Last week Rwandans were angered by Christiane Amanpour’s coverage of Paul Rusesabagina’s arrest on CNN. Prior to the television program, Amanpour had asked to host the Rwandan President, instead, she was suggested someone who knew Paul Rusesabagina well, Honourable Odette Nyiramilimo, a medical doctor, retired minister, senator and respected Rwandan mother, co-founder with her husband Dr. Jean Baptiste Gasasira of a private maternity practice in Kigali called the Good Samaritan.
Honourable Nyiramirimo is one of the survivors at the famous ‘Hotel Rwanda’ during the genocide against Tutsi, if anyone should attest to Rusesabagina’s heroism or none thereof, it is her. In Philip Gourevitch’ book that accidentally propelled Rusesabagina to fame, Dr. Nyiramirimo is featured.
Christiane Amanpoor wanted her program to show that Paul Rusesabagina’s arrest was politically motivated, but the participation of such a dignified lady, who knew first hand all the impostures of the ‘Hollywood hero’ undermined her plans. So her producers lied to Dr. Odette that she was running out of time and that the program had been cancelled . A few days later it was aired.
It was an incredibly one-sided coverage, in which she hosted one Anjan Sundaram, an impostor of the same league as Paul Rusesabagina. Last time I reviewed Sundaram’s book on Rwanda. Today, let me introduce you to the person:
When I met Anjan Sundaram in Kigali in the early 2000s he was unemployed. He claimed to be a stringer sending occasional articles to big newspapers in America, but in reality he was living off his girlfriend who ran a small NGO called ‘Internews.’ The NGO would raise some funds from donors in Kigali to organise workshops for aspiring young journalists which she ran in her office.
The office was a small living room in a residence house, divided in half, because she had to share it with another NGO, the Danish Institute of Human Rights. So she would have five to seven participants at a time.
I know this because a few learned fiends and I had started an NGO to provide pro-bono legal representation for those who couldn’t afford it. The Legal Aid Forum, which is now a big organisation in Kigali was initially hosted by the Danish Institute of Human Rights in the same office.
Anjan Sundaram had no qualification in journalism, but his girlfriend paid him to occasionally speak to participants about writing, because he knew English and had written a similarly paranoid book called ‘Stringer’, this time on DRC. Internews eventually closed – alongside many briefcase NGOs which added no value in Rwanda and the rest were forced to move out of residential houses. A few years later Sundaram resurfaced with a book, in which he describes himself as ‘the last journalist in a dictatorship’, who fought for media freedom with an army of resistant Rwandan journalists, and Paul Kagame was his personal enemy. When the book came out, Rwandan journalists Gody Nshimiyimana whom Sundaram featured as his sidekick in the book, was furious and wrote a scathing rebuttal.
Interestingly, if you had asked me before the CNN program, whom Christiane Amanpour would invite on her program, I would have immediately said Anjan Sundaram. Why? Because, for having observed who they are, where they come from and what they do, Sundaram, Rusesabagina and Amanpoor are the exact same person and have the same mission.
Indeed Dr. Odette Nyiramirimo, who has now retired in her native Kinunu village, where she hosts guests and plays with her grandchildren, had no business on their show.
Who is Christiane Maria Heideh Amanpour? She is an Iranian lady, who was propped up by western media to justify their wars and insult Muslims, Arabs and Persians.
In a dramatic interview with Late Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestinian Authority during the siege on his compound in March 2002, she asked: ‘Mr. Arafat, can you tell me please, have you been personally targeted? Have the rooms that you’re sitting in been attacked? Are you under direct physical threat right now?
Arafat responds: “Still you are not following. It’s aggression. Again it’s the Palestinian people in all West Bank and Gaza… They have destroyed completely seven of our buildings, completely, around my office, and firing my office with all their armament”
Then she went: ‘Are you able to rein in the violence?’
Mr. Arafat couldn’t believe it: “Are you asking me why am I under complete siege? You’re a wonderful journalist. You have to respect your profession, you have to be accurate!” before hanging up on her. Here is the transcript of the interview. Indeed, Christiane Amanpour has performed beyond her sponsors’ expectations.
Recently, when three young East African journalist friends of mine were hired by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), I wrote them a letter. I asked them to never forget where they come from. I said to them: ‘at first they will make you read from a teleprompter, but over time with subtle brainwashing, glorification and gratification, you’ll speak BBC better than BBC itself. I promised however to be here, to annoyingly remind them who they are, whenever I feel that they have forgotten.
We Africans have tales of impostors of this kind. Our elder Chinua Achebe refers to them as ‘the outsider who cried louder than the bereaved.’ In my culture it is possibly the most shameful position. Our Rwandan King Yuhi V Musinga preferred exile to baptism. Many of us subscribe to Musinga’s philosophy: It is called ‘Agaciro’. I suspect Iranians have that too.
Amanpoor, just like Rusesabagina represent hundreds of millions of imperialistic investment in image creation. They are among the most deadly weapons of mass destruction in their possession, created against us.
Rusesabagina’s ‘spotless’ arrest has just dispossessed the West of one of their WMD, but it is Rwanda’s signature since the end of the genocide against the Tutsi to do that. It is a jab struck at the heart of the empire. To put things in perspective, Rusesa’s arrest has the same impact as shutting down refugee camps in Rwanda and Eastern Democratic of Congo and the two million dollars-a-day NGO industry that was feeding on them.
At each of those instances, media and NGOs went into overdrive, but it is important to note that no single government in the world has condemned the arrest of Paul Rusesabagina. Indeed putting out of business famous enemies is the business of states.
Unlike anyone criticizing Christiane Amanpoor’s bias then, I would like to congratulate her for living up to my lowest expectations. I never doubted her prejudice, and she has proven me right. If she hasn’t been kind and respectful to her own people, how would we expect her to respect us?
My Siera-Leonian sister Aisha Sesay was one failed imperialistic project. She refused to be a tool and decided to leave CNN. Raised in a Muslim faith, Isha Isatu Sesay could have become another Amanpoor, yet she quit at the pick of her career as a lead Anchor for the network for thirteen years, abandoned the fame and the money to save her Soul.
In an exciting chat with a Zimbabwean sister Jose Mahachi, she explains why she resigned: By the time I left CNN, I was very, very tired of the coverage I was doing, I was not enjoying it. I never wanted to build a biased, negative narrative about Africa. This story of white people, Americans and Brits coming to save us, and scrubbing out our own participation as Africans, in my network, that was a low point for international journalism, and for me. I had to leave.’
She went on to found a girls’ education project called W.E. Can Lead and write a book about the abduction of Chibok girls in Borno State, Nigeria.
Aisha is respected and loved by her people, but you will notice that Amanpour would like to identify as a Brit, while Rusesabagina insists he is Belgian. Of course! They have betrayed their own people. In truth, Paul Rusesabagina is a Rwandan who was born on 15th June 1954 in a small Rwandan village called Murama. He may claim to be a citizen of Belgium all he wants, but we know him.
It is not easy to leave the western fame and rewards. Speaking strictly in terms of material gain, betraying one’s people is more enticing. One has to have more goals in life than the filling of one’s own stomach. One has to believe in something greater than oneself. Not everyone is capable of it, if anything, Rusesabagina and Amanpour are living proof of that.
Alright, since this article is not only for foreigners, allow me to share some Pan-African wisdom for my youngsters ‘Indangamirwa’: Guys, ‘Sibomana!’ They aren’t gods. They don’t get to choose among us, who is the sinner and who is the saint. Don’t be impressed: Rwandan heroes aren’t made in America.
They will continue to make noise, but we are still here. Next time I will tell you the story of Sharangabo, the son of King Rwabugiri and his giant cousins, the first time they met white people. I will share with you extracts of the notes of Gustav von Götzen. Our attitude towards bullies has not changed in three centuries.