda of his time is gone for good. Today, Rwandans have seen the light and have embraced an inclusive Rwanda that none will have the capacity to tear up ever again.
Among the defining principles of Rwanda today is that of being fiercely defensive of the dignity of all her people. Together these people will fight anyone, high or lowly in their society, neighbour or distant foreigner, that tries to twist a sword in the wound of our genocide survivors.
The infantile excitement he displayed when The Daily Monitor accepted to publish his opinions showed a man who was eager to write pieces that would guarantee his family an income. He should see the desperate situation a certain American called Peter Erlinder is in, after daring the wrath of the gods of Rwanda. Acemah and your ilk, high or low, close or distant, stand warned!