I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’ – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Never Again Rwanda, an organization that works to foster peace among Rwandans, and people of the African Great Lakes, launched a call for proposal for: ‘Evaluating the Social Healing and Participatory Governance for Sustainable Peace in Rwanda’. Please retain the title.
To do that, the call asked for a ‘Local Consultant’ to assist an ‘International Consultant’. In other words, a Rwandan to carry the bags and do the translation, for a foreigner who will come here and assess whether black people are about to kill each other again or not – do you see the picture?
Why is Never Again Rwanda doing this? Because that’s what their funders from Switzerland and Sweden, etc., want. In the end, the ‘international expert’ and his report will not be of much use to the reconciliation of Rwandans, Congolese or Burundians; in fact, the opposite is likely to happen: More protracted conflict.
I am saying that because on this link: http://bit.ly/2g9xa0V there is proof of how an ‘International experts’ from the UK recently published a report that Burundi was on its way to lasting peace, while Rwanda was on a path to imminent chaos.
The Scandinavian Institute that funded his research, wanted to show – as it could be read on its website – that Burundian president enjoyed popular support, and Rwanda’s president ‘lacked popular legitimacy’. Some diplomats in Rwanda also held the same view. All this happened a few months before Burundians took to the streets to ask their president to leave, while four million Rwandans petitioned parliament to ensure that theirs stays on. The said expert has since been promoted to lecturer at a University in Denmark, from where he harasses Danish students who visit Rwanda and fail to write negative reports…
There is nothing new about that though; Today the top expert on Rwanda in the west, is one Philip Reytjens, who was the ‘international consultant’ for designing the Rwandan constitution that entrenched ethnic identification cards and quota systems, which later led to profiling and extermination of the Tutsi.
The last time I saw him, he was in Burundi, brought by another peace institute to devise his expertise there. And now they have an ethnic quota system and drawing ethnic lists.
It is also documented that most international experts were not in favor of the Gacaca Jurisdictions when we introduced them – yet they are the reason we live side by side today. Those who were in favor, are increasingly ostracized by their peers and their media (a story for another day)
In this excellent article: http://bit.ly/28IBhx0 Nigerian feminist scholar Amina Mama explains how scholarship by Africans or painting African mores in a good light are systemically ‘diced and dismissed’ by western publishers and media.
In fact, the ICTR refused to return Rwanda’s archive after it concluded its work, because apparently Rwandans have a ‘vested interest’. To them we are not mature enough to take care of our own history.
Now, I do not want to be unfair to Never Again Rwanda or to dwell on the Genocide Against the Tutsi. This is a problem of racism globally, as advanced by NGOs. I have reviewed job offers in South Sudan, Pakistan, India, etc., and they are all asking for ‘international experts’ assisted by a local guy. Feel free to look at websites like: http://reliefweb.int/jobs or http://www.devnetjobs.org/
Nor do I want to generalize that ‘International Expert’ means ‘white explorer’ – there are certainly black people in America, in Europe, even in Africa itself, who can qualify for the title – I, myself was once an ‘International Expert’ – well, after mental bleaching (My experience is for another day too).
Now that racism cannot be practiced openly – at least in Africa, it has to be subtle; under the radar. Which is why the job offers say: we are looking for an ‘international staff’. This in effect emphasizes on the color of one’s skin and their origin, instead of one’s expertise. And the pay is usually that with the same qualifications, the black person gets paid less than 1/5 of the white person’s salary and benefits.
Martin Luther King is turning in his grave, his dream has become a nightmare. Fulfilling his dream would be launching a call for application to: ‘Staff with international expertise’ – not ‘International staff’, because, The King continues, ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. I have a dream today!’
The reality often remains that when they say ‘International expert or expat in Africa’, they are implicitly excluding black people because this is our home. We are, by definition local. We are indigenous. While ‘people with international expertise’ still makes no sense in the Internet era – at least it opens up to black and white people, and in fact one is likely to get the best of both worlds.
Besides, there is no one in the world who has expertise on our condition better than us, and history has shown, time and again that the expertise which is alien to a people is pernicious to them.
Not least, with the current spectacular failures of democracy in the west, we now have proof of what we were saying all along: that imported western democracy is a Trojan horse in Africa.
Let them be referred to as experts of the Great Lakes, expert of East Africa, experts of Africa or even the Globe, by their own narcissistic people. We here, must not accept that! The only reason this is done in Africa is because we accept it.
In Rwanda we have achieved step one of decolonizing: we have totally ignored their theories and moved on with our homegrown solutions. Now it is still time and money wasting, as the Kinyarwanda saying goes, ‘umwanzi iyo atakwishe aragukereza’.
I reviewed the law on migration; it turns out ‘international consultants’ are allowed three months non-renewable visas. Now I have no problems with foreigners working in Rwanda even permanently, it is the most basic thing to do. However, they must compete and be paid at the same footing as Rwandans.
President Kagame recently remarked: ‘I may soon be a political consultant’, referring to ‘those who’ve been criticizing our politics for the past twenty years are the ones now facing deep political crisis, they should ask for our help’
He couldn’t be more spot on: We must theorize Rwanda’s ‘Dialogue and Consensus’ as the most effective government system of the twenty first century; because it is! I used to think it is effective only in developing countries, but I just realized all humans have the same demons, and this is the best cure!
I will end this blog with extracts from President Kagame’s speech at Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia: ‘You have as much stake in this world of ours as anyone.’ So ‘Take your seat, Africa’s seat at the high table…’ and ‘In every situation strive to bring people together never to divide them.’
Before we claim a seat at a global high table, lets start by sitting at the high table in our own house, because I have the same dream as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, that ‘one day this nation [of Rwanda] will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed’!
To the government of Rwanda: Job offers with a racist undertone should be banned by the law;
To NGOs: When your donors say they want to build you capacity, tell them to give you the building and keep the capacity to themselves;
To Donors: Your money is doing more harm than good: Stop Racism!
To Africans: Take your seat at the high table!