Congolese sensation Koffi Olomide once sung: ‘Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, vérité eye na éscalier pe ekomi’. (The lie comes in an elevator but the truth takes the stairs and reaches its destination).
Attending with three senior ministers; Learned-Friend Busingye Johnston, Professor Shyaka Anasthase and General Patrick Nyamvumba, for another set of preposterous Uganda-Rwanda peace talks, the Rwandan delegation wrong-footed their counterparts by appointing the young Secretary of State as head of
Minister Olivier Nduhungirehe is young, witty and brilliant; an amateur of Rwanda’s ‘Rugondihene’, an ancestral martial art of intellectual
The aging Ugandan delegation made the deadly mistake of taking him for a rookie. To prep before the meeting, they should have viewed You-tube videos of younger Nduhungirehe in New York, when Rwanda briefly chaired the UN Security Council; the brother was ‘floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee’. To stay in the boxing analogy, none of the Ugandans in the room can box in Nduhungirehe’s weight category. The young Secretary of State could have handled the room on his own, as his seniors quicked back to watch the slaughter with entertainment.
In the room too was General Patrick Nyamvumba: Uganda’s nightmare! He was seated facing traumatized Ugandan Army men, probably still on PTSD medication for the defeats suffered on the Kisangani battlefield. Their commanders, Kahinda Otafire and late Kazini were even taken hostage by forces commanded by the Rwandan general, then released to Uganda on humanitarian grounds. Afande Nyamvumba was in the room only to remind Ugandans that peace with Rwanda was in fact in their best interests.
As Hawthorn once said: ‘No one can hold a face to oneself and another to the multitude without ultimately getting bewildered as to which one is true.’ As I always tell my clients when they ask if we’ll win a court case: ‘Are we telling the truth? If the answer is yes, then we have nothing to fear’. While the young Secretary of State was good, he was merely telling the truth, which bears its own witness and left no room to Ugandans to spin.
While politics and diplomacy are supposed to be noble professions to foster society and friendship, Ugandans have perverted them into art of deception. Their ruling class lives in an alternative reality, releasing daily lies in small doses to the people and all laughing about it, with nothing but contempt for the Ugandan people they lead. The people do not trust them, they do not trust the people and both sides are locked in a state of mutual sophistry, counting days for when they will leave power and set them free.
Being their neighbors and natural counterparts we Rwandans are subjected to the same frustrating treatment. You can’t agree with a Ugandan politician to do something and expect it done the next day. But as the Kinyarwanda saying goes; ‘Uwububa
When the crisis started Rwanda chose to put an embargo on Ugandan goods.
- ‘Rwandans will starve to death. All the food they eat comes from Uganda. ’ -Ugandans said.
This statement is only possible in Uganda. When someone has money, they eat in the restaurant of their choice and there are 194 countries to order from. But Ugandan politicians made their people believe – or not – that somehow Rwandans eat only one dish. Six months into the embargo and Uganda was applying for a quick loan from the IMF to placate the financial impact of the Rwandan blockade. At the same time, Rwanda was paying multiple million Euros to the French football team Paris Saint Germain to brand their female team and stadium ‘Parc des princes’ with the now global brand: ‘Visit Rwanda’ – as the Rwandan saying goes: ‘Uwapfuye yarihuse…’ (may we live interesting times)
And indeed after the unsuccessful meeting, Ugandans wanted to dish out another lie; a joint communiqué pretending that all went well. Minister Nduhungirehe was amazed:
- I cannot lie to the Rwandan people, he told them. Do your own Communiqué, in Luganda if you wish. I will do mine and tell the truth that we have not reached an agreement: That you have failed to give us guarantees that you will get rid of anti-Rwanda militia organizing in your country;
- you have failed to guarantee that you will set free thousands of innocent Rwandans that you have been detaining without charges;
- You have failed to promise that you will stop torturing Rwandan people traveling and living in Uganda.
Congolese are used to arresting FDLR terrorists en-route from meeting Ugandan leaders to plot attacks on Rwanda. Their army (FRDC) frequently kills or arrests operatives trained and armed by Uganda. Angolans, having chaired the first summit on Rwanda and Uganda are being introduced to their duplicity. In other words, Uganda was on its own in the meeting, cornered, shocked on home turf. Its typically half-asleep delegation
Exhausted, the Angolan Minister of Foreign Affairs shared with Ugandans the story of warlord Jonas Savimbi and his defunct militia UNITA, referring to Kayumba Nyamwasa and his RNC. He said Savimbi had a rear base in Zaire, being harbored by late Zairian president Mobutu. But after Mobutu was toppled – by Rwandans, Savimbi and his UNITA didn’t last long. ‘We have had seventeen years of peace since’ – he said, and to conclude with a warning to Ugandans: ‘If you do not want to solve a small problem of Kayumba Nyamwasa, you might end up dealing with a much bigger problem.’
Next time Ugandans should not accept for witnesses to be in the room as they are being intellectually humiliated.