When men become stooges for the sake of their daily bread

Be very afraid when an expatriate turns out with information that even the senior citizens in a given country have no idea about. And when that expatriate is an American who for over 10 years has been advising a president – who gradually is turning into a dictator –  it helps to be very frightened.

I can only imagine Michael Fairbanks is only trying to justify his stay in Rwanda as a money reducing agent given his astronomical salary for doing: well, nothing other than advising the head of state on how to effectively become a bona fide dictator. For, why would an American advisor to the head of state know to details that a Rwandan General who himself said he fled Paul Kagame’s repression, actually ran away from a military tribunal for sleeping with another man’s wife?

If this were true, and assuming of course that the said General whoever it is (quite a few of them have since fled) ran away because somewhere in Rwanda, an irate husband is lurking and fuming, why would the affected general find it relevant speaking to a senior presidential advisor about his family tribulations? Do these advisors not have work to do? Are we meant to believe really, that the few remaining generals in Rwanda are too dippy to think through even the simplest of issues like domestic disputes?

Interestingly, Michael begins his piece somewhere in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He is a catholic who despite having lived in Africa for years still believes that nothing good comes out of it, until he goes to Rwanda. Notice too, that this is an academic and teacher who though he does not say until when, confesses to having been racist. Now, any one who has been a victim of racism or any racial taunts like I have, will agree that you simply don’t become racist. Racism is an ideology. Had he been Rwandan, his confession would have led him to jail for the equivalent of racism in Rwanda (ethnic hatred) is a crime under genocide ideology laws. But he is a free man now because he is on the right side of the political spectrum.

Like David Hume and Otto Weininger, Michael Fairbanks belongs to the same school of thought who believed that no genius has perhaps scarcely ever appeared amongst the Africans, and that the standard of our morality is almost universally so low that it is beginning to be acknowledged  black people’s emancipation was an act of imprudence.

He will not tell you why a young catholic boy would be racist even when Catholicism preaches love for one another and compassion. Why? Because explaining this would lay bare the true Michael Fairbanks. He has been in Africa long enough, studied and researched about her people and thus, knows very well how to handle those in charge. Even if it means offering advice on family disputes between generals who can’t keep their wives at bay, he will do so, as long as there is a massive paycheque and he keeps in good books with the regime.

In typical PR language, Mr. Fairbanks clearly goes over the political spin stating that Rwanda is the only country in Africa that spends more on education that it does on its military. While this may be true, he tactfully falls short of giving us the real figures and whether the overall illiteracy levels in Rwanda have gone down as a result. He might be true in his assertion that the Rwandan government spends less on its military but he neglects the fact that the Rwandan defence budget is mostly classified thus hard to exactly tell how much is spent each year.

In 2007, I remember speaking to the then State Minister for Energy and he was well in support of phasing out the number of foreign advisors that are on Rwanda’s employ. The minister’s argument was that these fellows are siphoning the country’s foreign exchange courtesy of astronomically wages footed by the tax payer. Yet, these are the sort of jobs that locals could do for far less money. We all recall when in 2006 the government of Rwanda through the ministry of education signed a contract to import 200 Kenyan teachers at $3000 each a month, to teach sciences in Rwandan secondary schools.

Had it not been for my opinion critiquing the move, the government would have signed a further 500. All this was being done while the local teacher earned a paltry equivalent of $250 at the time. I was cautioned about the story and no one has even ever bothered to make the ministry of education account for what differences these teachers made and whether there is anything to show for the massive investment or if they are still in the country, anyway.

Judging from what Mr Fairbanks says in his Huffington Post Op-Ed republished by Rwanda News Aagency, it would appear he was in the country then. If this is a gentleman who we should believe as being in Rwanda to help the country develop, I would like to know if he ever asked the authorities or even advised them against the policy as opposed to say investing the amount on training local teachers who the country would later turn to instead of depending on the expensive lot from Kenya.

Am even sure Mr. Fairbanks (a former Wall Street banker), like many in his trade will have read the February article in The Times of South Africa where it was discovered that Rwanda, a very poor country by any standard, had spent a staggering $100 million between 2003 and 2008 on the luxurious Bombardier Global Express BD-700 jets. The two acquired to transport the man he is so keen at advising. If Mr. Fairbanks was keen at seeing Rwandese out of oblivion, his first words to the man who employs him would have been that the $100 million could help set up 5 medical centres throughout the country so locals can have easy access to standard treatment instead of relying on one referral hospital in the capital, Kigali.

Instead, Mr. Fairbanks (who has been on the same planes on his trips with the president outside Rwanda) fearing for his job was busy leading his employer on and suggesting that he actually shuts down the BBC and later Umuseso for publishing and relaying news considered anti-establishment. And if you are President Paul Kagame, why would you fire a stooge like this one?

The fact that an academic of his stature who has written some books and been brought up in a catholic family, claims Victoire Ingabire an opposition leader is minor because she just acquired a Rwandese passport baffles even the simples of minds. How about Frank Habineza, has he also been in possession of a Rwandese passport for a couple of months. What does Mr Fairbanks want the world to believe as being the reason why his party, the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda is yet to be allowed holding a meeting?

He suggests the criticism against Rwanda’s law on genocide in relation to oppression are unfounded and baseless arguing that even in Europe, vague laws have been adopted before. Well, if over a dozen European countries have laws that are vague or considered vague, is that reason for Rwanda to make vague laws?

He says “I called the Communications Director for the President and formally requested the list of news outlets that work in the country that have not been banned. The office provided the list to me in a few hours, and I was told that no one else has ever made that request. It is a varied list of world-class organizations functioning well.

Time, Newsweek, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, AP, AFP, NPR, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, CBS, CNN, NBC, CBC, Guardian, Times of London, Independent, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Economist, Al Jazeera, NHK, East Africa TV, SABC, ETV, France 24, TV5, FR3, TF1, RFI, Canal+, Jeune Afrique, Der Spiegel, Arte TV, VPRO”.

Did he ask whoever was on the other end of the line why the BBC was not on the list? And of course if we are to assume it was not on because the list as stated was of world-class organisations functioning well, is he complicit in the belief that the BBC functions badly? Really?

It is sad when sensible people are carefully turned into yes men for the sake of money. I have even seen friends turn into enemies and overnight supporters of the regime in Kigali that everything I say, they jump on to abuse me as being anti-Rwanda and more Ugandan than I am Rwandese. Bullocks! Who said sensible reasoning had anything to do with ones nationality? With Mr. Fairbanks in the mix, may be it does.

Later my little monsters…


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

One thought on “When men become stooges for the sake of their daily bread”

  1. This is very sad. The way this country is being led by One man, it all makes my mind worry. The sycophants– Yes Men_ are not and will never be the agents of change but simply always the overnight gov’t supporters– Rwanda, I pity you—

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