For how much longer will Western media and intellectual community blind themselves with fallacious narratives about Rwanda?

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For how much longer will Western media and intellectual community blind themselves with fallacious narratives about Rwanda?
For how much longer will Western media and intellectual community blind themselves with fallacious narratives about Rwanda?

Africa-Press – Rwanda. As a scholar, having lived and worked in Eastern and Western Europe, North America, and West Africa, and given my academic interest in the history and politics of African postcolonial societies, I have read and written on Rwanda for over twenty years.

Despite the training I had received in critical theory and analysis throughout my education and career, it took a great deal of effort trying to avoid finding misinformation contained within Western scholarship on Rwanda or to escape frequent intellectual feuds with my colleagues and friends who are genuinely convinced about their good intentions.

Sadly, things are not getting any better as disinformation about Rwanda and the Rwandan people continues to spread like a torrent.

Western journalists and scholars alike have shown a great deal of creativity in spreading fake news about Rwanda’s colonial and post-colonial history, including and mainly through a denial campaign of the genocide against the Tutsi translated into a persistent negation of Rwanda’s self-realization since July 1994.

This denial operation finds its expression in a fallacy of a fictional long-established tribal conflict between the Tutsi and the Hutu, a common trope used by Western scholarship and media to define Africans wherever they dwell in the 1885/6-Berlin-Treaty-drawn Africa. Anybody reading the history of the Great Lakes region would quickly dismiss this fallacy, but “well-respected” scholars continue maintaining and spreading this false and disparaging narrative.

The assumed “tribal” conflict since time immemorial is claimed to be evidenced by a “second genocide” allegedly perpetuated against the Hutu (who had fled to DR Congo, or former Zaire, following the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda) by the RPF whose members are essentialized as Tutsi rather than fairly seen as an armed liberation entity which has freed Rwandans from a fascist Hutu faction turned genocidal government.

As part of this same deceptive narrative, the “double genocide” theory is being recycled through an unfounded accusation of “genocide” being committed by Rwanda on the Congolese soil. That perspective is dubiously conveyed through several misinformation campaigns, (such as the “Genocost” campaign), spread in all areas of intellectual and public life in DR Congo, relayed by the Congolese diaspora, a perspective which in turn is simply acknowledged and unchallenged by Western journalists and scholars.

This is a classic manifestation of negrophobia, term borrowed from Boubacar Boris Diop, François-Xavier Verschave and Odile Tobner, which in sum stands for the intellectual dishonesty and contempt that Western scholarship essentially engages in when dealing with African historical, cultural, and linguistic contexts, an intellectual contempt which is wholly exemplified by Stephen Smith in his Négrologie: pourquoi l’Afrique meurt and in a plethora of “respected books” written by “respected scholars”.

What these scholars and journalists tend to disregard is that the “double genocide” theory and its recycled contemporary manifestations are a continuation of infliction of pain and suffering on genocide survivors and victims of transgenerational trauma who are still in a long and difficult process of healing.

This campaign of denial and continued infliction of moral pain takes additional “creative” forms through the alleged Rwandan support of M23, claimed to be the root-cause of the destabilization of DRC (despite the presence of 130 or so other uncontained armed groups). This negation of Rwanda’s fruitful self-realization is further conveyed through an imagined theft of Congolese minerals by Rwanda, and a fictional Rwandan political, military, and economic occupation of Eastern DR Congo.

The additional fallacy about Rwanda in Western media and scholarship revolves around a supposed repressive governance and absence of freedom. This is illustrated in the ongoing and persistent harassment by Western public representatives and journalists – on the eve of the visit to Rwanda of the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken – who are using all their power to coerce the Rwandan government and justice system to ignore national and international law by releasing Paul Rusesabagina.

Although he was convicted by the Rwandan courts to a 25-years jail sentence, along with 20 other offenders, on terror charges, Western media and public officials are giving themselves a legitimate reason to ask for the release of Rusesabagina only because he is a US resident and because he has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 by President George W. Bush.

All these fallacies about Rwanda are the figment of imagination of a minority of interested people who are essentially looking for relevance in a world where popularity in academia, on social and mainstream media, equates to existing in the real world.

Had these fake narratives on Rwanda and the African continent remained within academic salons, it would have been appalling but not surprising as academia feeds itself on the invention of “attractive” and obscure theories on Africa designed to justify its own relevance, despite the said theories having little grounding in African reality.

The real issue at stake here is that this fictional narrative on Rwanda leads to bigger implications for Rwandans, as those same Western scholars and journalists are hired as “experts” in “human rights” in the Great Lakes region, writing pseudo-reports and seeking to legitimize a fictitious destructive narrative about Rwanda, which in turn influences national and international decision making, as well as international relations with Rwanda.

The denial campaign which we witness today in Western scholarship and media therefore perpetuates not only disinformation but promotes a genocide ideology which may lead to, as we have begun to see already, renewed atrocity crimes against the Congolese Tutsi in DR Congo.

This past July, I was not only moved at the Kigali Genocide Memorial and the truly palpable emotions the remembering of the genocide once again triggered in me, but by the warm welcome I received by many Rwandans who are visibly confident, optimistic, insightful, and by the collective effort, incisive initiatives, and creative solutions they have implemented for long-term sustainable peace and development.

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