I have known prudence as the characteristic of exercising sound judgement. As a Christian I have also known that as a virtue, prudence takes into account the four cardinal virtues; one of which is restraint or temperance.
Accordingly, prudence is often associated with wisdom, insight, and knowledge. In these cases, the virtue is the ability to judge between virtuous and vicious actions, not only in a general sense, but with regard to appropriate actions at a given time and place. Distinguishing when acts are courageous, as opposed to reckless or cowardly, for instance, is an act of prudence, and it is for this reason that it is classified as a cardinal virtue.
The great philosopher Plato identified prudence as one of the virtues associated with rulers and reason. He was right. To quote the famous line in Spiderman the movie; with great power comes great responsibility. It is therefore very important that people in positions of power act not only with reason but virtuously. When those we consider brilliant act in ways that may be regarded irresponsible, it becomes hard to even trust whether they actually stand for anything.
Reading James Kimonyo’s piece published on the Foreign Policy Journal website, September 11, I was left wondering whether we as a people from Rwanda have learnt anything from our history. Amb Kimonyo is regarded by some as one of Rwanda’s best and may be it is the reason President Paul Kagame chose him to represent Kigali’s interests in Washington.
But while he ought as a selected public servant, endeavour to work towards pleasing and advancing the interest of the man who gave him the job, it is extremely loutish of him to forget the wishes of those from whose taxes, his salary is drawn.
Countering a previous article by one Sherelle Jacobs, Amb Kimonyo makes one sweeping statement which as an ambassador and someone whose position really demands prudence, ought to have carefully considered before committing himself to.
He wrote “While we encourage open debate on Rwanda politics and policies, it is important to accurately capture the events unfolding in the country”.
Great observation given what has and continues to go on in Rwanda. Mr. Kimonyo is until then, a man of integrity. And since this particular sentence was the second of his piece, few would have doubted he would stagger away so soon.
He goes on to talk about the concluded elections, noting that to him, they were fair because they were highly watched by the international media – something he uses as proof that democracy is thriving in Rwanda. Really? Since when did democracy depend on coverage of elections or how much publicity an election received at any given time?
Amb Kimonyo is not happy that despite what he sees as progress in Rwanda, many critics still mistakenly think the elections were unfair. How, you might ask. Look at his his next paragraph and you will know why Mr. Kimonyo belongs to that school of thought yet to discover prudence.
“Many point to the case of Victorie Ingabire to support their accusations that the 2010 elections were not free. Ingabire lived in the Netherlands until the 2010 elections were announced, when she moved to Rwanda to run for the position of president. Upon arrival, Ingabire stood on the graves of Tutsis lost during the 1994 genocide and called upon Rwanda to remember the Hutus, a group who carried out the bulk of the killings—an act that insults the memory and recovery of the Rwandan people who have spent the last 16 years trying to move on from ethnic divisions,” writes Kimonyo.
He goes on to accuse her of working with the FDLR, “Ingabire has been implicated by the UN report to have been working with this group and actively funding them, which increases and intensifies the killing, rape and destruction in the region. We cannot have someone who feeds such violence and hatred as the president of Rwanda.”
Wow…some awakening there! Kimonyo is simply implying that his government was right to bar Ms.Ingabire from contesting because among other reasons, she had lived out of the country for so long.
Even if it clear that Rwandan constitution which Amb Kimonyo is sworn to, does not prevent returnees from contesting, he thinks it is about time, this reasoning, was used against the most feared opposition politician in Rwanda. He completely ignores or chooses to neglect the fact that President Paul Kagame and most of those serving in Rwanda today, lived out of the country for twice the period Ms. Ingabire is said to have lived out. Kagame for instance was out of Rwanda for an incredible 30 years.
Amb Kimonyo, then goes on to make the most outrageous sweeping statement ever “.Upon arrival, Ingabire stood on the graves of Tutsis lost during the 1994 genocide and called upon Rwanda to remember the Hutus, a group who carried out the bulk of the killings…” Really? So Hutus are a group who carried out the bulk of the killings? Outrageous indeed! The Ambassador is implicitly stating that Hutus are a killer race, which obviously is worrying, especially since Mr. Kimonyo is the man representing the interest of Rwandans (majority of who are Hutu) in Washington.
Unless Mr. Kimonyo comes out to publicly apologise and change this outrageous statement, on grounds of equal justice, he should be charged under our very own Genocide Ideology Law. If people have had to serve years for just questioning the events of 1994, then what of an official that has stood up to claim that Hutus are a group that carried out the bulk of the killings?
And to make matters worse, Mr. Kimonyo then argues that Rwanda could not have let Ms. Ingabire, a person who has been implicated by the UN as having links with the FDLR as president of the country. Well that is only viable if it were proven as true. Second, if by inference, Mr.Kimonyo is saying that the UN is a great organisation only when it pushes for information that implicates perceived government enemies.
If the current UN report which has raised so much dust around the Great Lakes region was to point to the fact that Rwandan forces, besides committing crimes against humanity and possibly genocide, did also support some militias in the Congo – militias that for years wrecked the lives of innocent civilians there – can we trust Kimonyo to say exactly the same of his boss, who interestingly is now in serving in the position that Ms. Ingabire can not?
Like I said in the beginning, prudence is very important. Rwandans now need neither political spin nor humming subservience but strong minds. Minds that are not influenced by lies or the desire to exact revenge but the willngness to serve and develop in a manner that benefits not a few, but many. And Mr. Kimonyo, from what I just read, I am afraid you don’t seem to reflect this sort of mindset – in which case, I will pass you over to my little monsters…