Scheduled for May 12, the visit of the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, appears to put William Penn University on the offensive defending the relationship so far developed between the learning institution and Rwanda, the small country of the Great Lakes region of Africa, which has been at the centre of atrocities committed there for the last two decades.
In a reply to Tom Hallberg, who had invited the University not to have Paul Kagame as their commencement speaker for graduation, Steven C. Noah, Vice President for Government Relations and Special Projects explains:
‘Many of us have friends who are genocide survivors, and we are all horrified by the entire bloody history of the Lakes Region of Africa since the beginning of colonization by the West. Nine members of our senior staff and board have made sixteen trips to Rwanda since 2008 in an effort to help educate the young people of the country. That is what we celebrate, and what you are so crassly protesting.’
Maybe what William Penn University does not understand is the fact that those who are protesting against their invitation of the Rwandan president as their guest speaker are not opposed to the partnership between the institution and Rwanda, but the opportunity that they offer to the dictator to clean his criminal image internationally. If they can develop the relationship without such possibility, there won’t be any protest. What survivors of Paul Kagame’s wars and ongoing oppression in the country want most is to have him in front of a court.
As that seems to be the case, the university has been fed by Paul Kagame’s narrative of Rwandan recent history, which blames the West of its colonial past over the country and sees hutus as the only responsible of the Rwandan genocide, excluding him from his pertinent role in what happened then. It won’t be neither surprising if the same story as RPF has told it million times states that current imprisoned political leaders [including Victoire Ingabire, leader of FDU-Inkingi] from the opposition were also genocidaires, while their only sin has been to stand firmly against Kagame’s dictatorship.
It would be advisable to the university to put in balance what their friend has been telling them since they know him and what verifiable facts about his actions prove on his character. If after such exercise, they can still stand on his side, those protesting against Kagame’s visit to William Penn University will conclude appropriately.