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Rwandans and Congolese should be allies, not enemies

September 24, 2012

by Eric Kamba

Protesters from Rwanda, Congo and Burundi denounce Gen. Paul Kagame outside the Boston hotel where he spoke to celebrate Rwanda Day, which writer Eric Kamba calls “a public relations fest for the repressive, criminal regime.”
As African people and neighbors who are still struggling to recover from the ravages of colonialism, Rwandans and Congolese should be allies in lifting all of their people from poverty to decent living standards, literacy and dignity. It’s time for dialogue between Rwandan and Congolese people of like mind to finally end the 16-year war between our two armies and their various ancillary or surrogate militias. The vast majority of both of our people need democracy, political space, economic opportunity and a common share in their countries’ resource wealth.

This year’s Rwanda Day, a public relations fest for the repressive, criminal regime of Gen. Paul Kagame, was thrown in Boston, Massachusetts, at the Westin Copley Place Hotel, from Sept. 21 to 22, 2012. When Gen. Kagame appeared at 3 p.m. to make his usual speech about economic growth and development, protestors from Rwanda, Congo and Burundi awaited him on the streets outside the hotel to remind him that his economic “development” has not benefited the majority of Rwandans – or the Congolese affected by his invasions of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I attended the demonstration and was pleased to meet not only Congolese but also Rwandan and Burundian people who all want to see Gen. Kagame’s military dictatorship come to an end and see peace in the region.

Kagame’s regime is all about image and perception by his Western friends. While he travels the world in private jets, lives in luxury at the finest hotels, and draws a salary more than twice that of the Russian president and more than that of the UK prime minister, 70 percent of the Rwandan population live in extreme poverty.

Rwanda’s imprisoned opposition leaders Victoire Ingabire, Déogratias Mushayidi and Bernard Ntaganda have been nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize.

Kagame assassinates or imprisons any real critics or challengers to his regime. On Sept. 12, three of the country’s imprisoned opposition leaders, Victoire Ingabire, Déogratias Mushayidi and Bernard Ntaganda, were nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, which was created in 1988 to honor individuals or organizations who have dedicated their lives to the defense of human rights and freedom of thought.

People inside Rwanda are continuously harassed by government, and prominent Kagame opponents have been assassinated in Kenya, South Africa, Congo and Tanzania. In May 2011, the London Metropolitan Police warned Rwandan citizens that they believed Rwandan nationals had entered the country intending to kill them.

“I hope that the next generation of Rwandan and Congolese children will walk arm in arm to improve their lives and those of all African people.” – Eric Kamba
Fourteen years of U.N. reports have documented Gen. Kagame and his army and allies’ invasions and plunder of Rwanda’s neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The most recently pubished U.N. report accused Rwanda of being the power behind the M23 rebel group that this year renewed the war in Congo’s eastern provinces, which has already cost over 6 million lives.

Can Gen. Kagame sustain the so-called “development” that he so endlessly drones on about without making war in Congo and plundering its resources?

I don’t believe so. But I do believe that Rwandans and Congolese can unite, as neighbors and as African people, to end the war and the repressive regimes waging it.

Eric Kamba is an activist and a social worker with the Boston-based Congolese Development Center. He says he cannot safely return to his home in the Democratic Republic of Congo so long as Joseph Kabila remains in power. Eric can be reached at ekamba@aol.com.

 

12 thoughts on “Rwandans and Congolese should be allies, not enemies

  1. Michael

    Mr. Eric Kamba, this is a very unfair critism against President Kagame based on speculation and not fact. First of all, Rwanda though much smaller than DRC, it has its own minerals from which it earns around 200 million USD but minerals are not even the biggest sector for Rwanda. Tourism, Coffeee and tea exports bring in more money for Rwanda than the minerals. The development in Rwanda is simply due to good policies that attract investments, a good business climate, peace and security. If minerals can really develop a country, how come DRC is not developed when it has had these minerals since time imemorial? President Kagame has been a player in the region for only less than two decades and he cannot be the problem for DRC which has been independent for fifty years.

    Reply
  2. Eric

    Mr Michael , thank you for your opinion. We need this kind of exchange between us.
    1) I never said that Rwanda does not have resources. The system for plundering Congo was described in detail in the U.N. Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2001 [3], 2002 [4], 2003 [5] and 2008 [6]
    2) you would agree with me that human right is still a big problem. We can disagree without being disagreeable or get killed
    3) We are not enemies . Let's be together.
    Eric

    Reply
  3. Ingamakungisa

    Mobutu was not strong by himself & so Kagame does n't have one minute 2fight with the DRC army wtht being supported by the western& the u.s.a. Anyway his time is comng.

    Reply
  4. Jean Pierre Papin

    Mr. writer
    I've got 3 questions for you:
    Where do you get the stats about 70% of rwandan population being in extreme poverty?
    Which court of law has found Kagame guilty of assassinating rwandan opposition figures?
    What was the population of Kivu prior to the 1996 war that toppled Mobotu?

    Reply
  5. Jean Pierre Papin

    For god's sake, can you at least make an effort and pretend to be a serious reporter or columnist by reporting facts. This article is nothing but emotion-filled bar talk.
    Just as an FYI, the EDPRS report pointed to the fact that rwandan population still languishing in poverty was actually reduced from 56% to 45% thus lifting 1 million people out of poverty in the space of 5yrs (2006-2011). Speaking of the 6 million people dead, do you realize that the population of the 2 Kivus prior to 1996 was 7 million people, are you then suggesting that close to 90% of the Kivu population have perished in the last 16 years? Speaking of the polically-motivated assassinations, what facts do you have to accuse Kagame of that charge? Has any court of law in the world found him guilty of that? C'mon brother, you're smarter than this garbage. Just reminding you that ONE IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY and unfortunately that presumption of innocence is being denied to Kagame by people like you.

    Reply
  6. Jean Pierre Papin

    As for the congolese and rwandan people being allies, that's actually the IDEAL, and it has always been like that, at least, as far as we (Rwandans) are concerned, the question is, do congolease people want us to be their allies? I think that can only be answered by you guys (congolese people) given the fact that your people are nowadays engaging in attacking vulnerable rwandan youth in several western capitals with no justifable reason. A bon entendeur salut!

    Reply
  7. Jamaal

    Congratulations Mr Kamba for the less than 10 people that showed up and most of them Congolese. It must have been a pleasant surprise to see a Burundian in the crowd, but 4000 people turning up to support what you call a “criminal” moreover in one of the world’s democracies must have been a kick in the teeth.
    Despite all the recycled rhetoric about human rights, these people and the friends of Rwanda still came out in their droves at their free will. To simply show you that you’re wasting theirs and your time and that they are 100% behind what you call economic development.
    They see it more than that. They see it as their duty to tell their own story, not to be left to some Congo man “I say this with due respect” or any other person to do it for them otherwise they’ll fiddle with facts as we’ve witnessed in your article.
    Otherwise when PK travels the World and China decides in the process to remove all taxes on exports from Rwanda and gives it $25 million in Grants and non-Interest loans when aid to Rwanda has been cut thanks to DRC, this shouldn’t be a concern for you to return home.
    Your issue is a weak president and that’s what you ought to be primarily addressing here and once you have a charismatic leader, who knows! Congo mind end up being the most contented country in the world after all, like Rwanda. Then you can return home or you can actually go home now and not wait until such a time when Congo is a paradise because that’s a long way off in the future.
    I wish you all the best for you and your Country, but a great man once said in Boston: "If you are looking for a perfect nation don't come to Rwanda. We are not a perfect nation. In any case, which nation is perfect? If you want to help us with our imperfections, you are welcome but the problem with some of these people is that they get their imperfections and try to export them to us.

    Reply
  8. Eric

    Hi Jamaal:
    Just like on August 63 when Dr Martin Luther King called for racial equality and an end to discrimination in his speech ("I Have a Dream")
    “I do hope that the next generation of Rwandan and Congolese children will walk arm in arm to improve their lives and those of all African people.” – Eric Kamba

    Reply
  9. Roula

    The fact is Kagame is days are numbered just like Mobutu. We all know what Kagame is doing and the blood of his assailants disturbing God for justice. I was shocked to read the report of Hillary Clinton urging both leaders Kabila and Kagame to find solution to the problem facing the people in the Eastern Congo. The UN report is clear, Kagame's administration is behind the killing of our people. As soon as Kagame stops his support to his M23 the so called fight will also end. Therefore, I am asking Hillary Clinton to urge their adoptive son Kagame to leave our people, please. Security will take place in Eastern of Congo when your adoptive son will stop the stealing of our resources by killing innocent people.

    Reply

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