The uprising in the Arab world; Tunisia, Egypt, Libya should not be seen or construed as civil disobedience, turmoil or anything of the sort, but rather a sign that, when dictators decide to close all avenues of possible peaceful transition to the much-needed democracy, they pave way for exactly what we are seeing. And anyway, the demonstrations can still lie in the category of peaceful quest for freedom. Don’t they? Zenawi, Kagame, Yaya Jameh and other unrepentant dictators on the continent will disagree of course.
Closing all avenues in this case means; silencing the population with heavy state machinery, no meaningful elections, no dialogue and no participation in issues of national interest by the citizens. Citizens are share holders who won’t and should never sit and see their stake being shared between a few self-promoted individuals. The uprising in the Arab world offers another lesson; issues not personality cult should be the deciding factor in issues of governance and national survival.
In the past, it’s been about dictator one by one turning African countries into personal entities, changing constitutions at will to serve their interests, and now, it could be time for the real shareholders to demand their share-freedom, rights and above all democracy. It’s only fair.
There is no doubt that every African keeps an eye on what is going on in that part of the world, the north of the continent. The reasons for this vary; but the most paramount is that, about all African citizens are craving for democracy…meaningful democracy and a more accommodative political discourse. The uprising in every sense, offers serves good lesions for Zimbabweans, Rwandans, Gambians, Ethiopians, Eritreans and many others on the continent.
In Rwanda for example, people will be reminded that they have been silenced by Kagame’s regime to the level where only a selected few individuals decide for ten million Rwandans; the exodus of Rwandans into exile and the ever increasing number of political prisoners in the Central African country is a big testimony to the escalating authoritarian rule in Kigali.
Rwanda a country that, sixteen years ago witnessed one of the worst massacres of innocent individuals in the 1994 genocide of tutis and mass massacre of innocent hutus, is now ruled by a ruthless, intolerant dictator who uses genocide as tool to silence any form of dissent and opposition. And like in Tunisia, Kagame and his close relatives have taken over the wealth of the small and poor country, investing millions of dollars of the country’s wealth in their private businesses, thanks to the lack of powerful institutions to question such actions.
The rule of law has been well replaced by Kagame’s instructions; anyone who dares to question his decisions will face the wrath of compromised judges, prosecutors, Police and the known and unknown intelligence and national security apparatus serving Kagame.
The media world over is awash with stories of how the independent media has been well crashed in Rwanda, opposition intimidated with trumped up charges mainly of genocide ideology, divisionism and spreading harmful propaganda. There is virtually no any political space in the country.
To pencil in a few facts here, the recent concluded presidential elections were marred by intimidation, political arrests including one of the Kagame’s lead rival, Ingabire Victoire, who doesn’t expect a fair trial, assassination of another opposition leader, Kagwa Rwisereka and killing of a critical journalist, Leonard Rugambage. Several others fled for their life.
Despite all this, Kagame has thrived thanks to among others the huge uncritical support he enjoys from the US and UK, his two strong allies and lead donors of both development and military support. Kagame, unrepentant war load who for many years has unleashed terror on the neighboring Congo, living many Congolese homeless and hopeless, remains a darling of the two countries and continues to establish himself to position himself as a life president using the same personality cult that the Khadafis an
d Mubarakas used. And while, American can criticize Khadafi, Kagame is portrayed as an exemplary leader on the continent.
Today, Rwandans can only look to the northerners for inspiration. For Rwandans to ever dream of democracy, good governance, justice and equality, it’s important to look at the courage and determination of the Arabs. Of course, there a million differences both structural and cultural, like the literacy level, issues of race and all, but, lessons are there to be learn; Rwandans must know, that their destiny lies in own hands and efforts; they must realize that, an autocratic regime that Kagame has established can only be crashed by the share holders of Rwanda, regardless of whether the US and UK support him or not.
Like the Khadafis, Kagame has amassed a lot of wealth over the last sixteen years, not from anywhere else but the taxes of Rwandans and their resources. His accounts are well protected in Europe and America, while his properties including executive jets were exposed recently in South Africa. Rwandans know, they deserve better and like the Arabs, it’s within their powers to stop Kagame. Africans have spent a longtime trying to learn from the Western world on how to achieve democracy, but, it hasn’t worked. Now, the Arabs offer practical lessons with the dominating ingredients being courage and determination.
It’s only natural that the US and UK will continue to support Kagame as long as it serves their own interests and stake, but, Rwandans cannot be deterred by that support. The two and others with hidden interests will continue to praise Kagame and talk up Rwanda’s amazing recovery and development even when Rwandans are being shot on the street, politicians being jailed, journalists freeing for their life as long as their interests are met. We can only expect that.
I’m insisting on the donors because, about every Rwandan I talk too, is adamant that, unless the US and UK withdraw their blind support from Kagame, change is a dream. I think Egyptians have proved everyone with such thinking wrong. Of course, America will want to play big role in shaping future of Egypt from here, with a need to protect its interests, but, they may fail, if the people’s resolve remains intact. It’s time for Africans to act; it looks sure and Rwandans cannot be left behind