Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pan-African Self-determinaton & Self-criticism

One blogger Joseph Powell claims Uganda’s journalist Andrew Mwenda adds ‘the other side’ to balance the ‘dangerous’ ‘one-sided Western press’ coverage of the M23 mutiny in the DRC.

Andrew Mwenda points to the war against Al-Qaeda since 9/11 and the western support of armed insurgencies in Libya and Syria since the arab spring to justify the application of a similar logic in the fight against hutu genocidaires. This argument is not new, President Paul Kagame, in a speech at West Point in march 2010 said:
'contrasting the response to the 9/11 attacks in New York and the genocide in Rwanda, President Kagame pointed to the need to enhance international response, solidarity and cooperation, so that international threats "carry the same weight and meaning to all countries irrespective of which interests are at stake" and not only when the interests of powerful nations are threatened.'
First of all, let’s not forget that this narrative has served as justification for his regime to assassinate politicians, critics and journalists at home and abroad (like the US did with Osama Bin Laden), crush political opposition and sustain support of armed insurgencies in Congo.Ugandan tweeter Lonah Kamugisha @LKAMUGI SHA summarizes the obvious paradox in Andrew Mwenda’s words when he tweets :
‘Andrew you seem to agree that Rwanda is in DRC to counter the threat, then at a point u suggest those are rumours that kagame is supporting M23? Major contradiction’
To this day western press and analysts have focused mostly on ‘western guilt over the 1994 Rwandan genocide’ and ‘access to valuable grazing land and mineral production’ in an  attempt to explain both the seemingly endless US patience and Rwanda’s multiple adventures  in Congo. But, as Shanda Tonme could have said, all those explanations ‘are not sufficient’. Anthony Gambino came close to a real answer when he argued "During the Cold War, US foreign policy globally had clear priorities. That clear lens, however, disappeared with the end of the Cold War in 1990"
It’s not just guilt over the 1994 genocide, but also guilt over colonialism, guilt over support to the apartheidsregime in South Africa and guilt over supporting Mobutu during the cold war that created a window of opportunity for Yoweri Museveni and the revolutionary insurgency headed by his cuban trained head of military intelligence, Paul Kagame. Last week the new Secretary General of the African Union, Dlamini-Zuma, summarized the underlying narrative that served as cover and justification for these endless wars :
'a vision to wrest the thrust of African politics from the interests of the West, and ensure instead that Africans themselves determined their own reactions to the continent’s challenges.'
The march 30th interview with Ebba Kalondo, deputy Head of France 24 /RFI Africa Service, underlines why we should not underestimate the role this ‘pan-african’ narrative still plays:And then there was Mobutu (Sese Seko) who to me was an ekakunya, a black foot soldier of the colonial power who was then made chief, but remained a foot soldier of the colonial power’.

An Anglican bishop could have written in Rwanda’s New Times how the genocide teaches us, once again, that ''Man Is Wolf to Man'' or that all wisdom starts with fear of God. Instead bishop John Rucyahana, one of the Rwandan organisers of the M23 insurgency in Kivu, served communist inspired revolutionary slogans:
'the African Union should redeem its dignity and shape Africa’s destiny and stop being manipulated and exploited by her former colonial exploiters.
In conclusion, Africa should condemn very strongly and reject the European effort to re-colonize Africa by use of International Courts and other means being used to threaten the Sovereignty of African leadership.’
Africa might need men and women like Janusz Baruch to wrest the thrust of African politics from the claws of manipulative elites that use 'pan-african' slogans to avoid self-criticism. In the meantime, while dissecting the underlying narratives and heuristics of every actor (policy makers, journalists, citizens) in the region and beyond, we should see great value in John Adams’ words:
‘Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.’

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