RWANDANS TAKE D.C. BY STORM

In what has become an annual ritual, leaders of Rwandan Communities across the U.S. met in Washington, D.C. at the Rwanda Embassy last weekend to assess the progress Rwanda has made, and strategize the way forward.

I am not aware of any other Embassy in the nation’s capital that galvanizes its citizens and challenges them to action in similar fashion. But this is not surprising.  Rwanda has made a mark on the world stage by many other firsts.

This leadership retreat is the brainchild of Rwanda’s maverick Ambassador, Mathilde Mukaantabana who has opened Rwanda’s Embassy to Rwandans like never before and challenged Rwandans to take an active and consistent role in fighting negationism, genocide denial and trivialization of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.

“If you don’t tell your story others will, and they will not tell it well or accurately”, Ambassador Mukantabana warned the Rwandan Leaders.

Representing Rwandan Communities in 16 states, these leaders are charged with organizing and ensuring an active role by Rwandans in the Diaspora in the affairs of Rwanda, at home, and being good ambassadors abroad, fighting those who seek to demonize The Motherland.

As opposition to Rwanda by her enemies and fringe opposition groups wanes, it is becoming increasingly obvious that their message, to begin with, had no substance, and at best, is empty, hollow slogans intended to divide Rwandans and incite ethnic hatred.

We have been there before, and it almost wiped us off the face of the globe. Such meetings and convictions are but the hallmark of the new Rwanda. We refuse to be defined by a bloody history, and we will not keep looking backwards. The way forward is to forgive, but never forget how we descended into the abyss, in the first place.

It is refreshing to observe the fiery participation in these gatherings by Rwaandan women, though not surprising. They represent that which is best in us, and gives you goose bumps to see how they have spearheaded the fight for gender equality at home, and depicted Rwanda’s spirit and soul across the globe glowingly.

If truth be told, Rwandan women have been the glue that held us together and nursed our wounds in our darkest hour. I refuse not to acknowledge their contribution to Rwanda’s healing. Through them we have shown compassion and civility, and the arrogance of forgiveness. This is the tonic to our wounded hearts.

The simple message from this retreat is that Rwandans abroad have a role to play in Rwanda’s development, and they will surely rise to the occassion, as always.

MWIHANGANE, TURI HAMWE, NTAKYO TUZABA NITUDAHEMUKA.

 

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THE FALLACY OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY

In the fourty six years I have lived in these United States I never thought I would see what we are seeing today. Richard Nixon is beginning to look like a saint (he was not), and his sins are beginning to pale in light of what we have seen in the last two weeks.

A racist, bigot, homophobe is occupying the People’s House – the White House, purely because during the most contentious campaign in history that we saw in 2016, Donald Trump lied and told alternative facts, and people swallowed it.

It is too soon to put everything in context, but a few issues come to mind.

Hilary Clinton was a very weak candidate, and most of the electorate did not trust her, especially women and the youths. She did not seem to have a clear message, other than the fact that she wanted to be the first woman president in America. Well, that was not enough.

Second, after a black President, think what you want, Americans were not going to elect a woman. On top of that, not Obama’s former Secretary of State whom they were convinced would preserve Obama’s legacy.

Racism is alive and well in America, and Trump appealed to the worst human instincts, and he did so openly, and won.

I watched the election returns in Kigali, and all my friends could not believe what we had just done. How could I in good conscience defend it, other than to say, the people had spoken and Trump’s win is the risk you take with democracy.

But is this really democracy? What happened to One Man, One Vote? Clinton got 2.86 million votes more than Trump, but she lost the election. Much for the Electoral College.

After this sham, can America really go around the world preaching to other countries about democratic ideals?

In the words of Mit Romney, Trump is a “fraud” and a “phony”. We are in for an interesting and tumultuous four years. I hate to think it could be eight, but I have temporarily lost faith in this Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

One thing is true, however, as parents here always tell their children: Even you, can be president. Look who is occupying the White House. Why not Mickey Mouse?

Trump is not going to make America great again. It already is. Those are code words to revive white extremism, bigotry and take us back 50 years.

Trump’s latest ban on immigrants is baffling, racist and does not make America safe. Even more pazzling coming from a man whose wives have mostly been immigrants. And his ban did not include Saudi Arabia, home to 16 of the 19 terrorists on 9/11. Could this be an attempt to protect his vast business interests in Saudi Arabia? I smell a rat.

That Donald Trump has his finger on our nuclear arsenal is worrying. It is going to be a rocky, dizzying and dangerous ride. Tighten your seat belts.

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UMWAMI KIGELI IS HOME, AT LAST

Today, many hearts in Rwanda are at peace, and a dark and sad chapter in our history is eerily coming to an end. UMWAMI KIGELI Ndahindurwa V’s remains landed at Kigali International airport and was met by family members and well-wishers. Another significant achievement of the New Rwanda.

The skies were blue, I am told, and the wind was gently blowing over Kanombe as the plane carrying Umwami’s remains touched down. Whether you believe in a republic or kingdom, this was a sweet and historic moment for all Rwandans to behold.

Yet again, we proved to the world that our sad and torturous history will never define our good intentions and resolve to mend our fences. Never.

Umwami passed away on October 16, 2016, after 58 years since he was dethroned in what has been erroneously, but purposely, as the “Hutu revolution.”

It was not a revolution, but a (vicious) genocide against Tutsi, and to call it otherwise, or seek to mute the intentions of those who planned and executed it is absurd. It is callous.

1959 was the precursor to 1994, the mother of all genocides. The planners and executioners of 1994 were seeking to complete the “job” they did not “finish” in 1959. Let’s not re-write history. Let’s call a spade a spade.

Every Rwandan of goodwill should be incensed by the drama, the sheer street behavior that took place in Virginia where Umwami passed on. That he has been lying in a morgue for almost  three months is a blot on our nation and conscience as a People. All manner of folks seeking to demonize Rwanda saw this as chance they could not pass, alleging that Rwanda had turned a blind eye on its own. These characters, most of whom one would be ashamed to be seen with, were falling over each other, posing in their expensive rented cars, trying to position themselves to exploit this sad affair for whatever political and personal gain and mileage they imagined. Even hyenas don’t behave this badly.

On allegations (that they could not prove, and therefore the basis of the court’s ruling to return Umwami’s remains) that Umwami had expressed wishes never to be put to rest in his country, these sundry of characters embarrassed us all as Rwandans, pained us beyond belief, and brought scorn on our culture and traditions that respects the departed. I cannot imagine the pain and grief this brought on Umwami’s family.

Noteworthy was the presence in Virginia of familiar characters of the alleged opposition, and one particular businessman who was financing all the shannanigans to exploit Umwami’s passing to his advantage, but to no avail.

Where were they when Umwami needed them most? How come they never sought to stand up and ease Rwanda’s pain, stop the bleeding, and mend a broken nation? Why now? Our culture looks down upon these hounds.

But, all dignity and decency was not lost. As always, when we are down and out, one of our own stands up and saves the moment. I salute Mzee Pastor Mpyisi, frail and in his old age shamed the scoundrels with his wisdom, command of history, fortitude, faith, and unquestionable love of Rwanda. He saved the day. He is, truly one of Rwanda’s remaining few sages. Our finest.

As we put Umwami to rest, deal with the pain and machinations that have brought us to this dark point in our history and caused us much heartache and grief, let’s not give up hope that Rwanda can, and will shine again.

Umwami has always been the magnet that united Rwandans. As we lay him to rest, let’s behold the wisdom of our ways and traditions, and solemnly swear we will never again revert to carnage to resolve our differences. We are better people than that.

With Umwami’s passing, a chapter in our history closes. But our journey is not ended.

 

 

 

 

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RWANDA 2016: We fared well, but …

True, 2016 saw many achievements in Rwanda, if you will, more than our detractors could have thought possible. But we waste much precious time engaging our worthless detractors and outright genocide deniers who do not believe anything good can come out of Rwanda, and in so doing give them credence they do not deserve.

No matter the evidence on the ground, Rwanda haters, RNC and a whole group of alleged opposition parties,  their accomplices, the so-called “Rwanda/African specialists and experts” are bent on demonizing and denying Rwanda’s progress and amazing transformation.

Let them suck egg.

We can list all our achievements till cows come home, but it falls on deaf ears, never mind that we are not the authors of the facts that are compiled by the World Bank, EU or the IMF.

The other day, in his column in THE NEW TIMES, my colleague and good friend Joseph Rwagatare penned that “2016 has been (a) good year for Rwanda.” You can say that again, brother.

Joseph is a good and deep intellectual, a damn good writer, but his words are (too) measured and carefully chosen. But here he is overly humble. Rwanda has done damn well, even a blind man can see our achievements.  In light of the negative press, (which he claims was not so bad in 2016 — unless we read different media)  we ought not be humble. From the ashes of our abyss we have built a nation that has become the envy of the continent. From the blood of our innocents springs of hope have sprouted all over Rwanda.

The list of our achievements in 2016 has been recited, ad nauseum. I won’t go there. Except for these. President Kagame was given an assignment by his peers in the AU to come up with proposals for reforming this ailing, almost irrelevant body. Just watch the man in action.

The just concluded AU Summit in Kigali was one of the best organized and most successful in the history of AU. Good crops cannot grow on arid land.

And yes, 2016 saw 9 genocide suspects extradited to Rwanda from Canada, the U.S. and Europe. If this is not an acknowledgement of how good and unbiased Rwanda’s judicial system is I don’t know what is.

France and the U.K. ought to pay attention and do the right thing: send genocidaires living in their midst to face justice where they committed their heinous crimes.

I am thinking: as they all landed at Kigali International to face justice that they have eluded all these years, these genocide suspects ought to be given a scenic drive through KIgali before they arrive at their new quarters which is going to be their new home for a long time so they can appreciate the new Rwanda. Kigali is no longer the slum they can relate to. But I digress  Let this realization sync in, and sync in mighty deeply.

It’s a new year and Rwanda will face new challenges. Come August we will go to the polls to re-affirm, I hope, our trust and confidence in Paul Kagame: one man that has, with a steady hand and nerves of steel steered The Motherland through thick and thin. He has not done it alone, but with the legendary firm resolve of Rwandans.

Our best times are yet to come.

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FIDEL CASTRO: “History will Absolve me”

On October 16, 1953, in a four hour speech in his own defense in court for his attack on the Moncada military barracks that led to the Cuban Revolution, Fidel un-apologetically uttered these words.

Yesterday, Fidel was laid to rest, and the conscience and spirit of the South American Revolution was shaken.

Castro was famous the world over, except in Miami where descendants and beneficiaries of the Batista corrupt and rotten regime live.

Had it not been for Fidel, African Nationalist movements would not have been successful. In 1975 Cuba deployed 60,000 troops in Angola to repel South African apartheid forces that sought to stop Angola’s fight for independence.

Angola, Mozambique, and South Africa owe much to Fidel for stepping forward when the rest of the world turned a deaf ear. Indeed, Cuban doctors were deployed in many African countries to save lives.

In memory of Africa’s best friend, let us behold these words from a great revolutionary and great mind:

1. “Men do not shape destiny, Destiny produces the man for the hour.”

2. “I am not attached to anything. I am attached to what it feels it’s my duty, to do my duty. I think that I will die with the boots on.”

3. “Nowhere in the world, in no act of genocide, in no war, are so many people killed per hour and per day as those who are killed by hunger and poverty on our planet.”

4. “Ideas do not need weapons.”

5. “We are not politicians. We made our revolution to get the politicians out.”

6. “I’ve always considered Christ to be one of the greatest revolutionaries in the history of humanity.”

7. “It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and a plan of action.”

8. “They talk about the failure of socialism but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America?”

9. “One of the greatest benefits of the revolution is that even our prostitutes are college graduates.”

10. “If we wish to express what we want men of the future generations to be, we must say: Let them be like Che. If we wish to say how we want our children to be educated, we must say without hesitation: We want them to be educated in Che’s spirit.”

Fidel is gone, but his ideas and spirit have out-lived nine American presidents who all tried in vain to assassinate him. And the world is better for it.

 

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KIGALI IS ROCKING!!!

Three days ago I touched down at Kigali International Airport. I don’t know about you, but it’s always an emotional come home, and one I always look forward to. And that is putting it lightly.

As we approached and were flying over the former presidential home in Kanombe, I couldn’t help but think of that fateful night twenty two years ago when Habyarimana’s jet fell from the sky, and in a single instant Rwanda’s history was changed, alas, written in the blood of millions of innocent victims.

And what a coincidence that the jet came tumbling down in the presidential compound. Karma is definitive.

Revisionists will have you believe that a single act of Habyarimana’s death sparked off  the mayhem of the next 100 days. We know better. It was all pre-planned. But that is not the subject of this posting.

As we approached the runway, there was Rwanda’s new joy, our brand new Airbus 300, in all is majesty, the sign of our vibrant economy, our resolve, and the first bird of  its kind in the region.

To our detractors and enemies I say, shut the hell up and come see the incredible progress this land Land of A Thousand Hills has made. Come experience the new Rwandan spirit, feel the resolve of a forgiving People.

When you enter the terminal, you are greeted by impeccably dressed young women in our national attire ready to welcome you. I felt a chill on my spine. And on the wall behind Immigration Desks are the words that I need NOT explain : WELCOME TO REMARKABLE RWANDA.

Indeed.

I was here last three years ago, but I could not recognize the new entrance to the terminal, nor the new streets. This dizzying speed of progress, I want to say, is uniquely Rwandan.

On the way into town, there stands the magnificent new Rwanda Convention Centre. The kaleidoscopic configuration on the roof and the optical illusion it creates says much about where we are headed. We are on the move, and there is no stopping us now. It is not an illusion folks, we refuse to be defined by a single tragic event in our history.

The City of Kigali has an impressive, and may be overwhelming sense of purpose. Everyone seems to take pride in what is around them. There is an obvious sense of ownership.

Some say it is all too good to be true. I say, dream on. At one time we were about to be written off as a failed State. But we took matters into our own hands and have created a thing of beauty.

You realize I am not discussing the cleanliness of our streets and environment. Why does anyone expect less? I find it insulting. But unless we tell our own story others will.  Unless we craft our own home grown solutions, others in foreign capitals will attempt to dictate policy to us.

I am here another month, and bear with me as I share the miracles of this sweet land of my forefathers.

It is heavenly to be home.

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MUNYAKAZI’S FINAL JOURNEY HOME: Long overdue

Leopold Munyakazi, 66, the man who dodged justice for 12 years is finally home to face justice for his alleged active and vicious role in the genocide against Tutsi in 1994.

Hard as he tried, Munyakazi exhausted all appeals, and not even his powerful friends in academia could save him.

As if to pour salt on a gaping wound, Munyakazi landed at the Kigali international airport, ready for this, in a Lear jet, and wearing a Lacoste sweater. His alleged victims never had a chance, many meeting their deaths by way of Nyabarongo.

It is hard to guess what Munyakazi was thinking as he descended the jet’s stairs. But it matters not. His time is over, and Lady Justice will take over from here.

As he was finally handed over to Rwanda’s finest, RNP, Munyakazi had a sheepish look on his face as handcuffs were finally clasped on him, thus ending his long run from justice.  It was a sweet moment to watch as this alleged killer was finally apprehended in a land where his vicious acts are alleged to have been committed.

That he has been extradited back to Rwanda is of vital importance. Survivors of the genocide should witness justice in action. Justice should not only be done, it should be seen to be done.

This also sends a clear message to other genocidaires hiding in the U.S. And there are many. You can run, but you can’t hide. We will hunt you down and the long arm of the law will soon or later catch up with you. The U.S.will not be a haven for genocidaires.

As he was led through the corridors of the airport in the custody of two RNP Officers, Munyakazi is seen smiling. Whether it is a nervous smile or a defiant one is of no consequence. He will have plenty of time behind the walls of “1930” to think about his dastardly deeds in the company of the likes of Leon Mugesera.

Evidence against this genocidaire is overwhelming. The National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) accuses Munyakazi of personally shooting dead one Felicien Ugirashebuja, in addition to openly inciting violence against Tutsi in broad daylight.

Munyakazi is a genocide denier per excellence. In a speech he delivered at the University of Delaware in 2006 he said, “There is a kind of international conspiracy to hide the truth about what happened. I refer to it as civil war, NOT genocide; it was about political power.”

Utter nonsense. A linguist by profession, Munyakazi knows well this is baloney, desperate words of a criminal mind.

Munyakazi goes on to say, “Ethnicity is not really understood about Rwanda; in Rwanda there are no tribes, there are social groups, they are one single people. It is quite wrong to say that GENOCIDE WAS COMMITTED by Hutus.”

These are insensitive and cowardly words of a killer trying to sound half educated, and Munyakazi knows it. Soon he will have his day in court, but such a plea would be foolish to advance.

This much is clear: Munyakazi will not be attending Rudasingwa’s up-coming conference on December 9-11 in Washington, D.C.to commemorate the alleged genocide against Hutu. He will be behind bars where he belongs.

WATCH THIS, and judge for yourself: http ://Youtu.be/-5xCPPPrR-Q

 

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