Before you call Kagame a dictator, would you show some respect?

19895065_10155346681542936_7363295568687609267_n‘Many Africans see Kagame’s Rwanda as a model. [we people at the economist are here to say]: They are wrong!’

This is how the Economist signed its editorial this morning. In the last few days there has been similar reports: Human Rights Watch alleging that goat thieves and political opponents are summarily killed, and Amnesty International declaring that Rwandan elections will be held amid a climate of fear. All that is well and good, this morning I’d like to say to them: Tafadhali, show some respect.

Respect the Rwandan people who’s lives he has changed and who overwhelmingly elect him, the African leaders who asked him to reform the African Union, or just a little respect for the United Nations which asked him to chair the SDGs and the UN-Broadband, etc. At least have some respect for Xi-Jimping who shot dozens of canons to welcome him at the great hall of the People of China and the Pope who apologized to him in Vatican. Don’t forget that he helped liberate Uganda, Rwanda and DR-Congo. He also stopped a genocide and defeated the French.

His soldiers currently ensure the security of the Central African Republic’s president, trained those of the DRC president and are keeping peace in over seven countries on two continents; His ministers lecture at Harvard, sit on the board of the World Economic Forum in Davos and run the African Development Bank – one of them just came up with the formula for the African Union to fund itself, which was unanimously adopted. He also frequently lectures at the most prestigious schools and speaks at the highest Jewish annual congress. Can’t you show some respect to former UK and US heads of states who are his personal advisers?

Giving his annual lecture at Harvard Kennedy School

In fact, after reading those titles, I felt like going out and campaign for Paul Kagame – something I usually don’t do; I settled for a PK hat, and I will be wearing it at the opening of the Ubumuntu festival this evening, or at a Kenyan concert later tonight, and see if I can shake off that Amnesty’s fear…

But as someone who knows how these things work, I have no hard feelings with them. I believe we are entering a new geopolitical phase in this merciless war against imperialism. We fired the first shots when, in the late nineties we got rid of most briefcase NGOs in Rwanda, then followed them to Kivu and dismantled the refugee camps in eastern DRC, thereby closing the tap to an entire charity and democracy industry that employed thousands of foreign experts – most of them now work for these watchdogs.

We lost the second round by trying to justify ourselves, trusting that our interlocutors were making an honest mistake; they weren’t sadly. The following phase will be one of Agaciro. Standing our ground. Africa is at the brink of turning, abandoning the neo-liberal democacy ideologies which haven’t worked for our people and joining Rwanda in our ‘developmental pragmatism’ model. The ball is in our court, we must be assertive.

This re-election of Paul Kagame opens new perspectives. There were many African visionaries before him, such as Nkrumah, Sankara, Lumumba, Macher, Gadafi, Cabral and Mugabe. None of them had managed to build unanimous consensus on the continent as Kagame does, none of them survived their ideas as Kagame does. We have no oil, natural gas or diamonds, yet, Magufuli and Kenyatta in the East, Alfa Conde and Patrice Talon in the west, Ali Bongo in the center all declare publicly that they draw inspiration from him. African brothers and sisters come here to borrow a leaf, others simply to settle. 

Yet he is humble, speaks candidly, has a shy personality and a great sense of humor… I think the problem is that people do not know what it means to be inspired, because they have spent all their lives with humans of a lesser stature. Only we Rwandans know how to disagree with some of his policies, we do it with humility and due respect…