Following the Florida tragedy where a young black teenager, Trevon Martin was gunned in an apparent hate crime, President Obama made a profound statement.
Following the Florida tragedy where a young black teenager, Trevon Martin was gunned in an apparent hate crime, President Obama made a profound statement. Grieving with the rest of the nation, he stated that had he had a son, he would look like Trevon.
Just like in the Trevon Martin case, I wonder what goes through the mind of the American President when he watches television images of thousands of displaced children who closely look like his own, and had he had sons, indeed they would look like the young child soldiers and poor street children abusing drugs in despair.
It seems like even when the most powerful leader of the ‘free’ world is black, with direct African ancestry, and a real African grandmother, the backward stereotypes and negative perception on Africa reflected in American and UN foreign policy have not changed.
As the unfortunate events in the Congo continue to unfold, America and other western powers should lead the international community in addressing the core issues destabilising one of the world’s richest country and bring dignity, hope and economic opportunity to millions of Congolese.
Reading through press statements of the UN report projecting Rwanda as the main culprit in the Congo mess, cancelation of military aid to Rwanda by the US and others, and subsequent statements from the American office of global crimes that Rwandan leaders including President Kagame could face prosecution, I was not only disappointed but hurt by the narrow and simplistic consideration of the factors at play in the Congo.
Granted Obama is an American President, and not ‘African’, but surely Africa deserves better understanding of its issues from an American administration led by a President of African descent.
The world has already seen what can happen when arrogance and ignorance of western ‘experts’ is allowed to translate in policy, or establish itself as fact. How quickly the Americans, Europeans and the whole UN system forget their failure to humanity with the genocide in Rwanda just 18 years ago.
Rwanda alone cannot be held responsible for the chaos and lawlessness in the DRC. The problems in that country are as complex as a cobweb, with myriad of players, some nation states, others western companies representing interests of their home countries in the exploitation of the resource rich country, where most of the extracts end up in the same countries making the loudest noise in looking for scapegoats to blame.
Ironically, President Kagame was referred to as one of the greatest leaders of our time, by the former US President Bill Clinton during his recent visit to Africa.
Rwanda is not the most perfect nation in the world, but based on the record of rebuilding a viable nation after the devastating events of the 1994 genocide, successful efforts at peace and reconciliation, which has greatly helped communities cope with issues of justice and accountability, efforts to attain economic and social development for the ordinary Rwandan, which has continuously put the country’s rankings ahead of many developing countries on the global development index, the international community can give the country a break.
Most admiringly though in re-defining the Rwandan identity, in putting a very important principle of the value of the African before everything else, through a concept referred to as AGACIRO, loosely translated to mean knowing ones value. As Africans we should emphasise this concept of AGACIRO, and put it at the core of our being to refuse, reject, and resist the attitude, which has kept the African in the state of confusion and continuing to allow others to determine the continent’s destiny.
The contradictions in foreign policy are exposed when you compare Rwanda to Israel, which shares a similar history as a result of the Nazi genocide against the Jews 50 years ago. The US and their European allies on the UN Security Council, in defence of Israel’s security continues to condone its disregard of UN resolutions, USA extends over $1b in military aid annually, overlooks the subjugation of the Palestinians, and territorial occupation of three Nation States.
Rwanda on the other hand, a tiny poor country struggling to give confidence to its people, and provide economic opportunity, still has to contend with a clear and present danger of genocedaires living across its borders, protected and facilitated by the international community, America and the UN are happy to continue with business usual in Africa, because Rwanda is no Israel.
Rwanda, just like Israel has a right to security and in line with the responsibility to protect, the defence of its people against a potential repeat genocide.
The writer has a keen interest in international and regional politics
Address DR Congo’s core issues