Rwandaful PR is not enough

Why PR is not enough


Rwandaful news


Rwandans treat development like a sport, we are Team Rwanda, but no else is playing.


Rwandans are addicted to praise, it fuels our government, when we haven’t had a story in the global media about how great we are, we fall into a stupor of misery. Then, out of the blue, NYT or Time does a wonderful piece on the “Tremendous leadership” and morale shoots up. Echoes from a distant echo chamber reaffirming when we already suspected WE ARE AWESOME!! Then we go on Facebook and twitter to post it. WE ARE AWESOME. That is not enough, we have to tag people from other African countries WE ARE AWESOME, YOU ARE SHIT, HAHAHAHA!!! Then we tag Whites to show them how clever we are, especially those who criticize us, see? AWESOME. Then sleep satisfied in our awesomeness. Rwandans are convinced that if every African country was like theirs then all would be fine, we laugh at countries with GDP several times our own because they have dirty streets, or corruption, or failings as a state. Instead of gently explaining our position we shout down the people we try to convince. Africans are not stupid, they see what is behind the “Rwandaful” Prosperity Gospel. It is a racist white notion of what Africa should be, Rwanda is less retarded than the other kids in class, but they think of us as retarded none the less. Rwanda is so clean = Africa is dirty. Rwanda is safe = Africa is unsafe. We know all these to be untrue, but we are excluded from the insult so we don’t mind.


You’re playing yourself


Africans are not stupid, they know the game is rigged, this Rwandan idealism will fade when they see the cold harsh realities of the global economy. The game is rigged against us, yes we want cleaner streets, clinics, schools, but we will lose in the end, we always do. The top teams in this league rigged the game and faked the results to keep themselves on top, they will always get better than the lower teams, get more money, the referees always give them free penalties and disallow your goals. The coaches of our teams are stealing the kit, and equipment, they say fix your team then talk, but the game is RIGGED. Africans gave up on the global economy ages ago, the states officials used this apathy to enrich the elites at the expense of the masses. The West needed a Poster Child for this Neoliberal prescription and Rwanda was it. We comply with policy demands without even thinking, we cut off our nose on command, then the ear, just to be top of the Doing Business list. Maybe other countries saw the policies are detrimental, as many of the policies are, they are not stupid for not implementing them. Neoliberalism was not designed to help countries develop, it was made for Multinationals, the demands of these entities are counter to the needs of ordinary people. When you have an established business sector over decades you are less inclined to open up. However, if you had no businesses like Rwanda post-94, you have to open up.


Why can’t they be like us?


We can be so self-righteous. Why are they so stupid? Can’t they see? All they need is to be like Rwanda. Then Western media reinforces this, look!! Neoliberalist policies work!!! Implement implement implement!! Firstly, we spend millions of dollars on PR firms, we buy articles in Western press, hire Western lobbyists and spokesmen so this Brand Rwanda is not an accident. It is a carefully thought out and marketed brand. When you wake up with positive feelings about Coke, or Bud-lite, it is because somebody took their time to sway you that way. If Kenya closed down every independent media house and hired the best PR firms then they could also be a perfect nation. They would need to pass through the tragedy that Rwandans went through, losing 15% of the population, the political elite fleeing leaving the victor to govern in a vacuum. The wish that others would be like us denies the reality of our precarious situation, we are no closer to resolving our political conundrum, we are regressing in freedom and rights, and it is only the blessings of God which stop Rwanda from exploding again. So we sit on top of a rumbling volcano wishing others could be like us, others say no thanks. Even if we grow, it will take us 200 years to reach Western levels of wealth, by then the whites will all be living on another planet.


Where are the revolutionaries?


I remember when the RPF were true revolutionaries, they wanted more than a changing of the guard. They were people-centered, grassroots up, not top-downers, before the V8’s and the Neoliberalism. All the ideologicals were purged for the V8’s, the V8’s wanted the flash cars, the trapping of power without any principles. So many sold out for a house and a rotting car, then they had to take debts to maintain this fake lifestyle, then start to steal money to maintain their living. The thinking at the top is so deluded, we will spend $300m on the most expensive building in Africa, then use the profits to build affordable housing. The Pyramid of Khufu cost less than our KCC (allowing for inflation) and it brings in $3bn a year. We will be saddled with debt for decades and could pay back $1bn. The old RPF we loved would have built affordable housing for 200,000 and lift them into a middle-class with a disposable income. RPF thinks in the same Neoliberal, top-down, us-first thinking of the donors, in the air-conditioned V8’s safe in their bubbles. How can we go to pose with the greatest economic gangsters in Davos or whatever investment summit? The game is rigged, stop playing. Our poverty is structural, it is not accidental, our poverty creates a surplus in the West. We can win but we have to change the rules. We cannot sit and smile with those who are strangling us.


The law of the jungle no longer favours the lion


The law was made for the lion to eat, but even the lion is suffering in this new world. The election of Donald Trump heralds a new era of Neo-Nationalism, multinationals wanted the tearing down of borders to allow them to earn more, but it allowed them to pay less tax. Global trade was integrated into a single supply chain to reduce costs and industry died in many countries. Globalism is not an accident of natural evolution of the market, it was lobbied for, donations paid to campaigns, media pushed it and brainwashed us. Rwanda adopted this Neoliberal capitalist dream, a few computer programmers running a knowledge-based economy, while the rest work in services and leisure. This would leave the vast 80% out of the economy, they would have to be content with water, power, schools, and clinics while the urban elite drive their V8’s. We need an economic program that employs as many as possible, capitalism is making the most profit with the least costs and manpower. We need a fair system which can protect jobs, provide an internal incentive for manufacturing, if you can import a plastic bucket for less than it costs to make here then we will never develop. We import matches, toothpicks, chewing gum, sweets, cheap stuff to make and easy too. Comesa is killing Rwandan manufacturing, even the EAC means we have no necessity to start production. We are too small for consumption so we can switch to production, but we need to focus on the needs of the villagers not the urban elite, they need farm equipment, and affordable household goods. We have 12m consumers ready to buy, you need products that suit them.



Just try to get out of your V8 and seen ths wonderful place called Rwanda

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Nyabingi the goddess of abundance





We don’t know our own culture, the white colonizers were so thorough in destroying our history that we can only see fragments of it. Around 20 years ago I was talking to a Rastafarian friend who heard I was Rwandan, he went deep into the story of Nyabingi “the spirit of Nyabingi was meant to protect Rwandans and all black men, Rwandans should have prayed to their mother to save them. The white God divides you, your culture unites. They have grieved Nyabingi and will be cursed.” It took me ages to understand what he meant, I am not superstitious but understanding our pre-Christian beliefs can help us understand and unite ourselves in the present context. There are so many things we do and don’t know why, Rwandans spit, if not literally as you will be fined, but ritualistically “Apppptooooo!!” we disdain and spit symbolically but that comes from curses. I curse you to die, spit to seal the curse. So back to Nyabingi, the Jamaicans revered her since 1896, when Marcus Garvey heard of a rebellion led in Rwanda and southern Uganda by a warrior-goddess called Muhumuza he was spurred into action. Muhumuza was possessed by the goddess Nyabingi, her son Mutabazi was a direct rival to Musinga, the Germans backed Kanjogera and that was that. This battle between Kanjogera and Muhumuza divided us into the nations we are today, the Kiga, Bahororo, Bahima, Basongora, Ankole, Bahweju, Bahaya, Toro, were with the British, while the rest went with the Germans and Belgians.



The myth vs reality

Muhumuza was trying to portray herself as fulfilling destiny, it was foreseen that at the moment when Rwanda was on the verge of collapse, she would be saved by the Spirit of Nyabingi, then her son Mutabazi would reign in peace forever. She has many names Nyabingi, Nyirabingi, Nyamwinshi, Nyabwinshi, Nyamingi, according to the dialect but the Myth is the same. She was claimed to be the daughter of Ndori Ruganzu, but other kingdoms claim her as well. She was the goddess of plenty, of abundance, of fertility, of love, of comfort. In prehistory she is the daughter of Gihanga the creator god, even after she died she possessed women who acted as her mediums. People would pray to her for good crops, love, comfort, and as an intercessor to Gihanga who was more severe as a father. So at the time when Rwanda was being colonized was total disaster, imagine 100 ebolas, measles, mumps, TB, whooping cough, polio, smallpox, flu, killed 35% of all people. Equal to that was the destruction of livestock, some 70% of all animals died, that includes the antelopes, elephants, lions, even the fish in the river. New diseases that we had no immunity to, so crops were not planted, people ran away to Uganda, Congo, TZ, and it must have been an apocalypse. Into this breach step two women, Muhumuza came out of nowhere so Kanjogera had to depose Rutarindwa because the rebellion in the North was threatening to sweep them all. Muhumuza led many rebellions in the North, the last was in 1928, she died peacefully in 1945.

The context


At the time it was only Nyabingi who was seen to be able to save Rwanda, there was no Umuganura in 1896 and people feared to eat the food cursed by Gihanga. Kangojera had no choice but to recast herself as a savior Queen, her son Musinga was seen as Mutabazi who will save Rwanda, and it worked. To understand the history of this you have to remove the Berlin Conference borders from your mind. To the Bachwezi Empires of the Great Lakes, Kitara is the oldest dating from 700AD and the rest are fragments of the Empire. In these empires women were co-rulers, even disproportionately powerful because they had two thirds of the power. The Queen-Mother, King and Queen all ruled as a triumvirate, the Mother performing ritual-spiritual purposes, The King as Military head, the Queen had Administrative powers. The ancient Kingdoms of Mpororo and Busongora had most reverence for Nyabingi, Ndori is said to have come from Busongora. During the 16th century a Rwandan Prince Murari fled to Busongora and became a lover of Queen Kitami and she promised him soldiers to fight his borther  Kigeli II Nyamuhesha. Rwandan troops followed Murari into Mpororo and destroyed the palace at the capital Rujumbura, they moved north into Busongora and destroyed the Kingdom and its capital Bunyampaka. Mururi and Kitami had a child called Kahaya Rutindangyenzi, he became the king of the buffer state Ndorwa. Kitami died of a toxic bee sting, and her Kindgom was in disarray, a tiny bee diverted history. Her top generals formed two buffer states, a newer Mpororo and Ndorwa to the south, Kitami was sanctified as a manifestation of Nyabingi who would return to save them.


The virgin birth

The reason why Muhumuza was taken seriously was scientific proof, she was a pregnant virgin, senior chiefs who doubted her were invited to inspect her intact hymen. How could this be? Without going into too much detail, it involved a very thin straw reed and deviousness. We must disavow our modern thinking to understand Nyabingi, like, women on their periods were seen as blessed by Nyabingi, the goddess of fertility had possessed her and she was in a foul mood. It was a blessing to come home and find your wife in a mood, throwing pots around and screaming. Women were encouraged to let it all out once a month as therapy. Barren women would pray to Nyabingi and give offerings at her shrines, if she blessed you with menstruation then it was a future abundance. Women had central power in our culture, in rituals and spirituality, in confession and advice. Our ancient kingdoms reflected this in how power was distributed, between the physical and the spiritual, military strength was not enough, you needed spiritual and administrative power as well. The home reflected this, with the grandmother often living with you and having sway in matters. So Nyabingi was Venus and the Virgin Mary in one, a virgin and also a goddess of sex and fertility. To fully understand this you must understand the former kingdoms that predate Rwanda, we have a common history and culture.

Our modern world

If you are a Seventh Day Adventist in Rwanda then you come from a former house of Nyabingi, the followers of Nyabingi converted en masse around 1917 because it was the only form of Christianity acceptable to Musinga and Kanjogera. That forever put the Adventists at odds with the Catholic Church in Rwanda, as they are elsewhere. Adventists were one of the targeted groups in the Genocide, even Hutu Adventists were massacred because the religion was wrongly seen as Tutsi. In understanding our prehistory we understand ourselves today, we have labeled it all as “Ubupfumu, uburozi, ubupagani” but it is still in our subconscious. When a Western Evangelical comes talking about “The blood, washing in the blood!” it connects because that is what we used to do in it same rituals. Catholicism took hold because we could equate Nyabingi with Virgin Mary and Mutabazi with Jesus, and find other parallels which meant it wasn’t alien, plus we were monotheistic so it could translate. To see a Saint of Rwanda revered as patron saint of the Rastafarians, second only to God, above Selassie, is a sign that our culture resonates. Nyabingi may not have been real in the literal sense, but she was an idea, of hope, abundance, self-determination, and the intervening hand of God. When we say “Wokabyara we” we refer to her, her fertility, Nyabusa is her cruel sister “Nyabusa we” we beg her. She is particularly revered in the Northwest, the most fertile part of Rwanda, as Bakiga climbed the mountain the volcanic black soil was seen as blessed by Nyabingi. We really need to study our culture, it has the answers to all the questions we have. We need to decolonize education, understand our true context and use our culture to heal ourselves and others. Just like Jamaicans mobilized to independence by having late night prayer sessions with the Drums of Nyabingi calling to her spirit to guide them to fight against the British. It worked for them. What would it do for us?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Trump: A Chance To Make Africa Great Again?

Trump might be good for Africa

Plantation politics

Donald Trump was recently elected President, uberliberals warned us that the sky will collapse in on itself but it hasn’t happened so far. This was just to make us fearful, the Democrats are now just a party of fearmongering to avoid actual policies. The Democrats relations to Africans, mirrored that of their relations to African-Americans, taking them for granted. When Obama was elected we has so much hope, we expected a trillion dollar Marshall Plan for Africa. It was never to happen, he barely identified with us because he was accused of being a foreigner plus his home economy was wrecked. I was surprised Obama was elected by the Democrats, I always expected the GOP to be the first as a cover for their racism. Blacks had to wait their turn in the Democrats, Obama ran on a totally separate platform and organization called Obama for America, he was frozen out by the Clintons. He ran again in 2012 using his private organization only his name was on the ballot. He managed to avoid the chaos of the DNC and get elected, but Bill Clinton angrily said “Who does he think he is? Not long ago he’d be serving us coffee!!” Nigger wait your turn!!!! Ever since Kennedy and LBJ gave them Civil Rights they had to sit and be quiet. This was the new plantation, niggers should be grateful, of course you can’t say NIGGER, they are N-Words.

Modern cultural imperialism

Both parties are nauseating in their imperialist views, the Democrats want to convert us into Manhattan Metrosexual Liberals, GOP wants us to be rednecks, both are overly self-righteous and condescending. A Liberal represents their tiny little bubble, they want to see their parochial concerns as paramount. Liberals are Liberal-Conservatives, they are from the professional classes, their jobs are protected but their heart bleeds. They want small gradual improvements over time leading to wider change, they don’t want to overthrow the oppressive system because they prop it up and rely on it. Liberals today just have 4 answers to anyone who questions them FASCIST, RACIST, HOMOPHOBE, MISOGYNYST!!!!!  Having a Democrat in power must be terrible for US Diplomats, policies change according to Twitter pressure, though Trump might be the same. Uganda has been a vital base for American interests in the region, intervening in Somalia, South Sudan and DRC, but one proposed homophobic law threatened to derail 30 years of alliance. All strategic considerations went out the window, the party donors were angry, they demanded aid be cut, that children not be immunized until the government saw sense and bent over. Same with Rwanda and the M23 crisis. Republicans get angry when you disagree as well “You HATE America and you HATE the troops.” To hell with them both. Trump is not ideological, he won’t be bound by narrow strains on thought.

Liberals don’t like you

They only want to use you, they only want to maintain their superiority over you by pretending to care. George Bush gave more to Africa than any Democrat president, he gave money to AIDS, Malaria, women’s groups and his AGOA program still promotes growth in Africa. Liberals are poverty pimps, they want to exploit poverty to enrich themselves, affirmative action money still goes to white Liberals but Black politicians get a cut. Democrats have deported more people than Republicans, incarcerated more blacks, imprisoned more Muslims, and in any metric they are often worse. This is because since the Clintons took power in 92, they have tried to make it a Republican party clone. If Liberals don’t care for the poor and excluded in America, what makes you think they will care about Africans? This election has proved they are out of touch with ordinary people. One angry UberLiberal said “Okay so you say we don’t understand the fly-over states, but what are they doing to understand us?” That is the worst indictment of the Manhattan mentality. The world has to understand us, we don’t have to understand them, they are stupid and don’t know what is in their best interest. I listed some things that will be different in the Trump era

  1. Less emphasis on Democratic reform and human rights – this will be good and bad. How will Trump lecture Africans when he advocates waterboarding? Some nations will breathe a sigh of relief to see Samantha Powell and her wagging finger gone. It is a fine line, to know when to push and when to leave. Some nations will take advantage to be even more oppressive but some will now do it in a manner that suits them and not dictated from Washington. We would have had demands to legalise Gay marriage or face aid cuts if Hillary won, for her donors.
  2. Neo-liberalism is DEAD or dying, we have been complaining about the inequities and imbalances in Neoliberal trade agreements, now even America is feeling the squeeze we will see change. NAFTA and TPP look dead in the water, we will see a major realignment of trade rules, more protection for workers and jobs. America as an advocate for change will push reforms, Africa has deindustrialised like the Rust Belt, and we need solutions as well. Repealing the Frank-Dodd act
  3. Less intervention – Trump was a reaction against Neo-con policies, he’s tired of being the policeman for the world. Right now, the donors are trying to push Jon Boulton on him, a superhawk, when Trump accused Hillary of being a Hawk. Trump was actually an Anti-war candidate, he prioritized ISIS but wanted all other wars stopped. Hillary had a long list of countries to bomb, long memories, more enemies.
  4. We will wake up – we have this dream that America will save us. This will wake us up. Malcolm X talked about Liberals being dangerous because they hide their hatred of others, even to themselves. White Liberals who advocate for us want to live in all white neighbourhoods, they cross the road when they see you, clutch their handbag in a lift and want to love you from afar. We will wake up, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Trump has shown just how weak the Elite structure is, their money no longer protects them. We can overthrow this global oppressive system.

No one is coming to save us


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Hubris Hubris, the fall of the Clintons



Spousal privilege

Political spouses are always powerful, that is why we all recognize First Ladies. Pillow talk, you know at the end of a hard day when he or she is at their most vulnerable they talk. What about this minister? This or that General, whether a law should pass or the true state of the nation. Pillow talk is dangerous, but it is protected by the law under spousal privilege. Your spouse cannot be compelled to testify against you, you are seen as one before the law, unless she or he is accusing you. So, political wives know everything, see everything, and have power behind the scenes. Hillary Clinton was the perfect political wife, an intellectual equal who had the skills of machination that Bill lacked. When deals were made, Bill would leave the details to his wife, who was also his lawyer and he had both attorney-client privilege and spousal. The Clinton’s have raised over $3bn for charity and their political causes, some of that went to themselves and less than 10% went to actual help. In Rwanda, they Clinton Foundation opened a cancer hospital in Butaro in 2009, without any cancer equipment till last month, but they claimed they were curing Rwandans of cancer for free. We took my dying aunt there to find empty wards without carers but the website was exploiting us.


Why she lost


Without a vision the people perish, Trump offered a nightmare vision but it was a vision. Hillary offered nothing “I’m with her” what does that say? What does she stand for? Why didn’t she have a message? She has taken so much money from special interests that no policy would pass her donors. Free college, Banks and student loans would block it. Reduced healthcare costs, she has taken money from pharmaceuticals who overcharge for drugs. Opposing outsourcing, all her main donors have outsourced their workers. She lived in a total bubble, she had to be inaccessible to make to favours more expensive, she relied on pollsters and thinktanks to tell her what the people were thinking. She was detached and out of touch, only speaking to people who agreed with her. Liberals now just shout down the people who question them, you’re a Racist, a Bigot, Homophobe, misogynist and never listen to the substance of what they are saying. The Democrats have been obsessed with toilet rights for transgender people when the economy is hurting, it was the ultimate hubris. 40% of workers are on less than $20,000 in the richest country, 70% are on less than $30,000 when the average is $49,000 so corporations make up the difference. The rust belt is where she lost big, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana, there was no message for them, but Trump at least saw their pain.


Excuses excuses


Racism  – many Trump voters voted for Obama in 08, and 12, yes whites voted for Trump overall but Obama won more white votes than Hillary, 39-36. 30% of Latinos voted for Trump, they voted for a wall to keep their relatives out. This is called the drawbridge effect, when you run into a castle seeking refuge, you want them to close the gate to the drawbridge because your are fine now. Old immigrants who came there the hard way and worked their way up, hate to see newcomers get the red carpet.


Sexism – white women voted for Trump, she failed to connect with women, especially younger women who she was trying to inspire. She came from an old school feminism where you never show your weakness, younger women see vulnerability as a humanizing feature that makes people relate better to you. Dilma Roussef in Brazil had the same problem, she was an old school gal, she grew up in the rough and tumble of big boy’s politics, secret deals, nudges, handshakes, and was part of the patriarchy. They failed to transition from the backseat to the front, from shadowy operatives to open accountable leaders.


The Media – they gave Trump so much free airtime, some $2bn worth of free coverage, the media is now just 6 companies globally owning 90% of readers, viewers, loggers, so the idea of a free press is dead. The head of ABC was quoted in July saying Trump was great for business and they will see record profits. The media is just 2 echo chambers, Fox vs all the Rest, the media which should be investigating and holding the political class to account is fully in bed with politicians. Most of the pundits were employees of one or another campaign, yet claimed to be unbiased. I watch Daily Show and most other shows it is allowed to be as partisan and horrible as possible. They never leave the Manhattan bubble, not ever to go to Queens or Brooklyn. The media deeply despises rural and small town America and label them racist, homophobic, and other Deplorable terms.


Emails and leakage

The puditocracy blame the FBI for strategically taking sides but they never acknowledge that all this is because Hillary broke the law with an illegal server. She could never fully admit wrong, she would try to explain giving long winded answers that showed she was at best, bending the truth. It is this tendency to bend the truth that undid her, you can’t spin your way out of everything. Those leaked emails were from a server she should never have had so they can’t claim privacy. The emails showed that she was the one always trying to bend the law, or cross the line while her staff tried to stop her.


The voters didn’t turn up


Blame the voters, she knew she was unpopular, her mantra was “You don’t have to like me, just vote for me.” Voters have to like you and at least respect you, the idea that a voter machine can make people leave home on a cold November day when they hate you is wrong. She had too much mileage, we knew her for too long to just change our opinions like that. 7m stayed home, they saw her are part of the system that stole their jobs but they couldn’t vote for Trump.


A new way


The real revolution was Bernie Sanders’ he raised $200m just from small donors, with no media coverage or official support. The average donor gave $27, this was basically using Mpesa and other similar money transfer apps. Hillary took $22m from Goldman Sachs and she had to sell her soul, there is another way. The corporations wanted unlimited money in politics so they could outbid the common man, before that you had to raise money via activists and voters. Going to Lobbies means you don’t have to have principles, voters demand principles,  donors demand you have none. The Republicans shouldn’t rejoice either. This is like the Barbarians entering Rome and the Romans pretending they always supported them. This is a plague upon both houses.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

True social security through social banking



Why are we poor? Is it our africanness? Is it our global trade laws that allow the third world to be paid less for their goods? There are so many reasons, but the chief one is that we are not fully in this modern world. Our people are not fully subscribed to the cash economy, now cash is strange, it is built entirely on trust and suspension of disbelief. Imagine the first time our ancestors were shown a piece of paper and told “This is equal to a cow” and they laughed. How can a piece of paper be equal to a cow? A cow is equal to a cow. Money is the greatest invention of mankind, it may be the worst invention, but it has driven progress for millennia. How does one quantify labour? If a shoemaker wants to sell to a goat-herder then how many shoes equal a goat, you one need one pair, what happens to the excess money or labour? Money solves that problem of quantifying and rewarding labour. We take a piece of paper and ascribe value to it, we have wizards in BNR who have done forecasts, consulted the financial gods and all is well. When we stop believing the money is worth much we get inflation, the wizards have to come and reassure us again that all us well. Most Rwandans have not bought into the cash economy, they still live by their own sweat growing their own food and it is rare that they need money compared to a city person. There is a crop in the field, honey in the tree, meat in the bush, milk in the cow, and they have no commercialism to aspire to own the latest this or that. They need just medicine, soap, salt, and the odd utensil. School fees and uniform kit can be earned through seasonal labour, and the rest of the time is free. The global economy waits for no man, but we do not yet aspire to that. Capitalism is built on more, more, more, creating a surplus and excessive excess. What if you just want to chill?


What is the point of a bank?


You cannot just chill because population pressures are never far away, Rwanda has a high population density so Malthus will not allow us to relax. If one has not subscribed to the cash economy then banking is out of the question. Banks charge monthly fees on average of $4, if you count that annually that is $48 in fees, if you take average earnings at even $900 a year then it is substantial – THE MATTRESS CHARGES NO MONTHLY. No wonder people are not interested in opening accounts, it can cost 15% of your income. What is the point of a bank? Yes, it is to make money for shareholders, but how? Not by overcharging  like my bank KCB does. I asked a question on their suggestions board. WHAT SERVICES DO YOU ACTUALY PROVIDE? ATM, Visa, Chequebook and what? Loans? What else? Ask yourself, what is the point of a bank in this day and age? You can make transactions without them, you can get loans without them, you can do anything, they are largely obsolete especially with mobile money. Quite often we hear of banks which are charged to help development instead lending money to their own employees to make massive profits on land deals. Or all the loans going to the family and friends of the employees, that is what a bank is for, to enrich the bankers at our expense.



Punitive damages


Our banks are stuck in the 90’s even KCB comes to Rwanda to rehash its 90’s model having being thoroughly destroyed by Equity Bank. They are proud of their long queues, we even say “wow look at BK, people are queuing all the way on the pavement outside, they must have loads of money.” And the other banks are jealous, wishing they had people around the block. These queues are just bad customer service, you find at peak times only 2 counters working as workers go for lunch at the time when everyone goes to bank. The banks make money on fees, the workers, lights, water is paid by fees, so they don’t have to make a profit because the basics are paid. We need to abolish bank fees for having an account, maybe charge for services but don’t deduct 4,000 for doing nothing. Access Bank and Equity now have annual single fees, I urge other banks to do so as well. We should be earning interest and not paying just to queue for our money. Mobile money is also heavily expensive, around 1-3% charges on MTN, they punish you the higher the money you send so it will never graduate to serving big business when you can lose hundreds of dollars per day on large amounts. We are overtaxing mobile money before the sector even grows. KCB charges 1,775 to withdraw money from your online account to Mobile money, Banks are punishing customers to prevent them from moving to the inevitable to preserve their business model. We need a monthly fee and transactions to be free of charge after that.



The labour value chain


Why are interest rates high in Rwanda and Africa? The bankers give you a bullshit answer they have prepared. “You see the high interest rates are caused by low capitalization of banks due to lack of a savings culture.” Bull, crap, rubbish, lies. How can we save what we don’t have? How much can a person on $900 save? Unless they starve, they also need to spend to get out of poverty, even borrow to get out. So what chance is there we will start to save on average some $1,000 a year when we earn less than that? The REAL reason is we lend to the WRONG people (the politically connected) and secondly we lend into a messed up value chain. In order for banks to survive we need to remedy these two areas, on risk management and value chain management. Our banks manage risk proactively, by weeding out the risk ahead of time, but if you slip through the net there is a 18% to cover all eventualities. No nation has ever developed on 18%, a debt becomes unviable above 8% and you will have negative equity. In order to reduce our lending costs, we have to manage the value chain, to eliminate risk in real time.




You lend money to a farmer, they give their title deed as their collateral, and now the bank is covered whether you succeed or fail. In fact the bank will be hoping the farmer fails so they can grab the land cheaply, they pray for locusts, droughts, even plagues to hit their client just so they can profit. Our banks are equally betting on us failing and succeeding. Banks have failed to invest in farming, our basic survival, because 18% is too high to start a business on. 18% is an insult to us all, it says they do not believe in Rwanda, they are betting on us to fail, 18% is a vote of no confidence and wanting to pay off a loan within a presidential term. We need to lend longer, over 20-30 year for property at 5-7% instead of 8 years of 20% that is too steep a ladder to climb.


Scenario 2


A bank decides to do value chain management. They decide to reduce the number of actual bankers they employ, counterintuitive like a hospital sacking doctors. Instead they replace 30% of staff with non-banking people, technical staff: engineers, lawyers, marketing, sales, distribution, transport and logistics. They never invest in a sector unless you have inhouse people who understand it fully.


A group gets together to build a mall, around 10 investors put up half, the bank the other half at 10% to be realistic, looking at a 3% margin but also a 50% stake that has to be bought out. The bank needs to be invested and not just win if you lose, you have to be tied at the hip. The bank gives you all the advantages you need instantly, engineers, architects, project managers, foremen, each reporting regularly and inspecting progress. To proactively troubleshoot in the field: if supplies are being overcharged, if transport costs are being boosted, if people are stealing cement on the site, if fake invoices are being handed in. That is why we pay 18% to pay for thug niggaz stealing money on the side. So we have to pay for the building plus a couple secret buildings where the supplies went. It is the only way a bank can protect its investment, they just watch their money flowing down the drain “Look your money is going down the drain.” The bank knows it can raise interest rates 2% and recoup that money gone down the drain, but it is a death spiral.


Scenario 3


Bank lends money to Cooperative, a well-detailed project is written up, timelines, deadlines, but a hands on approach. Inputs, environment and farmers, to manage the whole value chain from the field to the plate. Every single risk can be mitigated until there is no risk apart from sheer bad luck. Irrigation means you don’t wait for rain, rain is a bonus to boost the harvest, you have enough to last to harvest even if there is a drought. Fertilizers and pesticides can remove other environmental risks. Machinery can increase the capacity of work you can do, then when you harvest you have adequate storage. Finally, you can add value addition and food processing to increase profits. When risk has been mitigated, then we can go into the Futures, where a farmer can sell several years ahead knowing that the return is guaranteed.


So when I asked KCB “What services do you actually have?” it seemed absurd, it is a bank, take it or leave it. Your clients need financial services, accounting, auditing, sales, marketing, logistics, payroll management, tax assessment, you name it. Banks are actually cutting staff in a time they should expand, they should invest in risk managers who work in real time to avert disasters. You lend a business money then you hear Revenue closed them down coz the books were sloppy. If that bank had sent even an intern 3 days before to sort out the books then a $100,000 loss could have been avoided. A bank has to leverage its clients to build a business ecosystem in-house, let your clients lift each other, call in favours. A bank manager should call any company that owes them money “Hey I need some help, one of my clients needs a marketing plan done for their project. By the way, your loan is up for review next week, so it would help to keep things smooth…..” Okay we’ll send someone. So your client gets a world class marketing plan as a favour for a favour.


The RSSB bank


The vast majority have not bought in fully to the cash economy, they see cash as a necessity at times when certain situations demand it. Rwandans are communal and familial, they are not yet individualistic as capitalism demands. So any economic program has to be based on the family and not the person, policies like Mutuelle should be more family centred, a premium should be per home adjusting for the number of residence. We should introduce a credit card system for work, where people can work on projects in exchange for credits that can be exchanged for health coverage, school fees, tax debts, even money. Umuganda is used in rural areas to speed up completion of projects, the community gives its labour in exchange for a new school, or clinic, or courthouse. We should be able to quantify and reward labour, Rwandans should be able to pledge their labour and get rewarded, to pledge 200hr a year to help build their country, and be credited for those hours in return for better social security. In Greece where the nation was about to default, the finance minister Varoufakis came up with a system of a digital currency to keep the nation going. It would allow citizens to trade credits instead of money, the idea was killed by the EU as Greece was forced to accept austerity. The idea of a credit system could get Rwandans into the system quicker, working for money is greed, but working to get healthcare for your family is common sense.


The Social Security Bank should be created, merge our pensions, tax and savings into one system. Revenue should issue a number to every Rwandan, that becomes your SS number, tax ID no, bank account number, and your credit risk profile. You should be able to bank money, and time, because time is money and money is time. The time worked entitles you to services in the next year, you can farm to feed your family but the basics are taken care of, and education and healthcare don’t bankrupt people. There should be no monthly charges, just premiums according to the customer’s needs. The top premiums should pay 40% of the workers last salary for 6 months if you are jobless, people would pay 10% for employment insurance, if you are never sacked in that time you can recoup 5% as savings or credits. The biggest creditor and debtor is the Government, the delays in payment by government institutions is one of the biggest logjams in doing business in Rwanda. Our strict accounting systems cause delay though debts are paid in full, a business can be bankrupt by then. Using this credit system means govt debts can be traded or borrowed against, giving a business more time and flexibility.


I don’t have all the answers, I realize the difficulty involved but this is just my opinion.


Rama Isibo

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rwanda needs work

Rwanda is not working


When PR takes over….


A nation is on the way to doom, when you seek the glory and approval of outsiders, you cease to do it for yourself. We are a nation that now lives on PR, on the ambrosia of praise and false flattery. When a Western media outlet does a story on Rwanda, it is just looking for fodder to fill its pages, they don’t love us deep down as a people. A minister is judged by how many articles their ministry generated in the international media, you no longer have to perform, you just have to appear to perform. When you live by PR you no longer make decisions based on the cost-benefit but in the PR it will generate. It is like crossing the road by doing a quadruple back flip and spin when you could just walk across. A good recent example is the Drones, that was genius, it was big thinking, but is it what we need now? It made headlines, Rwanda looked good, but there are so many other cheaper and more effective solutions, but they don’t generate good PR. Simply making ice-pack fridges which can fit on the back of a moto would be more reliable, cheaper and provide employment. That is where thinking big goes wrong, you think out of proportion and perspective of your problems. One Lap Top Per Child, you jump to digital when analogue radio can be used to teach children and adults alike. Analogue radio isn’t cool, it won’t get you on the cover of Time, but it will solve your problems cheaper and quicker in your own context. We should open a radio station with multiple frequencies for different ages, teaching courses 24 hours a day.


Where are the jobs?


Some Govt offices exist just to produce good PR, not to solve problems, so they are never honest about the problem in the first place. The Labour ministry produced stats saying there is 2% unemployment, the joke of the year, the minister went on to insult Rwandans but the biggest insult is that lie. 2% ? Then it says urban unemployment is 8%, that is the sweet smell of cooked stats, if you deny the symptoms of the patient then you can never cure them. The total number of jobs added last year was 86,000 and we had 7% growth. That is pathetic. We are having a jobless boom, so much money swilling, record profits but no jobs. If there are no jobs then there is no boom. We judge our progress on shiny new buildings, empty buildings, mountains of debt with no tax-base to pay for it. We have some 350,000 tax payers and that barely grows, they are paying all the income tax. The Labour ministry is sleepy, it is a sweet job where nothing happens and you get promoted because you avoid scrutiny by doing NOTHING. People are so fed up with them, most want it disbanded as it doesn’t know its purpose. Just pay govt workers on time, that’s all. Rwanda has a whole black economy worth $20bn, all this growth is just bringing these shadow businesses online, we can have 10-15% growth with the right policies.




The Fundi scenario


Here is a story we all know well, I am sure you will appreciate this illustration of our structural problems.


Tap is leaking or lights are out, you need a technician, there is no directory of approved plumbers so you send someone to ask around. The first person they ask “Do you know any plumbers?” and they answer “Funny you should ask, I did plumbing for a Belgian, I am one of the best in Kigali, ask around” The odds of bumping into Kigali’s best plumber at the first time of asking are slim but you accept.” The first thing he asks you for is money to hire tools, a professional should have tools but in Rwanda they rent tools from the hardware shop. He is stinking of booze, the Sudiweri – little liquor bottles of 100ml marked “Sealed Well” Sudiweri. He asks for an advance and comes back 6 hours later even more drunk, this time he needs money for parts only. You dismiss him but you get another drunkard, maybe they do it. Even if they can do a job, they deliberately sabotage and leave something loose so you call them again.


Look around in the room where you are sat right now, is it straight lined? You see the window at a slight angle, the floor is never level, the people who build it can never see it. It is “Good enough” never the best job you can do, just enough, people are often over-budget and behind schedule so they never do things straight. I never look at Rwandan buildings because it pisses me off, the tiny mistakes amount to a lot, it looks great when it is new and shiny but eventually the ugly shows. The drunk Fundi who measures by closing one eye and tilting his head till it is straight, we need to professionalise him, maybe even get some more her’s in the sector. The real jobs are not being counted, over 2m Rwandans have jobs that are unrecognized, bicycle mechanics, handy men, day labourers, painters, transporters, vendors, hawkers, small bankers. They are outside the economy, they don’t figure in the knowledge based economy dream we have, but they are the vast majority. How do we bring them online into the main economy?


Formalizing the informal


UK had the same problem, drunk Fundis, thieving technicians, what we have now. Then there was a law introduced saying clients could sue fundis who did a bad job. Now the Fundi’s had to get insurance, to get insurance they had to register for tax, they also had to declare an income. Now imagine if Sonarwa had to pay every drunk fundi who messed up? Now they would set up qualifications and standards required to get insurance. So the client is covered, the worker professionalises, the fake imposters are removed because they don’t have insurance. Then we can have a minimum wage that is worth it because quality is guaranteed. You should not be able to call yourself a bricklayer unless you have been approved by the City Guild of Workers, your exam is to make a wall of bricks against the clock and meeting good standards. Same with plumbers, electricians, mechanics, tyre-fitters, even basic labourers should be certified and covered with insurance, making it mandatory will expand our insurance sector which lacks subscribers. After that we will start to see our windows straight, our floors will be level, and people will have jobs.


Many have proposed a job agency, one twitterer was adamant that Labour should be moved away from the ministry of Labour otherwise it will wither. Then what would be the point of Labour as a ministry? We have this fascination with creating autonomous stand-alone institutions because we cannot fix the bureaucracy and institutional memory in certain institutions that resist change. Labour is a good example of this with an autonomous Capacity Building dept. What is their purpose? They cannot create jobs but can provide a framework towards formalization, while also connecting people with jobs, and employers with workers. The metrics of measuring unemployment also need to change, you can’t count subsistence farmers as employed, then measure the jobless as part of this overall number. It should be those seeking work as part of the total formal taxpayers. That is why we need an agency that truthfully collates employment numbers in all subsections of demographics to give us a better idea of the problem and how to solve it. Instead they cook the numbers to look good, 2% go away, no problem here. That is a problem, we should sack ministers without problems and dissolve their ministries, if only 2% unemployment then we can close it, there is no problem of employment. We all know this is false because many young graduates we know are unemployed for up to 3 years after graduating, no one counts them because they are fed at home but anger is mounting, and it is wasted potential.



Lowering entry barriers


When you look at classified ads for jobs in Rwanda it is almost saying “Kenyans and Ugandans only” they are demand too much for too little pay. They want qualifications and experience, but also want youth. How can you get experience in Rwanda in such a new economy? Even when they hire experienced Kenyans and Ugandans their experience cannot fit the Rwandan context. It is better to lower entry barriers and employ our own, we talk of Agaciro but we worship Kenyans and adore Ugandans, even if some suffer corruption and laziness. Most of these expats are just looking for a way to make quick money, to earn expenses or fake them, they have no investment in Rwanda and all the money goes back home. A university degree should get you any entry level job in Govt then you can learn as you go, a job of $500 a month requiring a Master’s degree is left empty for years, any non-stealing worker would be better than empty. We need to lower our standards and make the best of what we have, get people who are enthusiastic and willing to learn, and not second-hand cast offs. We have to believe in Rwandans, not just their book knowledge but cultural knowledge and understand their context better. I worked with NGO’s where I was told I am too “involved” and my opinions were clouded the same type of thinking. We also think like that as a people. We can do it, so bring that Diploma from ULK, or UNR, or Kabyayi and let us build our nation together.


Part II coming soon

True social banking and social security


What is the point of a bank?


Rama Isibo

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

The Africanisation of American politics



There has been a strange synthesis in politics, a reverse osmosis if you will. When an experiment has the reverse effect to what you envisaged. There has been this prevailing notion that if only African nations could be more like America – the land of the free and the home of the brave, then they will develop better. Markets will decide what levels of development we have. There is this idea that there is something inherently corrupt and irredeemable about our African nature that makes us undemocratic. If only we could shed our culture entirely will we be able to enjoy the fruits of modernity and Western excess. As we have seen in the West, particularly America, we have managed to infect them with our dirty politics, woe unto us. If we had an African election between a former First Lady who used her husband’s connections to build a business and political network that granted favours in exchange for money, they’d be stories of how this reflects our basic nature as corruptible beasts. If an African contender in an election had said he wants to expel a certain tribe he didn’t deem worthy, we would have ICC threatening charges. When Mswati holds his Reed Dance of young nubile semi-naked women, showing off their bodies for his personal amusement, we say SAVAGERY, Trump calls his “Miss Teen America.” Like Trevor Noah said, Trump would be the first African president of America. I tried to explain the absurdity of this to Africans, they just see it as politics as usual.


Bombastic rhetoric is a hallmark of African politics, when you talk to the international cameras you use the language of diplomacy, call your opponent an honourable Gentleman. However, when you go home and talk to crowds in your native language, it is talk of war, talk of murder, and talk of revenge. You tell your tribe that they are discriminated against by a system that favours the unworthy, hard workers are left behind while jobs go to those who don’t deserve it. You say that ONLY YOU can fix this mess. The truth is that, like most African countries, the elite is in bed together. They pretend to fight for the cameras but behind the scenes they joke and laugh together, while supporters fight each other.


No details are ever offered, solutions are deliberately vague, “We will increase GDP by 10% a year” How? Never an answer, instead you point to the mistakes of your opponent and smearing. “My opponent wants to increase your taxes and kill the economy” What do you want to do? I can’t tell you, but trust me, it’s all gonna be rosy. There has been no policy debate, much like an African election, just platitudes, or intense rambles from Hillary which are all smoke and mirrors. We can’t even agree on facts, something that should be irrefutable. Is the economy growing or shrinking? Depends on who you ask.


Jailing opponents is the inevitable element in African politics, when you have the power it is the first order of business after swearing in, some even jail them before. You have the power, what can stop you? Suddenly the tax office goes after the opponents businesses and those of their allies, the opponent is jailed on flimsy treason charges. There can only be one bull in the kraal so the loser must go to exile or jail, never to roam free where they can plot their eventual victory. Power is a roll of the dice, losers lose, winners win.


Trump won’t recognize if he loses, if he wins he expects Hillary to call him to congratulate him, but if he loses then he won’t accept. That is so African, no leader ever accepts defeat graciously, even if there was the slightest problem caused by bad logistics they blame they. A big man is never defeated, like a boxer who is knocked out but claims he was hit unawares. Trump wants to start another party after the GOP is done with him. A party centered around him, his ego, his connections, like an African party, when the leader dies, the party dies because  it was all based on patronage around him.


Mswati reed dance is seen as outdated savagery, but Trump televises his Reed Dances, he can walk into their dressing rooms as the undress, same stuff. An African would see this as his right to do so, to bless these fertile young women with his admiration. The grabbing of women and ravaging them is what Idi Amin did, many others, in fact more African president did than didn’t. Allegations of sexual predation against Trump have solidified his base, their man is sinned against. Much like when Jacob Zuma was accused, the woman was tarnished as a whore, supporters of Zuma made excuses for him. Why now? This was politically motivated, he would never do that, then, it was consensual. Bill Clinton was excused by a whole panel of prominent feminists, they stuck to him because he was from their political tribe despite his misogyny.



Claims of rigging and Ethnic divisions are part and parcel of every BBC report on an African election. Yet we hear it is neigh on impossible to rig an election in USA, we saw what happened in Florida 2000. Like in Africa, no need to rig, just deny voter ID to those less likely to vote for you. Around 14 states in the South, mainly Republican leaning, have made it harder for Blacks and other minorities to vote. Blacks are asked for 3 forms of ID, so a Driving License and passport are not enough, Whites are rarely asked for ID. In African election it is common to deny members of your opponent’s tribe the right to vote, even if they want to vote for you. In the areas supporting an incumbent even children get ID’s to vote, like in Kenya where Central had 110% voter registration while Nyanza province which votes for Raila Odinga only got 40% of voter ID’s. Instead of appealing to new voters with policies to excite them, it is easier to stop them voting, that way you don’t have to evolve as a party. This is what Republicans do, instead of appealing to Black and Latinos who make 30% of the nation and are increasing, they double down, block them from voting and stay the same.

White lives matter too, for the first time in history, stats are pointing downwards for whites. They have gone from 90% to 65% and will be down to 49% in 20 years. Rumors of the demise of the white race are now ringing true in some ears, the worst subsection are Trump’s core base – working class white males aged 45-55. These are the men left behind by globalization, the men who had safe Union jobs that are going abroad. There is a high mortality rate among these men, there is a 40% opiate addiction rate among this group and no one is listening to them. The solution was to medicate a generation that was likely to complain, the pharmaceutical companies saw a gap in the market to produce legal drugs; vicodin, zanax, percoset are all the exact chemical composition as cocaine or heroin, but legal. These drugs have been prescribed by doctors for profitand they put drug dealers out of business. The problem is when these prescriptions run out, they turn to real cocaine and heroin. Black went through this in the 70’s in the first wave of deindustrialization, crack and heroin ravaged societies, now whites suffer the same effects.


Corruption is the system, the system is not corrupt, it is working fine. You have to pay for play, no official will meet you unless you pay a donation to their reelection. Large companies pay absolutely no tax, by writing off their donations to the parties. If this was Africa, it would be corruption but in USA it is called Lobbying – we need to start using complex words to describe our corruption, lobbying fees aka bribes. What killed African democracy is killing American democracy, money, the collusion between the Political and Economic elite to preserve themselves ahead of others. In a democracy, the Political class should oversee the Economic, and economic class holds the political class accountable, but there was a secret deal. A wink, a nudge, that is all it takes, for the watchman and the thief to collude. Like Africa, the private sector is plundering the state, inflicting debt and deficits on the tax payer, the politicians collude to bail out these huge corporations.


Hillary will be more of the same, Big Business and Wall St will rejoice at her election, more corporate welfare. Trump would be a DISASTER in his own words, like having a 7 year old with nuclear codes, it could end humanity. So Hillary wins, but I hope she is blocked at every turn, and ends up a one term president and the dirty secretive style of government goes with her. She took control of the Democratic party apparatus so no other challengers could emerge, it only emerged later what a weak candidate she was. “Hillary lost to a black guy with a Muslim name, then barely beat a 74 year old Jewish guy, now she can’t even finish Trump. Hillary!!! We’re trying to make this easy for you and you can’t do it.” Said Bill Maher, comedian. It is like being asked if you want to get shot or stabbed. Hillary is the slower death, death by Wall St, death by deficit, secret deals behind backs. Take your pick, now you know how Africans feel about their politics.


No diggity Lyrics from 96 from Blackstreet

Rollin’ with the phatness
You don’t even know what the half is
You got to pay to play
Just for shorty, bang-bang, to look your way
I like the way you work it
Trumped tight, all day, every day
You’re blowing my mind, maybe in time
Baby, I can get you in my ride

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment