The “Messiah” who is putting Kagame’s govt to test

She remains as determined and hopeful in her dream to become Rwanda’s next president and possibly the first ever female head of state in the volatile Great Lakes Region of Africa but if hope is her charisma, she must know by now, the road to this feat is potentially, a very rough one.

Victoire Ingabire, 42, chairperson of the yet to be registered Unified Democratic Forces (UDF), a coalition of Rwandan opposition parties with members in Rwanda and abroad returned to Rwanda only last month following some 16 years of exile in the Netherlands, to register her party and get ready for the August presidential elections.

She has since proved a constant pickle to spin doctors in Kigali who have been running a series of hate stories against her and the party she represents, in a manner, only reminiscent of the hate media days that characterised the country prior to the genocide.

The government controlled and only English daily in the country, The New Times has consistently run very critical commentaries about her with some so nasty and badly written the authors names had to be doctored according to inside source at the paper.

But while this is probably what Ingabire will have been told to expect the day she made the decision to go back to Rwanda and prepare to contest for the top seat in the land, events from the last couple of weeks after her arrival have left many wondering whether the country’s media industry may have learnt anything from its distasteful past.

One would think that having witnessed the awful manner in which publications like Kangura and radio stations like RTLM were used in pre-genocide times to spread hatred among Rwandans, media practitioners in today’s Rwanda would be the last to resort to hate campaigns and dehumanisation. Not so says one Felix Muheto.

In an editorial that appeared in January 21, publication of The New Times, Muheto, who it has to be noted is a pseudo name for a leading Kigali spin doctor, imperially questioned Ingabire’s credentials as a presidential candidate in a manner that casts doubt as to whether journalism in Rwanda has changed for the best or the worst post genocide. “Mrs. Victoire Ingabire, in her Parmehutu nostalgic mind thought it wise to start her ill-fated struggle for the country’s highest office by seeking her ideological ancestors’ blessing for another revolution. “Well ! Is she the messiah who is going to cleanse them of their confessed sins for participating in genocide while planning to involve them into another ?” he wrote.

Muheto’s stinging allegations were even considered so important that The New Times, which maintains it is an exemplary and constructive media house published his opinion as an editorial.

Patrick Bigabo, a journalist and former employee of The New Times who currently is in private business told me it is less to do with a failure to learn from the past but a concerted desire to hustle free speech. “It has nothing to do with preserving what we have achieved over the years. Truth is, Kigali has been caught pants down.

Ingabire is viewed as a threat and so to counter her resurgence, the only tool is to attack. They will go to any level to make it extremely diffcult for her,” he says.

And go for her they have. Immediately after arriving in Rwanda on January 16, Ingabire headed to the genocide memorial at Gisozi in the outskirts of the capital Kigali where she is said to have delivered a speech.

The government says her speech aimed at evoking arguments of a double genocide, Ingabire’s camp maintains her speech was honest and aimed at challenging critical thinking and looking at Rwanda’s history “objectively”. Whatever the case, Ingabire’s arrival and subsequent speeches in Rwanda appear to be making Kagame’s government run scared. Otherwise why would Felix Muheto and the lot find themselves pre-occupied with criticising and literally demonising a lady who many agree stands no chance of winning the August election ?

There is little chance her party will get registered. Her mother …as we have since come to understand has already been accused of playing a role in the 1994 genocide and was sentenced in absencia by the Gacaca court of Butamwa. Even Ingabire’s camp is aware the government is trying to use this against their presidential hopeful. A recent communiqué from a party member, Chris Nzabandora noted :

“In a healthy democracy, discussion should be focused on issues not individuals. Ms. Ingabire is in Rwanda to defend a program not her own personal interests. The New Times is trying out cheap propaganda to imply that genocide ideology is a family rooted crime, to which every family member is answerable. This is not true.” Ingabire Attacked

That a presidential hopeful was attacked by youths and his aide beaten up so severely to the extent he had to be rushed to hospital calls into question whether the government is ready and willing to provide security to aspirants.

There is rumour too that the attack was an inside job by some elements within the establishment keen at sending Ingabire a message that she either gives up or prepares to face similar or even worse incidents. This argument is supported collaborated by the inconsistencies in the reports of events as told to different media outlets by Police spokesman Supt Eric Kayiranga.

While he told Reuters that Ingabire was beaten up by mobs who were angry at her politics, he told this reporter on phone that the five men police was holding over the matter confessed they wanted to steal her bag and had nothing to do with Ingabire as a politician.

But speaking to Reuters, Gregory Mthembu Salter a research associate at the South African Institute of International Affairs, said the attack may reflect a need for Rwanda to uphold freedom of speech better.

The country has often come under heavy criticism for its continued limits on freedom of speech, press freedom and rule of law – a criticism Kigali vehemently denies. The coming presidential election will be a stern test to the establishment in Kigali.

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Author: ellyakanga

I am Eleneus Akanga. Welcome to my blog about my experience as a Rwandan journalist and all that comes with the trade in East Africa. It's been a great journey so far but very challenging at times. Join me, let's get cracking! ellyakanga@usa.com

15 thoughts on “The “Messiah” who is putting Kagame’s govt to test”

  1. good to see you here Elly, and to hear your views. THis is a great resource. Keep up the good work.

    I have my own blog about the lack of democracy in Rwanda. See this link: democracywatch-rwanda2010.blogspot.com/

    1. Akanga, what did you expect? Ingabire to be given a red carpet in kigali upon arrival? this is politics and politics is a competition, so you expect RPF and Kagame to give her an SUV and a GP to see that people like you dont yap? if the word ‘spin doctor’ was evil and not a political word, then you would not be using it in relation to politics. Since its a political tool then, why do you blame RPF for using it? be rational in your criticism. And they keep saying RPF is using the ‘genocide ideology law’..then are the so called opposition retarded? why dont they just avoid it and find other ways of fighting kagame? the fact that they are so bitter that its been made a no go area is because they are so keen on invoking ethnicity as a politcal tool. and whn that happens, survival of some of us and the peace we enjoy will be history. And you are just yapping because you are in the safety of your asylum home wherever you are and wont be affected. Just get the hell off Rwanda’s back because you dont care, whatever you say is just to justify your asylum and daily bread – genius my foot!

  2. Patrice, i could as well begin by saying, if asylum was not political…then may be all my yapping would be… Honestly this is meant to be a debate not a quarrelling podium. If our president is being advised by people like you then i wonder whether he is safe. Debating should be about issues not personal attacks. If indeed am yapping, why dont you counter my yapping by telling me how it should be done? How many Rwandese are living happily without SUVs or even a GP? But they wake up everyday pray to God for the years ahead and thank him for still being able to breath – it is what they are happy with. Life is about choices my friend, to some waking up happy and with no threat is what makes their day, to others, life is more than generalisations. I have always said, that the peace and economic progress that Rwanda has seen in recent years has been in part due to PK’s strong leadership. However strong leadership is not an end in itself, people need to be able to feel and be part of the decision making process as regards matters which directly affect them. Am afraid, and as you and i know, this is not always the case. So should we give up saying what we feel can be done better because people like you my friend GIGI are going to fume? Not at all, peace and security is meant to be a fundamental right and as long as we fail to realise so, we stand to lose everything we believe in.

    I would not call the opposition retarded for sticking on playing the ethnic card. That is a strong word that calls into question whether you are not stating opinion with anger. Why would someone be considered retarded just because he thinks a certain group is being favoured or one side of the story is not being heard?

    Rwandese today know what the truth is. They have had enough talking to as regards ethnic politics and know when to believe what and when not to. Why do you have to assume that they will be hoodwinked into believing what they feel is divisive? Are you trying to say they have since forgotten what befell their country? No, not at all.

    And you GIGI…is this even your name? You think that by standing or sitting wherever and trashing every dissenting view that anyone brings up without even considering the facts of the case is positive propaganda? Am sure even PK will be ashamed of you.

    Thanks for passing by though, and continue reading for somewhere here lies the truth about what we can do for the better of our beloved country.

    Many thanks my friend.

  3. Great piece of writing. I personally think that Rwanda is a nation that has come far away. There was a time when we in Europe thought things would never be the same again as the genocide and civil war in the country ripped everything apart. However, you have to give credit to the people who have worked towards making the country what it is today.

    That said, prosperity and success does not translate into oppression. If Kagame and his men are as good as we have been made to believe, they should know that with democracy comes the need to open up. No country has ever embraced full democracy while taunting its opposition to measures that are unbearable. Criticism is ok and fine as long as taunts are genuine and aimed at nation building rather than point scoring.

  4. Akanga, yes, Patrice is my name, Mulama is my family name. i study in malaysia and i am not on scholarship, let this not give you ideas that iam may be influenced by this, no. iam just an independent thinker, with bias on what is good for my country – for the moment. James, kagame is only human, he may have some flaws here and there (he never went to expensive private schools to mold him with western values and all because he was condemned to refugee hood in the remotest part of uganda throughout his childhood)but he really has transformed this country is such a short time. But then, what people like akanga fail to understand is that while kagame and team have managed to engineer the economy and other aspects of development at a high speed, political processes cannot be engineered in the same way. Also considering what the country has gone through a genocide, it is hard to transform political mindsets in such a short time without courting anarchy. I am sure that even in europe this took some time before it stabilised. Remember also that Rwanda’s literacy rate is quite low, hence people are not in a position to make informed decisions. Since independence they have been taught to be followers – which is dangerous and difficult to turn around. Rwanda needs an opposition that is not sentimental, that is not selfish or power hungry. It needs a dynamic breed of young generation opposition that will be able to strip the RPF leadership of the sensitive coating by convincingly demonstrating that ethnicity is not necessarily the only way to solicit for power from the population. The current opposition has nothing to offer -no alternative to what kagame has been able to do in a short time, so they resort to playing the majority-minority card. They tell the population, which they know is majority hutu, that the tutsis are not governing adequately and whatever they see as progress would actually double or tripple is a hutu was in power! what lies!! this then unfairly swings the scale in their favor. This leaves everyone in a dilemma….illiterate population, ethnically biassed opposition..but whats true is that its too early to talk about full fledged democracy in Rwanda for now.

  5. Am not sure you prefer Patrice to Mulama but i must say this is exactly the kind of stuff i expected from you in the first place. Now whoever passes by will get to read through what your argument is and then make a choice as to whether they think it is the best way forward for a country as ‘diverse’ as Rwanda.

    And you didn’t even have to lay bear the fact that you are in Malaysia as a student and not on a scholarship. A loan or government scholarship is very acceptable with me as long as it does not compromise your reasoning. One might as well ask why allude to something unless one was paranoid? But that is still irrelevant in this case. Thank God you can afford foreign fees without some government support. Am only glad that you are now debating and not name calling.
    PS. Best of luck in your studies and remember to come home and help develop our motherland.

  6. Akanga, i elaborated that iam in malaysia because you had insuinuated in your earlier comments that i may be an adviser to the rwanda government, so i wanted to make it clear. and i did not want you to relate my views to a government scholarship.My views are very independent and i speak from a personal view point.

    Well, i will definitely come back home immediately i conclude studies, and its too sad you can never come back to help because you prefer to cry wolf in the UK so you can be fed. you cant face the hit, you cant stand it, you are a lazy coward so you decided to claim persecution because you had been waiting for that chance for a long time to go and live comfortably in europe because there would have been no other way of landing such an opportunity. Problem you did so by turnishing the image of my motherland, that is why iam bitter. why didnt you go like others and hassle it out? why hanst anybody harmed kabonero or gasana? atleast they have stayed and face the consequences of their stupidity but you, you were of no interest to the governemnt at all, you were working for their paper- you only feared to be sacked for your constant grammatical mistakes and misquotations and feared imminent joblessness and financial insecurity and decided to flee under the pretext of…gosh, i wish you would just keep quiet and stop talking! just enjoy what you are geting and stop those lies about Rwanda. Thanks

  7. It is very disappointing that this world still has people like Patrice. I honestly do not see any reason why any sensible person should write the things he has here. I can only assume he is one of those twats, who for the sake of argument choose to indulge in hopeless reasoning. If indeed he is in Malaysia, then he is either someone who’s got issues with you Eleneus as a person or he is simply hiding his stupid-self under the ruse of snide reasoning.

    First he claims Rwanda’s problem are related to the high level of illiteracy in the country and then as a learned person fails to show any difference from those who never went to school. I totally find this very hopeless and indeed disrespectful and would put my money on him not even being a scholar in Malaysia but some retarded moron somewhere in Kigali spinning the basins of political subservience.

    Then again, he says you fled Rwanda because you could not stand the heat. By the way Gigi, i presume it is heat you meant to say not hit as you put it. Does he then agree there was heat and then disagree with you for fleeing the same? Accepting there was heat would of course nullify his argument but he is in no mood to realise this and goes on to make a joke of himself.

    Am glad you let his comment through Eleneus.

    As a person born in Europe, i can tell you Gigi that there is nothing like an easy life here. If you are one of those who think European streets are plated with gold and coming here is a passport to a sweet life you need to do your homework. I have met Eleneus and i know him as a brilliant young man who has worked his way up the social status from an indeed very humble background. I take your comment as being anti-progress and i might as well remind you he is one hell of a good writer. I fail to then understand how someone in Malaysia would know Eleneus used to spell wrongly unless of course you were his former employer or editor. And what do you mean Gigi when you say Eleneus was of no interest to the country?

  8. James, I gave Gigi the freedom to say what he had to say, he used it to make a complete fool of himself. You see the distinction between being bright and lunacy is very clear. I am even struggling to decide whether to think of him as human because all humans have brains. He is what most people would call a lunatic. His post is what you get when people think using their bellies.

    Gigi is free to make a complete arse of himself if he wants.It is what happens when money changers become political advisers. They begin hallucinating about being in Malaysia studying when they are behind their desks telling the world how dense they are. Very sad indeed. Anyway i will still remind him that this is a debating platform assuming he hasn’t lost all his brains. Come on Gigi, prove to the world that you are human and not a monster, because as of now not many think you are the former!

  9. Well done Gigi. I cant blame you for failing to see what a tired fellow you are. Anyone reading these comments will agree that you need an education. UPE did not do it for you, you need USE as well. I will let you continue to make an arse of yourself in the hope that you learn from your mistakes! Block you? What for, i am a good man who wants bad people to learn because i realise you are so bad at argument, speech, grammar and all that only JA Bright can save you. Unfortunately, he is dead! But never mind, we now regard you as a promising old money changer turned academician! Take that! Are we still debating? I wonder if!

    I didnt know nationality was relative? Is this part of your thesis in Malaysia? Man, best of luck!

  10. Ha! Its gone far that I cant even comment on the article. i have many issues that I dont agree with Akanga in his post, but Gigi has dirtied the debating ground. Just for the record purposes, because I cant let it go, I could be in for opposition, but I dont think Ingabire is one to back. No! She is one hell of an idiot, not because she is hutu or whatever, she just doesn’t qualify for my support. I would rather listen to Twagira and the likes although they all play old style politics, with no alternative to what Kagame has offered, otherwise, could someone else please register!

  11. Akanga, its okey for you you to consider me illiterate or totally retarded but the fact remains that i have managed to expose you – it hurts and i can even touch it from the tone of your wrting above. Magnus, you say i have dirtied the debating ground? But whats that compared to akanga who has defecated on the image of my country? in the war to defend of my country, the end justifies the means. As for grammar, debating skills, these do not matter much to me. you are taking much concern about these issues because you now live in the Q’s land and it should now be your duty to defend every comma in every sentence. not me. would you like us to debate in kinyarwanda? you wouldnt dare because you are not a munyarwanda. I dont speak kinyankole because iam not a munyankole. bY THE WAY, UNLESS YOU KICK ME OFF YOUR PAGE, IAM WILLING TO TAKE THIS DEBATE AS FAR AS IT CAN GO. i cannot be cowed by you because i have never been a coward. actually if you wanna know me better, ask any rwandan liberator who participated in the ruhengeri prison attack who was the youngest RPA soldier during that attack. thats just a hint. thank you

  12. You have time to spend on your page because you can afford the time to spend all day hence the articulation of your writings. this shitty page is no place for me to worry about grammar, ‘speech’ and debating skills. This is no thesis paper and if i can only spare a couple of minutes to bash you, thats all i care. otherwise i have no time to waste on details.

  13. It will be completely foolhardy of me to even begin doubting the intelligence, competence and expertise of a the youngest RPA soldier. A Rwandan liberator you asked me to contact has indeed told me you are the temerarious Patrice Mulama. Hands up for you my dear friend. Now that i know who you are, i will rest my case because we are not in the same league and never will. I know of soldiers as people who dont shy away. Why are you using a pseudo name then Mr. Mulama? Why Gigi Kaboneza in Malaysia. Your comrades would want you to use your real names, they say.

    But thank you for making an effort to pass by this page every day. It increases my traffic and that is why i will never block you for you are the reason this page is popular! Thanks for doing my barking! For, why bark if you own a dog?

    My apologies to my learned friend Ignatius. I should have known he was far better than this. This is the stuff of youngest RPA recruits not journalists. As for Kinyarwanda, this blog is in English and i make the rules as to which language should be used. If you cant stand the heat, just get out of the kitchen- so goes, the adage.

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