How Africans have been mentally enslaved to hate everything about themselves and how Rwanda is defying it
THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda |“In these bloody days and frightful nights when the urban warrior can find no face more despicable than his own, no ammunition more deadly than self hate and no target more deserving of his true aim than his own brother, we must wonder how we came so late and lonely to this place.” Maya Angelou.
Brian Klaas, a fellow at the London School of Economics, perhaps did not know what he was getting himself into when he tweeted his Washington Post article, saying: “As the world focuses on Trump, African despots are violating term limits and badly overstaying their welcome.”
It was an article attacking President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, calling him a despot and a murderer and referred to the elections that have just been held as a sham. In response, thousands of Rwandans took to Twitter and savaged him in one of the most thrilling twitterstorms I have seen. Turns out the people he was “fighting for” don’t want his assistance.
“Over the last several decades,” Klaas wrote with the arrogance of his fellow colonialists, “Western governments (sic) have pushed for democratic reforms in Africa. In response to that pressure and calls from their own citizens (this comes as an afterthought) 18 African countries instituted constitutional two-term limits… But in Africa rules are far too easily bent or broken.” Klaas ends with his call on Western governments: “Now the time has come to push governments [in Africa] to obey their own rules.”
For Klaas, Africa is one huge undifferentiated mass of politics so that what happens in Gabon can simply be copied and pasted on Kenya and the analysis remains the same. Yet while he was right to say that attempts to remove term limits have caused popular protest in some nations of Africa, he ignored the fact that in Rwanda, it was popular and peaceful. In fact there would have been popular protest if the term limits had not been removed.
More critically, Klaas like many Europeans, Americans and African elites believes that our democracy should be the responsibility of Western powers. We Africans are supposed to be like children: instead of being active participants in the struggle for our freedom, we are to be passive spectators as white superintendents deliver it to us as charity. And it is not only democracy. The struggle to wrestle control of the destiny of Africa from Africans to white superintendents is tenacious and broad.
For instance, our human rights are supposed to be defended by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, our press freedom by the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders. Our public policies are supposed to be designed by the World Bank and IMF; our leaders are to be tried by the International Criminal Court; our poverty is fought by Oxfam and Action Aid; our story is told by the Washington Post and CNN; our hungry are fed by World Food Program while our sick are treated by World Health Organisation and Doctors Without Borders.
Even our heroes are supposed to be white and if black they are supposed to be anointed in Washington DC, London and Paris. Thus Bono and Angelina Jolie are the activists in the struggle to end our poverty while professors Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Collier provide the policy blue print. Our leaders are despots; so we need Barack Obama to tell us how to govern ourselves. For a country in Africa to be accepted as democratic, the decision is not to be taken by its citizens but by politicians, diplomats, “experts,” think tanks (like Freedom House) and journalists in Western capitals.