By Dayo Ntwari
The implicitly racist language with which western media and “NGOs” spread their anti-Rwanda hate, the closer Rwanda gets to the 2017 presidential elections is deeply disturbing. There is a lie that is being pushed in western media, one of an alleged “climate of fear” in Rwanda.
As I have said before on Twitter, there’s definitely a climate of fear. But it’s not in Rwanda. There’s a climate of fear about Rwanda. The fear that Rwanda will continue to rise. Nobody’s done more damage to Africa in modern times than these “progressive” Westerners of the Economist, HRW & Amnesty school of “thought”.
The fear about Rwanda is that our country is increasingly a symbol of inspiration on our continent. An example of a break from chronic subjugation. So when you’ve got a government in Rwanda that puts Rwandan interests first and will NOT be another African vassal state, OF COURSE western colonialist interests will fear this.
This video clip tweeted by The Economist follows the same racist footsteps. A central lie about President Paul Kagame is presented as fact: “Why are his people so frightened of him?”
In usual fashion, the Economist attempts to downgrade President Kagame’s respectability, by referring to him as “Kagame”, instead of “President Kagame”. This happens with all African leaders who don’t toe the Western line. You rarely see an American or European head of state not addressed along with their title, in western reporting. This chauvinistic ignoring of political/governmental roles is reserved for Africans and other dark-skinned folks of the “Global South”.
One of the more glaring displays of how much the Economist despises Rwandans can be seen in the Economist’s attempt to minimize the Genocide against the Tutsi: “Genocide of more than half a million people. The majority were Tutsis, but many moderate Hutu were also killed.” It’s come down to half a million now?
Each year, I observe how western media takes a hundred thousand off the number of victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi. One day, they will tell us only three people were killed in the Genocide, and they will stop calling it a genocide, all together.
Next, the Economist presents a single African voice who regurgitates the desired narrative about Rwanda: the ex-Prime Minister of Rwanda. First the Economist tries to convince you of the ex-Prime Minister’s credibility: the ex-PM tells you he lost 30 family members during the Genocide against the Tutsi. You are now expected to take everything else that comes out of his mouth as the incontestable truth. The Ex-PM then tells us (from his house in Belgium), that we Rwandans are living in tyranny here in Rwanda. He claims it’s a dictatorship, no freedom of speech, etc.
The Economist attempts to manufacture an image of President Kagame as a warlord. This is imagery that the Western audience is most familiar with, when talking about Africans with a military background: warlord, child soldiers, etc. The Economist tells you Pres. Kagame “has kept the peace at home, even as he’s pursued wars against neighbouring Congo.” No further elaboration is provided. A B-roll of supposedly African IDPs or refugees is played in the clip. That’s it. But what wars? What were the wars about? No further explanation. This just serves to flesh out the portrait of this African “tyrant” who wakes up in the morning and goes to war, simply because it is in his nature. That is the prevailing Western view about Africans. We are savages, because without the aid and approval of our white masters, we have no option but to sink into animal savagery. The insidiousness of the White Saviour Industrial Complex, is how it couches this deeply racist dogma inside seemingly caring and benevolent narrative.
Next up in the video clip, “Paul Collier Prof. of Economics – Oxford University”. This snippet from the professor is meant to prevent you from recognizing the fundamental malice in the Economist’s narratives against Rwanda. Prof. Collier tells us President Kagame has had his biggest success in “the reduction of mass poverty, which has been quite exceptional by African standards.” This is simply not true. Nevermind the condescension behind the phrasing “by African standards”. Poverty reduction rates in Rwanda have been exceptional by WORLDstandards! Not just “African standards”. According to a 2013 report, by Prof. Collier’s very same Oxford University’s poverty and human development initiative, Rwanda is among the “star performers” in poverty reduction levels, and identified as a place “where deprivation could disappear within the lifetime of present generations.” Tyranny? A media house of the West, where the wealth gap is an ever-widening chasm, where the richest 1% own as much as the rest of the planet combined, will have us believe Rwanda is a tyranny.
Well, the Economist continues its paternalistic dismissal of the agency of the Rwandan electorate, by framing the Kigali Convention Center as an epitome of “Kagame’s economic vision for Rwanda”. As, if we Rwandans are a mass of 12 million helpless children who are suffering at the mercy of a single man’s whim. Not once does the Economist acknowledge even in passing, that ours is a collective vision for our country. According to the Economist we probably don’t even understand what the word economy means, and therefore The Economist is here to save us from our own ignorance, right?
The Economist goes on to state that “some economists now talk of the Rwandan miracle.” This is immediately followed by presenting once again the “exiled” former PM of Rwanda: who is quick to remind us that “Kagame’s rule is based on tyranny. There is no freedom of speech”. You will hear this a lot, “freedom of speech” as the allegedly universal yardstick of a country’s level of democracy. There is freedom of speech in the United States, however the U.S. has the planet’s largest prison population, by far the planet’s largest military budgets and is at any given point engaged in dozens of wars and proxy-wars under the nebulous umbrella of the so-called War on Terror.
To the Economist, the ex-Rwandan PM’s baseless accusations supersede all that anyone of us 12 million Rwandans have to say. The ex-PM’s unfounded accusations supersede any established statistics and facts presented, be they from Oxford University, the UN, World Bank or anybody else. No. This one guy here … actually he’s in Belgium in “exile”, is trying to convince us here in Rwanda that we’re all blind and stupid and just don’t understand we’re living in “tyranny”.
The Economist continues, and says the ex-PM “challenged Kagame for the presidency” in 2003 and then states “in the official result, Kagame took 95% of the vote.” Then the Economist claims the victory was rigged. Another lie, presented as fact, with no supporting evidence whatsoever. 2003 were the first presidential elections in Rwanda since the Genocide against the Tutsi. And the Economist appears to be somehow shocked that the man behind the liberation of Rwanda from Genocide, when the whole world turned their backs on us and left us to die, got 95% of the vote? It’s like claiming Jay-Z rigged record sales because he sold tons more records than Lil Mama.
This is quickly followed by the ex-PM telling you how living in Belgium, away from Rwanda, has affected him psychologically. This is meant to shore up further sympathy for the ex-PM and make you malleable to swallowing his claims without any scrutiny. This poor guy, he’s sitting with his laptop in Belgium, thinking about us and missing us so much. Awww, poor guy, hm? He states he “must live freely in his country”. Well, if that is his genuine wish, why not hop on the next RwandAir flight back to Kigali, instead of trolling us from afar and being a puppet of neocolonialist lies against Rwanda?
The Economist tells us that “in reality Rwanda is a one-party state”. Yet another lie, presented as truth, with no further explanation or evidence. Here The Economist also lies by omission. It conveniently omits the easily verifiable fact that in Rwanda’s Constitution, under Article 62, it is stated clearly: “a political organisation holding the majority of seats in the Chamber of Deputies cannot have more than fifty (50%) percent of Cabinet members”.
So, a multi-party system is explicitly guaranteed by our Constitution. The only time The Economist even mentions our Constitution is to allege that in 2015 the RPF “ushered through a constitutional change which could in theory allow him to remain as president until 2034.” Notice the language used here: “constitutional change”. You see, in the framework of the White Saviour Industrial Complex, the following mental acrobatics are always adhered to:
“Constitutional amendment” = perfectly normal process in White people democracy
“Constitutional change” = African savages living in tyranny
The Economist commits another lie by omission: they don’t tell you that the amendments to the Rwandan Constitution came by a national referendum. Again, the perpetual outright rejection of the political agency and self-determination of an African people. The White Saviour Industrial Complex did not authorize our national referendum, therefore it must be considered null and void.
Again, Prof. Collier of Oxford gives his opinion in which he implies Rwanda is an autocracy. No evidence to support this is provided, and by doing so you are expected to assume this is so trivial a fact, it is so obvious it needs no verbose provision of supporting evidence. The white man said Rwanda is an autocracy, so it must be true.
Towards the end of this racist video clip, the Economist refers to our government as a “regime”. This is a standard approach by Western media when talking about any government in the so-called Global South that does not dance to the tune of the Masters of the so-called Global North.
“administration” = your govt is either a Western govt, or useful to the West, but not likely useful to you.
“regime” = your govt is useful to you, but not useful to the West.
There is a deep and casual implicit racism in the narrative peddled by the likes of the Economist and other “well-meaning” pseudo-progressive Western outlets. And this implicit racism is easily identifiable in the language used when describing the people of the African continent. These Western faux-liberal media houses call our leaders “strongman”, “despot”,“tyrant”. They call our governments “regime”, “junta”, “militia”, “rebels”. They tell you our political systems are “autocratic”, “dictatorial”, “tyrannical”, and that our countries are under a “climate of fear”, and “repression”. They tell you the so-called opposition is “imprisoned”, “murdered”, “exiled” and so on.
This deeply racist language comes from a historically colonialist mindset: the African is an animal incapable of viable human life, unless he is uplifted and controlled by the Western hand. This colonialist mindset that has been perpetuated since Europeans first came to the African continent to exploit and subjugate its peoples, this racist wannabe-progressive narrative will never change until the Western mind is fundamentally decolonized.