When a regime upholds power for too long, and categorically unwilling to listen to its critics, people normally aspire to seeing it replaced, even when it has been relatively doing good deeds in the eyes of the majority. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case for the Rwandan leader during the time he has so far been around, already seventeen years since 1994. The Rwandan success story that he and his sponsors boost about is incomparably outscored when it is weighted against systematic oppression and ongoing suffering of millions of people under his rule in Rwanda and Congolese populations particularly from Eastern provinces.
Kagame and his shrinking inner circle is living in a bubble, out of touch with the reality that most Rwandans and other populations of the region experience regrettably because of his self-centred militarist policies and arrogance against anyone who opposes his views. When he says that “there is no democracy in poverty,” and gets the support of Black American leaders like Jesse Jackson, I find there is someone in that relationship who is being cheated. How on earth can an apartheid-like regime against the Hutu majority as led by Kagame be acceptable before those who experienced or even today can testify about American racism against black people in the US?
That is the paradox that events such as the protests in Chicago on June 11th, 2011, help to untangle. The Rwandan regime has propagated lies so much that most of those who have been lied to are taking time to find their ground with the true picture of the reality. But the truth is gradually coming to light. Despite the Umuvugizi estimate of 2 million dollars that Rwanda Day may cost to the Rwandan budget, most of the online publications which covered the event are mainly highlighting the presence of anti-Kagame protesters. Limited coverage if any of what was happening inside the hotel where the Rwandan president was gathered with his supporters tells the story.
The list of a few online sources which highlighted Rwanda Day in Chicago on June 11, 2011 includes:
Kagame, stop killing’: Rwandan and Congolese protest Rwanda’s president in Chicago – Ann Garrison
Man who inspired ‘Hotel Rwanda’ protests visit by nation’s leader – Chicago Sun-Times
Rwanda opposition challenges Kagame in Chicago – AFP
Rwanda opposition protests Paul Kagame’s address in Chicago – The Vancouver Sun
Rwanda president’s visit to Chicago draws protests – ABC Local
The Rwandan president gatherings outside Rwanda may have hidden agendas. One of them is evidently political propaganda. Dr Theogene Rudasingwa, from RNC, explained that Paul Kagame’s so pompous visits like the Brussels’ one in December 2010 and now Chicago are not necessarily what they are announced to be. Personally I consider them as a shield to protect the Rwandan leader against increasing marginalization outside his country. By seeing himself surrounded by people who fear him even outside his natural comfort zone, makes him more confident, but indeed at a very high cost for Rwandans. Let’s hope they won’t bear it for far too long.