The New African Order

 

 

There is something momentous happening in the Great lakes region, the tectonic plates are shifting and this will have a ripple effect for most of Africa. The proof will be in the pudding, no one is massively excited but there is a change of mentality in the leadership. The transition in DR Congo is still having a huge effect in realigning the region, the Alliance between the Two Dynasties of Kabila and Tshishikedi caught many off guard and it has many scrabbling to shift course. It seems that Rwanda was privy to the Alliance, even essential to it surviving as an alliance, removing Rwanda as a pretext for war in Eastern DRC. This would now deprive numerous rebel movements of a cause, a détente was not enough, there had to be a cooperative agreement with Rwanda. The other Axis to this Alliance was Angola, the Western counterweight to balance this union, Angola also has had peaceful transition of power, it has also worked to dismantle the business Empire of the Dos Santos clan. Where does this leave Museveni? He was the “Guarantor” of peace in the region, he protected Rwanda from DRC, he protected DRC from Rwanda, he protected South Sudan from North, protected CNDD, he protected what? The Great Lakes was like Europe in 1914, so many shifting alliance that never held long, waiting for a trigger to set it all off. Museveni benefitted from the war of nations in his regions, with Uganda as a safe haven for the money. This was not regional peace, this is why the Rwanda-Uganda crisis is really a reorienting of Rwanda’s economy, away from Uganda-Burundi in a North-South Axis, towards a East-West Axis as a conduit for DRC-Tanzania trade to open up the Shangri-La of Eastern DRC riches.

 

Cutting the Umbilical Cord

 

Rwanda did not have much of a pre-war economy in 1990, even less so in 1994, what little we had was destroyed. Into this vacuum came Ugandan traders, Congolese as well, but the Ugandan carpetbaggers were the most successful. Almost everything was imported from Uganda, this has reduced but we are still adjusting. Take spare parts as an example, Rwandan traders in Gatsata, Nyabugogo, Gakingiro were highly dependent on Uganda, they kept just one piece of each part for display purposes only, when a customer came they’d tell you to come back the next day, they order cheap from Kampala and send on Jaguar Bus after you slap on a huge profit. This made Rwandan traders so lazy, there was always undersupply and high prices for parts because they don’t buy in Dubai like the Ugandans. You can multiply this across several sectors, text books in education, to medicines, to bread, to even mandazi. Ugandan exports to Rwanda have reduced from $500m to a trickle, this opens up opportunities for Rwandans to invest to these sectors but capital is hard to come by. The north-south Axis of Uganda to Burundi is what defined Rwanda until now, the door to Uganda is closed, as is the road to Burundi, but the door to DRC is open. Rwanda and Uganda were effectively co-defendants tied by their past accusations in DRC, always scared one would snitch on the other. Uganda and Rwanda were tried, Rwanda was found innocent and having grounds to invade DRC at the time. This triple-alliance should bring an end to need for the war economy, peace makes more money, no doubt pacification will take time but we are on the road to peace in the region.

 

This new diplomatic master-stoke is a vindication of Rwanda’s handling of the Uganda crisis, to not just avoid war but guarantee peace in the long term. The slow simmering conflict had taken months to come to a boil. Uganda, it has since been proved, was colluding with Rebels hostile to the Government of Rwanda. It has been operating training camps in DRC to build an army that would eventually topple the Kigali government, while also kidnapping and torturing Rwandan citizens in Uganda. It was just another story to me until it happened to someone I knew, he was kidnapped at a wedding in Bugolobi and held for months. I remember I made a fuss about it on Twitter, I castigated our officials for doing nothing to help their citizens. I stressed that they would have to issue a travel advisory, to state clearly whether or not it was safe to travel to Uganda. I was called a troublemaker, people were more concerned with protocol than lives. While my friend was locked up incommunicado at Mbuya Barracks, the guards came and told him he was all over Twitter and was causing a fuss, he said he knew he had hope because many had died anonymously. He was released 2 months later as the border crisis came to a head. At the time, the worst elements among us wanted war “Kisangani Part III – This time it’s personal” but this begged the question – what about after that war?” war was out of the question but many wanted it, it would destroy everything we built. Worst of all, it was what Museveni wanted, a war with Rwanda would rally the nation behind him and give him a pretext to suspend Democratic pretenses altogether.

 

The solution was not war with Uganda, it was to find alternative trade routes and partners, war with Uganda would not solve that. Once you solve that problem then war is unnecessary. It is like eating in a restaurant where they poison you then you want to fight the chef to make him stop poisoning you, eat somewhere else. This is why cooler heads prevailed, because machismo and posturing will not solve our economic problems. This new orientation comes at a time when Tanzania-Rwanda relations are at an all-time high, the two governments work very efficiently together and this is Rwanda’s future, the two most important relationships will be TZ and DRC. No other relations will matter as much as those, Rwanda will be a conduit for goods from DRC heading to Dar-es-Salam, we will process and smelt some of the minerals here. This will make the triangular trade profitable once the railway and other projects are completed. Rwanda will no longer have to go to Congo, Congo will come to Rwanda, it just needs electricity and a railway. Then we can see the opening up of the so-called “Heart of Darkness” the colonial model used to in slavery is still used today. Minerals for guns, which breeds more war, which brings more minerals, which brings more guns, which brings more war…… Museveni was the Tipu Tipp of this paradigm. Where does this leave him? The people you were protecting from each other are friend now.

 

I never thought the Congolese would accept this but they have, Pres. Kagame even received a standing ovation in a full stadium in Kinshasa. Rwandair is flying regularly like nothing ever happened, Rwandans are going to visit their old houses in Lumumbashi, Kinshasa, Mbuji-Mayi. Rewind back to October 2017, I was at Gatwick waiting for a plane when a Black Frenchman asked me to mind his daughter while he went to correct their tickets at the counter. We really bonded and he thanked me, asked for my contacts, when I told him I was Rwandan, he changed. He said he was from Congolese parents and we killed his people. I was carrying his daughter and he snatched her me and said he was disgusted I even touched her. I thought at that moment that peace would never be possible, if a Congolese-Frenchman from Toulouse feels like that, what of “real” Congolese. It turns out my fears were misplaced, human beings are just human beings, they want peaceful coexistence and a chance to better themselves.

 

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When brothers fight, a stranger inherits

 

 

All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey

Relations between siblings are never easy, it becomes about more than what is at stake, it becomes a battle for primacy and oedipal love. The recent border “closing” if we can call it that has caused a stir. It is all an administrative decision to divert trade and greatly inconvenience haulers and grind trade to a halt. To make it clear, trade was not blocked but made to go through the eye of a needle, Rwanda could not close the border, they signed up to free movement of trade in the EAC. If Rwanda had arbitrarily closed the border it would be liable to be sued by traders for losses unless it prove it was a national security reason. So the border is closed, yet it is open, both sides covered. The sanction had an immediate effect, two Rwandan detainees were released at the border and recounted harrowing torture and injustice. How did we get here? It has been a long simmering conflict that should never have been allowed to fester, Rwanda cannot afford and does not want to fall out with Uganda. Many Rwandans took the silence of Rwandan government on these detentions as a tacit admission that the detained were guilty. It is only when you look at the facts that you see the wider causes of this conflict, the recent manifestations are just a symptom but causes go deeper than what you see.

 

The Kale Kayihura vacuum

The removal from office of the Chief of Police Kale Kayihura left a massive vacuum in the security apparatus in Uganda. Museveni had relied on him for 10 years to maintain control, Kayihura was his fixer in everything. During that time Kampala often became a urban war zones with daily rioting and tear gas, armoured vehicles, pink dye water cannons, Museveni withdrew to his ranch and cattle, he effectively retired as president. Museveni left government to be plundered, as long as people remained loyal they could eat and destroy the government. At the same time many countries were taking forward strides, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopian, were racing ahead while Uganda remained stagnant. Most of the Uganda Opposition was under house arrest, Besigye could not leave his house, Museveni was just holding on for sake of it. Kayihura came to be more powerful than any man in Uganda save for the President, he absorbed all the hate from society and was a favourite scapegoat though he was just following orders. To remove him was not easy, Museveni tasked his old enemy Henry Tumukunde, who had been in the cold for long, to create the scenario to remove him. There was soon a civil war in the security services, Pro-Kayihura and Anti, Kayihura could not just resign, he needed to be destroyed first. This incentivized liars against Kayihura to make up evidence which they were handsomely rewarded for, and Kayihura was accused of being the head of spy-ring of double agents for Rwanda. All these charges were thrown out in Court Martial, Kayihura was sidelined, now came the purge to remove all his loyalists, then came the attacks on Rwandans.

 

 

The Kulayigye effect

There was a 10-year window when relations between the two were relatively good, there were often flare-ups but nothing serious from 2006-2016 window. I’ll never forget tuning in to BBC Gahuza and hearing a heated discussion between the RDF spokesman Rutaremara and UPDF Spokesman Kaluyigye in fluent Kinyarwanda, in fact the UPDF speaker had the better Kinyarwanda. Having a Kinyarwanda speaking spokesman was seen as a benefit to Uganda, having the Chief of Police who spoke Kinyarwanda and had relatives in the Rwanda government was also seen as an advantage. Uganda signed many treaties of cooperation with Rwanda, the Military and Police cooperated, we exchanged wanted criminals, RDF conducted rescue operations in Uganda in natural disasters. It seemed the vision of a cooperative future would follow, but this cooperation was built on good cordial relation of individuals, not the systems. The removal of Kayihura meant a change in relations with Rwanda, the cooperative network we had was now a “spy-ring”. Agents who cooperated with Uganda and assisted in regional matters were now being arrested and held in communicado, tortured, not offered medical help, consular visits and legal assistance. However, while some of the arrested were known agents, the vast majority of 800 people arrested and tortured were just innocent Rwandans. Any person with false information was believed because to fit the political narrative that Museveni wanted to hear. He is at an all-time low in popularity, the youth hate him, he needs to unite the country behind and a war with Rwanda would do that, but he could not be seen as the first so he had to provoke Rwanda quietly.

 

The Expendables

Sometimes you see a movie plot so outrageous that you have to watch it, The Expendables had all the 80’s and 90’s Action Heroes in one film. Arnie, Stallone, Chuck Norris, Van Damme, Snipes, Jet Li, and so many other in a movie, coming together for “one last mission” but it’s always a Box Office flop. These Stars each commanded billions on their own, now they can barely break even. The same has happened with Rwanda, it seemed ridiculous to hear of intel reports claiming Uganda is assembling the RNC, FDLR, CNDD, and various other armed militia and groups into the P5 which is already operational in DRC, I dismissed it till it came up in a UN report not friendly to Rwanda. We have gone from cooperation to actively supporting rebel groups against Rwanda, it might just be Museveni hedging his bets but it is a foolish gamble likely to fail. Maybe it is him just trying to get into the rich Congo mineral game, maybe he’s hedging his bets on overthrowing RPF, or maybe he’s senile. The heart of the problem is Museveni has run out of excuses, he has no long term vision for his country, he no longer understands the challenges facing his country. The price of his power is corruption and letting the Elite plunder the state, this means no money for medicines, books, computers, roads, or if you get them they are overpriced because corruption is factored in. Then just over yonder hill lies a relative paradise, not a perfect land by any means, but at least we’re trying. It is much easier for M7 to try and bring down Rwanda than emulate it, it is impossible with him in power with no cohesive vision for the Bazukulu. He wants to impose his regional power by getting in bed with Genocidal forces that would love to kill his people. It is like a black man working with the KKK just defeat his black enemy but the KKK would gladly kill you both. FDLR would love to kill every Muhima in Uganda, that is their goal, nothing has changed, like they want to kill every Tutsi in Rwanda, Museveni will eventually bring a genocide on his own blood.

 

What happens in Kisangani, stays in Kisangani

In 1999, for 6 days in Kisangani Rwanda and Uganda fought a war, no one knew the cause but the outcome was clear, little Rwanda won. Kisangani was the point of rebirth for Rwanda, it made us believe again. We always viewed Uganda as a vastly superior to ourselves, we thought we needed Uganda’s help for everything, it was like beating your older brother in a fight, you come of age and gain respect. Museveni later blamed Rwanda for blindsiding him, he wasn’t expecting it, he had spoken to President Bizimungu and he said it was fine to fire on Rwandan troops. That was his mistake, Bizimungu was not commanding the army, Kagame was, Bizimungu had no right to assure him of anything. It made us believe, and within a year and some months the clamour for Paul Kagame to be outright president was too strong to ignore. The issue at stake in Kisangani was lack of respect, Rwandan soldiers in NRA were considered 2nd class to Ankole soldiers, Rwanda was always considered an extension of Uganda, Uganda thought Rwanda owes them and will be subservient. This attitude persists to this day, the only thing that unites Ugandans is arrogance towards Rwanda. Banyarwanda were essential in overthrowing Obote and the Okello’s but what broke our bond was the same problem that broke the Acholi-Langi axis. We have been rustling each other’s cattle for centuries, it wasn’t seen theft but returning stolen goods, we fought wars, defined ourselves in opposition to each other. Then we found ourselves in a position where we were both oppressed, we fought to remove our oppressors but the old enmities come up.

 

In the end, I think Kagame and Museveni have outgrown each other, Kagame’s mindset and Museveni’s mindsets are very far apart not. Kagame is at every global event, pressing the flesh, making connections, getting investment, trying to plug into the global economy; Museveni is mostly napping at his farm watching his cows. Imagine trying to explain to Museveni what a “wireless router” is or what “Formatting a HD” means? I imagine the blank stare, then some story about the Chwezi dynasty. I hate dynastic succession but I would prefer Muhoozi in power now. At least he knows what we are talking about, at least he uses computers and the internet, at least he understands the challenges of the 21st century. The problem is mindsets, Museveni is closer to Nkurunziza than Kagame, they used to understand each other even in their worst times, not now. So we should see the border back open again soon, the point will have been made, now the story of detained Rwandans is open and embarrassing Museveni we hopefully will see a change. Finally this hare-brained scheme of working with genocidal forces that wish to kill you just to spite your brother, is stupid. Above all, get a vision for Uganda, a war with Rwanda will not unite Uganda and make them forget Bobi Wine. Only a vision will unite Uganda, that is what you need.

 

Without a vision, the people perish

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Why Did English Miss Rwanda?

 

 

Everything is everything

This is a day and age where everything is connected, a beauty pageant led to many questioning our basic education system is working or serving our needs. We might have laughed at the lack of proficiency in English but it led us to wonder, if they can’t understand and communicate in English, which is the language of instruction, then how can they understand other subjects? Others scoffed at the apparent snobbishness of those criticizing young Rwandan ladies for speaking poor English when the event should be in Kinyarwanda. Then the rhetorical back and forth of “English does not denote intelligence” which is true, but ability to communicate is a vital skill in this communication age. The real point was lost in all this. Is the Rwandan Education system working for us as a nation? No one can expect it to be perfect but education is lagging other nations in the region, partly due to historical tragedies, but partly because we have not invested enough to change it. Our economic model of being a knowledge based economy would require only a few educated people, Google has 1,000 employees and the GDP of 20 African countries. What of the rest of Rwandans? There are no shortcuts, we have to develop by expanding our knowledge base, language is the key to that.

 

Actions not edicts

When we changed to English, what did we really do to help teachers learn the language? We just declared that teachers would now speak English or lose their jobs, so they often lied that they speak English. Let me tell you now, today as we speak, majority of teachers even university teach in Kinyarwanda. It was collective rebellion, they would all not learn so they could not sack them all. I would have expected 2,000 English teachers to join from EAC countries so every primary school has at least one fluent English teacher. I would have expected free classes to teachers, teaching materials, linking with radio programs to teach it, apps to help teachers learn and teach in English. Testing for teacher’s proficiency was barely done, so things carried on much as they did before. Right now we have the effects of this was academic corruption because you see students graduating in English who cannot speak a single sentence in it. Foreign campuses set up retail education, selling degrees for a buck. Rwandans will tell tell you “I have to do Master’s so I can actually learn” a degree is just to get you in the door. There is no shortcut to development that bypasses education, we need a major investment in teaching. The first priority was classrooms and schools, now we need to look at what and how we teach.

 

All languages have merit

 

To switch to English does not mean that Kinyarwanda has no merit, nor does it mean that French has no merit. The modern fact of Globalization means we are gravitating towards English, it gives you access to 70% of the Internet, 3 million books, 10m songs, its imprint is impossible to deny mainly because of America and not UK directly. Other countries like Croatia, Slovakia, Burma, Thai, all teach in their local languages. These nations have many books in their language and have translated most of the most important books known to man into their languages. Rwanda can eventually teach in Kinyarwanda but we would need to expand the canon of Books. We should use all the linguistic skills we have available, even French should be encouraged more, it gives us access to that world. Google translate allows me to read anything in French, Spanish, Arabic, instantly, so languages are not going to be the barrier we once thought they would be. Many departments of our universities go years without publishing, simply because they are afraid to publish in English, yet they have knowledge to share, a simple editing department can increase publishing and attracting more funding for projects. It is about empowering, using what skills you have, and using technology to bridge the gap. Above all it means investing in people, it was good to see a pay rise for teachers, now we need to invest in Education as a whole, each dollar invested in education brings back 20 in productivity. There is no easy way.

 

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Generosity is not Justice

 

“You always talk of giving back more, but not of taking less

You always talk of helping more, but never talk of doing less harm

You never think you might be the cause of the problem that you are trying to solve”

Anand Giridharadas

www.youtube.com/watch?v=IP7HajXJD3s

 

The Neo-Feudal age

 

When I was growing up as a kid, billionaires were evil, in the Bond movies, in Spy novels, in newspapers and the like. They were always twisted, bitter, power-hungry megalomaniacs bent on world control. In this day and age we have come to worship Billionaires, they are the Superheroes of our age and kids don’t look to Superman but to Zuckerberg, Bezos, Gates, Page and Jack as their heroes. The media paints them as super-intelligent evangelists for the Gospel of hyper-capitalism, we seek their opinions on policy that have nothing to do with their expertise. We assume they know everything and should just be obeyed. This masks a wider problem. The huge income inequality gap that is emerging in this new world both internally within nations and between nations, and the rise of government deficits in proportion to tax-cuts for the rich. This creates a cyclical problem, lower taxes for the rich, less revenue for government, so they slash jobs and services, leads to worse schools, then they borrow money to make up the deficit, then the rich point “See? I told you government doesn’t work.” The Rich then set up charities and foundations to appear to solve these problems caused by government breakdown and are hailed as White Knights. This is also exactly how the West treats Africa. Their trade policies skew the markets towards themselves, we have to give them tax breaks to attract their investment, we have to cut down size of government to make up shortfall, we end up selling our goods for less, we end up borrowing more, services break down and they say “See? I told you Africa doesn’t work!” Then they come in to save the day with their aid.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSuQ-AyiicA

The winner takes it all

When someone gives you help, you must first question the reason for them helping you. Is it genuine altruism, does that even exist? Is it because they feel bad and want to cover guilt? Is it to paint themselves as heroes when they are really the cause of the problem? The winners of today are the same ones who wrote the rules of this modern digital age. They all went to the same schools, the governing class and economic elite are now in bed together more than ever. The Ruling elite write laws to help their friends make and keep more money, money has replaced virtue as a measure of Goodness. They say there are winners and losers but they wrote the rules, the rules just happen to favour them. The top companies in the world have commoditized social capital by breaking down society, not building it. Facebook monetized friendship, stopped you from talking to your neighbor so it could make money off you. Amazon is taking over every small local business person that used to shake your hand in the morning and ask about your kids. Tinder is commodifying LOVE, the girl you grew up with next door is not enough, there are infinite possibilities of love, just keep swiping, but you’ll still end up marrying the girl next door. Africans look at the West and wonder if we would like that for our children? Africans have stopped idealizing the West, we are seeing the effects of that lifestyle, rich in pocket but poor in spirit. These billionaires then decide which diseases should be cured first, what type of schools we have, and what is taught there. If a billionaire’s mother dies of a certain disease, he donates billions to that disease and makes it a priority, pushes for more government funding for that. Generosity is not justice, generosity can only help a few, justice helps all.

 

 

National pathology

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgIsBdAiezw

This brings me to how this affects Africans. We appeal to Western generosity, but not to justice, every economic survey shows the West takes out 3 times what it gives in aid to Africa. We appeal for generosity to help solve our problems but never for justice. Justice is what is needed, there is no economic justice towards Africa. This was spoken about openly for the first time by the Deputy PM of Italy, he spoke of how France still colonized some 14 African countries and forced them to use a currency that makes them poor, this forces the best young talent to flee the continent. It is an open secret that France gets some $500bn from its colonies, without that money it would be in 15th position globally. No amount of generosity will lift us out of poverty if the left hand is taking more than the right hand is giving us, only justice can save us. Generosity is a bonus, it is discretionary, justice is mandatory for all of us. There are so-called philanthropists I have worked for in NGO’s that ban words like Inequality – say “lack of Opportunity” meaning you can’t get at the core of the problem. These mega-billionaires that fund many of the World’s biggest initiatives have an interest in the world remaining the way it is, they will never allow any meaningful change that will affect their profits. The donors only want cosmetic change and not structural change. If the world trade rules were changed then aid would not be necessary. If the richest 10% paid taxes then we wouldn’t need their charity. Like a parent who refuses to pay school fees, the school is run down, then the parent donates to the school to look nice.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6q3zy4NRzz4

Black people, it’s not our fault!!

 

Africans and Black people in general have been ashamed for so long. We have wondered just what it was in our blackness that made us so stupid, so dumb and slow compared to the white man? The statistics bore this out, every economic, educational, social indicator pointed down. Surely, we could not blame racism alone. Even Martin Luther King said the Civil Rights movement should primarily be about economic empowerment. We had academics like Charles Murray scientifically trying to prove blacks were less intelligent, he was clever to put white people not at the top of the intelligence pyramid but just below the Asians (read Orientals) in his book The Bell Curve. Murray recently wrote a book called Falling Apart about the disintegration of White middle-class America. In this book he points to many of the symptoms that dogged Black Americans are now affecting White Americans. Social breakdown, less marriage, children born out of wedlock, high drug abuse, alcohol abuse, joblessness, lower literacy rates, high crime, suicides, all these are affecting average whites. People are suddenly realizing that this problem can happen to any society, any good neighborhood can turn to a ghetto if social capital breaks down and poverty rots the spirit. After decades of hand wringing the West is seeing what we Africans have said for years, this is not our true character but poverty makes you do stupid things, act reckless, against your own interests just to eat for the day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euH3pAuLuko

What is power for?

 

In this brave new world we have redefined almost everything. We rarely talk of Morality, we talk of ethics, morality sounds judgmental, pious even, like religious, ethics sounds professional. Is it ethical for one man to own more than 20 African countries? Yes. Is it Moral? No. What is power? What is it for? Is it to serve the people or those with money? What is money? Is it something to be hoarded in the trillions just adding endless zeroes that mean nothing, is this just a game? We decide the value of money, like in Venezuela or Zimbabwe the dollar will cease to have meaning. How can we wrestle power back from the global elites that have controlled it? These are the questions we missed as we were swiping left. Technology is just breading a more rapacious form of capitalism but it doesn’t need to be that way. Technology can also free us. Social capital is the most valuable commodity on earth, all peace and development is built on social capital, without it we are nothing, savages at best. Money is just a way to try to replace social capital, in rural areas you can see rich social capital where people can live without money, just by good deeds. Go to the barbershop, get a cut, can’t pay, no problem, you owe me a favour. Next time I need my yard cleaned you pay for the haircut with labour, or tomatoes, or whatever you have. We have technology that can track social credit and we can live with minimal use for money. The world is falling apart because no leader can articulate a vision for the future that is inclusive for all. We are too deep into the Neo-classical thinking of Markets are Good, even when the markets are destroying our economies for an extra 0.1% efficiency. We should believe in markets, but understand that markets exist to serve us, not the other way around. Above all we must ask “what kind of world do we want?” We Africans have to be ready because the day of reckoning is coming and we must speak with one voice “GENEROSITY IS NOT JUSTICE.”

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When James Met Nikki

 

If you can keep your head while chopping off those around you

If you can destroy cultures, religions and Gods and make them worship you,

If you can enslave, colonize, rename, reconstitute and baptize

If you can kill in the name of profit, slay in the name of prophets

If you can sleep with a slave, she bares you a child in the dark, yet sell him like fish in a market

If you can sell your soul and gain the world, trade love for gold and pearls

If you can dream and make slaves achieve you dreams, with cracking whips and screams

If you can teach a man to hate himself, to love you more, rip his shell and inner core

If can make the slave hate themselves, to curse a mirror, to love you dearer

If you can make the slave think he’s free, free at last thank God Almighty,

If you can keep the system as before, with chains virtual, in the mind they hurt you all

If you can do it same as before, shoot a nigger in the streets, runaway slave on concrete

If you can exclude from education, deny health and redline wealth,

If you can be a liberal but have all the benefits of discrimination, if you can lace your golden boots up

If you can call the poor lazy when they have no boots to strap, no food to eat, no market to cap

If you can watch children die of hunger and disease, still keep bombing, blockade, sanctions increase

If it is good for a man to sell his soul and gain the world, with all its ugliness, give me all of it.

Then yours is the world my friend, what’s more, you’ll be a man my son, you’ll be a hollow dead man

My opinion of the great poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling has changed of late, it is still a great poem to give a child, it basically says “Give it all you got” but it has a deeper meaning. It was trying to explain why the white man is on top of the racial order, it was due to endeavor, resilience, bravery and high morals. As we look back at the colonial era we see the real reason the white man dominated, it was by evil, ruthlessness, lack of humanity, and lack of morals. Colonialism put the white man close to the finish line, the colonized had to start way behind the start line. We are trying to emulate the West, but their system is failing and has failed. What created peace and prosperity in the West was the uneven global market which gave them an advantage, with the rise of the third world and China in particular we have seen a decline in the West. Into this confusion have arisen many groups and movements from Brexit, to Yellow Vests, to Podemos, to Five Star. The cause of this chaos is that no leader can clearly articulate a viable future for their nations, they can only threaten that the alternative is worse.

 

In 1971 in London, two Great Poets met to discuss the future of the black struggle, their insights were so clear and prophetic. It was a great battle of minds of two generations. The context was crucial, MLK and Malcolm X had been assassinated, the movements became more militant with Black Panthers and Mau Mau. Black people became ‘conscious’ with their Afros, African names for their kids, new hip slang, slogans but nothing more. The promise of integration fell apart, and black people came to the sudden realization that they were in their own again. Young Black Feminist Nikki Giovanni met the whiskey swigging genius that was James Baldwn, their conversation is one for the ages, eternal questions that remain unanswered. What is power? What is morality? Can one be moral and powerful? They are questions not just for Black people but people in general.

 

They foresaw identity politics

“The biggest danger for your generation is to substitute one form of Romanticism for another, all these are just commercial categories.” James Badwin

When I look at sexuality today and I see the micro-categories “Cis-het, non-binary, transgender, intersex, queer, cis-queer, gay, bi” it goes on. You wonder what is driving this micro-fragmentation of identities and you see the commercial driver, algorithms now demand more precise parameters to provide more precise information to keep you buying stuff. The capitalist world turns everything into a product to be bought or sold, even Black Militant fantasies are sold back to us via Wakanda. The Black person was a commercial product for 244 years, it is hard to stop thinking of a people like that quickly. Nikki speaks of how everything becomes a fashion, becomes stylized, made into a package and resold to you.  It all comes down to power, our attitude towards it and how it interacts with us as people.

 

“Why do I have to learn so much about my oppressor when he knows nothing of me?” NG

“His game is working, he doesn’t need to know you,” JB later says “Power without morality is just sterile, look at Franco in Spain. When you got to lock up every one it just means your game ain’t working.”

Power comes from social capital and acceptance, when people don’t accept you then you have to use brute force, like white police in Black ghettoes. Why do we spend so much time studying the ways of our oppressor? Trying to reverse-engineer our corruption, or to emulate and hopefully oppress him back. Mostly we study our oppressor to try and fit it, so as not to get on his bad side. They don’t need to know our culture, but we must know theirs. They don’t know our God, but we must worship theirs. Their game is running, no need to change it. Nikki expressed the frustration of younger black militant generation.

“What has a man to gain by gaining the world but losing his soul? The world!! That’s what you can gain. Give me the world with all its ugliness and bitterness, give me all of it.” NG

“The White man gained the world but lost his ability to love.” JB

Slavery enslaves two people, the master and the servant, the master becomes dependent on the slave, he becomes a slave to fear, paranoia, he fears revenge and being killed any time. In order for the White man to gain the world, he had to lose his soul, to cease to be human, to be above human, to kill any sense of empathy to a person of a different complexion to them. If the Black man wants to assume that position of authority it would mean abandoning all sense of humanity, to adopt the pathological thinking of White people. She didn’t care, power is power, in all its ugly glory. The way the West developed is not sustainable, the industrial revolution would never have happened without millions of slaves digging minerals for free. He was warning her that the power system is corrupt and will corrupt anyone that controls it.

“In a moral situation top is bottom, you are on top of the argument by being on the bottom” NG

This is a central tenet of the non-violent struggle, brute force vs moral authority will always lose. The brutality sways public opinion towards you, by being weak you are strong, the victim has all the power in that situation. Baldwin warns to be careful of this, the Power always has media to demonize you, they use fear where persuasion fails. This has been adopted by many other groups against the system. In this modern age fake victimhood is power, even Trump supporters who are privileged think they are victims, even billionaires think they are victims. In a moral struggle it is like Jiu-jitsu, using the weight and strength of your opponent to maneuver around them, the extra power becomes a liability, you win the hearts and minds of the public. Baldwin counters that by warning against desensitization. When we look at the Black Lives Matter movement, and the mass sharing of harrowing images of Black men being killed and the net effect of that was desensitization and loss of shock. That is the emotionally numb world we live in now, it always takes more and more to shock us.

 

The most interesting part for me was the aspect of gender relations. Nikki was exasperated about the state of Black men in America, who perpetrated the same violence on their women that was they accuse the White man of. Baldwin “Once you destroy a man’s sexuality, you destroy his ability to love. He has no floor on which to dance, he has limited means to express his love.” I just don’t understand that, said Nikki, whose father was a violent alcoholic. “How does a Black father explain to his child that ‘I quit my job coz my boss called me a nigger’ the child won’t understand.” But Nikki responded in a common way “I don’t need your money, you don’t have to put a steak on the table, I can get my own damn steak. I need you, let’s do this together.” The Black family was breaking up badly, the first waves of deindustrialization, expansion of federal employment to Blacks especially black women, generous new welfare programs, were masking a deeper crisis. A crisis of confidence in Black men, so we saw more militant Black movements like the Black Panthers, who Giovanni saw as just a fashion and wanting to replace white patriarchy with Black patriarchy. “Like Fred Hampton, who can be his wife?” This was the founder of the Black Panthers, who heavily criticized Black women often espousing a more obedient ideal Black woman who didn’t exist anymore.

 

It takes a nation of millions to hold me back

The push and pull between the past and present, the generational transition and the fight to stay relevant. “Respectful of the past, but not bound by it.” Is how Nikki put it. Knowing what to keep and when to change, Africa was colonized because to failed to adapt to see what was happening until it was too late. We kept the same military tactics as we did before, charging into machine gun fire with our spears, over and over again. We did this because we were bound by the past, this was how warfare was fought and we failed to adapt. The one nation that was not colonized went and bought the same arms and cannons their enemy had, got military advisors with new tactics and defeated Italy 3 times. The inner battle between individualism and collective effort was also showing, the seeds of the destruction of the Civil Rights era “You deal with your Black, I’ll deal with mine.” Nikki said. Deal with your individual circumstances and not the collective, but that is where you lose your power. Like a herd of buffalo can fight off a pride of lions, soon each buffalo feels strong enough to fight a lion alone, they branch out alone and are eaten. Public Enemy had an album called “It takes a nations of millions to hold me back” it requires an entire system, millions of gatekeepers “Sir, you can’t go here, can’t go there, do you have a badge?” The system is not just isolated individuals but a network of millions to maintain the status quo as it is.

 

What we did with Jesus

Nikki lamented that she was attending a protest and the best blacks could offer was Gospel music, songs about Jesus. “What we Blacks did to Jesus was a beautiful thing, we took him with his blue eyes and made him ours. Ain’t no Swedes come from Palestine, so you know he was dark.” This is what I take away from this… Blacks use the tools of oppression and turn them on the oppressor. Think about it, music was supposed to indoctrinate slaves and make them work harder, they used music to set themselves free, the art of the oppressor is transformed into the art of liberation. We did the same with Jesus, re-appropriated him with new or original values of fairness, equality, Justice and freedom. We became believers but we made the White men atheist, now that this God had been taken over by the pagans they couldn’t believe no more. From now they would use science to defend racism, religion was no longer a useful tool. Today when the Patriarchy wants to convince the public they don’t summon the Bishops, they summon scientists, lawyers, researchers, the new priesthoods. Baldwin strikes at the heart of White Christian hypocrisy “God, to the white man represents purity and safety. Why has the Son of God got to be white? Aren’t we all Sons of God?” The problem with using the tools of the oppressor to free yourself is that you are never really free, and you are still trapped by the same thinking as before. The oppressor finds new methods of oppression using the illusion of freedom. Then you realize you are a mental slave, the chains are in your mind and impossible to break unless you use an entirely different mindset.

I would advise any person to watch this conversation. I cannot do it justice

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Marriage is safe, no need for moral panic just yet

 

 

There has been much ado about the state of matrimony in Rwanda lately, social trends seem to point towards divorce but if we look closer it is not as bad as stated. Rwanda went from 26 divorces the previous year to 1,000+ divorces in the last year, the Taliban would be proud, not even their moral authority is that powerful. 1,000 out of 3m+ marriages is still 99.999 stay together. People fear this is the “thin end of a wedge” or “first trickles of a flood” but we never thought that our near 100% success rate in marriage hides a deeper malaise, people stay with the wrong person out of social pressure. The marriage is the basic building block of society in Rwanda, to marry is called “to build” even if you are renting. When you marry you become a brick in the wall of society, you marry the family not the person. Our concept of marrying for romantic love is a very new one, most people in history married out of necessity, life was fragile, and people were few. It is only with economic security when all basics are met that you even start to contemplate romance. You married to build a family, to build alliances, to get protection, to extend lands, to further the will of Gihanga who demanded it. It was understood that you would learn to love each other, that personal feelings were subordinated to the wider Good.

 

Our ancient marriage institution was insanely liberal, that is why we still maintain 100% success. The myths are true, even wilder than we thought, the was no time of moral purity in our history, we were and are above all, practical and pragmatic in our approach. The Spear planted in the doorway, was an indication that your wife had male company and didn’t wish to be disturbed. Polygamy was not allowed but co-wives or Bakyeeba were common, if you did want to commit adultery then do it openly and bring them home. Whatever the couple agreed was their business as long as they could maintain their social obligations. Even with our 99.99999% retention rate, many marriages are just shells for show, but the show is so important, understanding the many levels of duty in marriage beyond romantic love. Many parents co-parent but live apart, or sleep in separate wings or the house. Quite often the solution is maintaining two homes, one rural, one urban, no questions are asked. We need a more detailed survey on the state of marriage in Rwanda, to take into account all the small fixes we use. Looking at rural areas, which is reflective of most Rwandans beyond the urban elite who got the 1,000+ divorces, men are carrying on as usual. However, women are waking up and knowing their rights, kicking abusive men out. Women empowerment will bring more divorce until men start adapting to women’s needs.

 

However, many of the laws to supposedly protect marriage have a negative effect on it. The tough adultery laws with prison time for a straying is making many young men just cohabit with their women, never to fully regularize their marriage. Many young men feel the law penalizes them unfairly, or that it favors the woman, but this is just correcting centuries of laws and customs favoring men. A couple have a religious blessing, invite friends like a full wedding, exchange rings, she changes her name, but she is not legally covered by marital law, this has effects on property ownership, child custody, tax and government services. We made the laws so tough that people are bypassing the law entirely. We need to accept we have a false picture, many couples are staying together out of obligation and social pressure. Maybe it is better to have a fake foundation than none at all. In this day and age of digital connection, that will fuel more divorce, the world is becoming small, what you see online is seen here very quickly as well. Overall the state of marriage is secure in Rwanda, it is still the building block of society and Government. However, some trends among the wealthy point to where we are heading socially. That 1,000 must have been comfortable middle-class couples, when women can support themselves and their children they opt for divorce. Poorer women don’t have that choice, they fear being abandoned financially and their children suffering. All countries have shown as women get economic independence they are less likely to stay in a loveless marriage, this will happen here too. When people complain of breakdown of society, they are often denying something that has happened for a while. For now, I won’t fall for the moral panic.

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Judge cancels No.1 rated Rwigara Reality TV Show

 

 

Rwanda’s Kardashians

Thinking back to some two years ago when the Rwigara saga began to unfold, we could not help seeing parallels with the Kardashians in America. A rich glamorous family that fell on hard times after the death of the father, beautiful glamorous and amorous daughters, a mother behind the scenes pulling all the strings, and an endless thirst for publicity – just too many similarities. Diane had never expressed much in the way of political ambition before that, but the way the authorities seemed to overreact made her into an instant celebrity. The Western media was quick to crown her the head of Rwanda’s opposition, as she ticked the boxes, young, articulate, bright, and modern. The fear was that she could be a protest candidate, a ridiculous notion in itself, but enough to scare some people. She went after the egos of those in power, really said the things you can’t say in Rwanda. From the outside it seemed utterly ridiculous, what followed was even more so. Kim Kardashian was accused of trying to overthrow the government, accused of working with Al-Qaeda to spread terrorism, detained in a maximum security prison, top of the priority list for FBI, NSA, CIA, DEA, and SEALS. Wouldn’t you watch such a show? Rwandans just got out their popcorn and laughed their way through this saga. This saga was number 1 in ratings but it was harming the legitimacy of our nation. We really have to make a decision in this country, are we going to keep making the same mistakes over and over? We go into panic mode and freak out only to regret it later.

 

A Cluster bomb

A clusterbomb is one of the worst weapons ever made, it is a bomb that explodes to release other smaller bombs, these bombs are bright and shiny to look like toys so children pick them up and die. Clusterbombs can kill people long after a particular conflict is over. The Rwigara saga is a lesson to Rwanda in what happens when you are stuck in a vortex of three competing interest groups within government wanting the same outcome but different processes. Rwigara was causing discomfort in the media through her comments and should have been ignored, security services wanted her arrested and did so hastily, the prosecution didn’t have time to make a proper case as it was also being tried in the media. As it was being tried in the media, evidence was being leaked to sway public opinion, the bar set for evidence in the court of law and the court of public opinion are very different. This jeopardized the case, the evidence held less weight in court, screen-grabs work well in swaying public opinion but not judges. The verdict was a scathing rebuke of the prosecution, the burden was on them to prove, not for the accused to disprove, this is a major step forward in Rwanda. The burden of evidence is shifted to the State, the accused has the right not to incriminate themselves, to remain silent. I have witnesses many arrests in Rwanda but never see an officer read out your rights before arresting someone, it just grab and cuff, sling them in the back of a truck. Incitement is not as simple to prove as prosecutors thought, private messages without any action is not enough, so keep whatsapping freely to let off steam

 

Internal reformers society

As champagne was being popped in the halls of HRW, the Washington Post and Congress, with outsiders taking all the credit, there was a HUGE sigh of relief in Rwanda as well. Reform in Rwanda is always seen as the work of the West “pressuring” Rwanda, this is as if to say that no one within RPF wants reform. RPF has a huge wing of the party dedicated to reform, just that they don’t march in the streets, they are bound by strict loyalty but committed to changing from within. Hardliners make the most noise, but when the dust settles the reformers often win. RPF People were advocating for the release of the Rwigaras, even Ingabire, not because they love them but they were not a threat and they were too much trouble for nothing. The Rwigaras wanted this, they got it, they took over the narrative and the headlines. Whenever we wanted to talk about the 10% growth, or good Business climate, or anything positive it always led back to the Rwigaras. This was their Reality TV show, we were willing participants in their game, they played us well. We made them into national security threats when they were nothings. We made them the equals to our government, when you meet people who live off publicity then you suffocate their press coverage by ignoring them.

 

A dance with the Devil

When the devil asks to dance, you better say never, coz a dance with the devil might last forever

This was just 2 weeks of bad coverage, that turned into 2 years of bad coverage, death by 1,000 cuts of little bad stories. It costs us investment, tourists, our good name, by the time you try to explain this story it is too late. We have to stop this “Chicken Little” mentality, that the sky is going to fall down because of one story. This government is one of the strongest in Africa, but to gain sympathy it must appear weak, it must appear fragile, as it only one story can bring this whole country down. So we arrest journalists to prevent bad stories leaking, then the arrest of the journalist becomes a worse story. We are repeating the same folly with a Rwanda BBC Journalist, making them into terrorists with weak evidence, prosecution planting co-accused you don’t who confess to it all, the same mistakes which the judge lambasted them for. We should do a reassessment of how we operate, to avoid hysteria and bright shiny things. I’m tired of hearing “Rwanda is making great strides forward but….” I want to get rid of that BUT. Rwanda is making great strides, end of sentence. We can’t blame the human rights people alone, we must clean our house. We can’t accept that we must commit a few crimes to enforce the law, then there is not law.  We also need to stop this “Let me cut you down to show you” attitude that created this messy mud fight.

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