Porcupine politics or empowerment politics?

An interesting piece from uncle Pan. And a good read too. Over to you people…

By Pan Butamire

Another opposition party has been thrust onto the crowded arena of political parties, usually with hardly a member, that are frequently being formed by self-exiled Rwandans.

Asked on BBC why he could not go back to Rwanda and form his recycled Rwanda Dream Initiative (RDI) party there, Twagiramungu gave his usual snooty chuckle and answered with a question: “Atari ukunsetsa se, urabona najya muri politiki y’ibinyogote?” (If it’s not for making me laugh, can I join porcupine politics?)

To this date, I’ve not figured out what he meant and yet that seemed to be the core assertion of his message. But that’s his stock-in-trade – to make high-sounding statements that leave his audience in the dark as to what he is saying. Apart from trying to insult people, what message was porcupine politics supposed to convey?

A porcupine is a huge, graceless rat by the standards of other members of the family of rodents. It is known to wear a coat of needle-like quills that it uses to advantage against predators. But, contrary to common belief, when a porcupine lets off its prickly missiles, it does not aim and only throws them off at random.

If in Rwanda porcupine politics is what prevails, then, does it mean a huge number of Rwandans behind this politics without knowing it has no clear direction for their advancement? And since it is earning high international ratings, does it mean it has blinded the international community and the positive change that they are seeing is not real?

I think we should read zero in this man’s utterances. He is a man who revels in ambiguous hyperbole. We know him in 1991, the days of “Rukokoma”, when he was berating the Habyarimana regime for not sharing out ministerial posts to different parties, even as the regime was engaged in killing its people. His concern was not his fellow citizens.

We know him as presidential candidate in 2003 when Rwandans brushed him off with a 3.62% vote. Bewildered as to why his winding hyperbole did not impress, all he could do when asked about the election was to wonder why Rwandans were making him laugh. To him, rejecting his politics of insults that did not propose any policies was an effort to entertain him. Clearly, a man devoid of an idea to sell.

I can understand it when Twagiramungu and his fellow oppositionists in exile express such outrage against, and sneer at, their fellow Rwandans in the country. But, pray, why do they hate innocent animals so? Why is it that they always equate whatever they hate to porcupines, snakes et al? It’s a sad commentary on the intelligence of these politicians. No wonder Nature herself seems to militate against their having another shot at leadership.

Yet for the past 18 years they have seen enough examples to have understood Rwandan politics. For working with the ruling party towards the common goal of nation building, the ten or so opposition parties in the country have had their way. Today, they participate equally in the leadership of the country because they contributed in making sure that the constitution rules against the case of winner-takes-it-all. They have contributed in making the ruling party – the party that won elections – take a collaborative approach to the governance of this country.

Here, politics is a science and it belongs to citizens, whether they are independent of parties, in opposition or in the ruling party. It groups them together to make collective decisions on how to advance their well-being. All citizens are involved in the search for solutions to their problems and in making sure their leadership works with them and co-ordinates these decisions. To Rwandans, politics is a process that empowers all of them equally.

Here, there is no place for individuals who play politics. The manipulative kind who use intrigue and heckling to take advantage of innocent citizens. The opportunistic lot who use devious ways to play at past misconceptions as a way to win citizenry support. The archaic politicos who think the environment is there to be abused and not preserved. The citizenry has long been juggled around to serve the self-seeking interests of these double-dealers and have had it up to here.

So, dear foreign-based brothers and sisters in opposition, why don’t you stick to manipulating the politicians in your new-found homes while there are still those naïve enough to swallow your anti-Rwanda wails? And it had better be fast because I see their number dwindling fast and Mugesera home-comings swelling in equal measure! Soon you might not find a single sympathiser to rummage around their pocket for that one-way ticket back to your abandoned home.

Otherwise, politics in Rwanda is the politics of nation building, development, empowerment, unity, justice, self-worth, others and, yes, reconciliation – with you too.  Come and you’ll see that when it comes to politics in Rwanda, a porcupine can teach you a thing or two. At least it knows that it enjoys as much respect as humans and that reciprocity is honourable.

Call politics in Rwanda porcupine, snake, cockroach, anything. It’s people-premised and it’s putting Rwanda among respected nations of the world.


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

2 thoughts on “Porcupine politics or empowerment politics?”

  1. Pan Butamire’s very positive view of the current situation in Rwanda reminded of a comment I had shared on Huffington Post in December 2011 when I came across another story claiming that Rwanda today is paradise on earth.

    “As a Rwandan, I am always happy to hear good stories such as this one coming from my country. That feeling lasts for a minute, and I am brought back to reality. The reality of a Rwandan government that is ruled by General Kagame who has imprisoned­, killed or exiled all opposition leaders. The reality of a Rwanda where virtually all this economic developmen­t is only benefiting a small elite and young girls from rural Rwanda leave to go prostitute themselves in the capital city of a neighborin­g country (http://all­africa.com­/stories/2­0111213109­9.html). But more seriously, the reality of Rwanda being ruled by someone who has been accused of possible genocide by the United Nations in its 2010 Mapping Report on DRC. As I try to take comfort in the good stories, I am saddened by the fact that a nation that is ruled with an iron fist by an accused genocide perpetrato­r is simply a sand castle that has no strong foundation and may melt away anytime.

    I keep on hoping that we Rwandans can discover a good leader a la Gandhi or Mandela, who can really bring the nation together through the power of speeches instead of the power of the gun. A leader who will realize that economic developmen­t without human rights and justice can evaporate any time.”

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