Rwanda Day: Black faces of empire

by Ann Garrison

KPFA Evening News, Sept. 20, 2014

“In this case African governments have a few million ripped from the hide of their suffering people to spend on PR, you know. And the Black political class wants a cut of that.” – Bruce Dixon

Transcript

KPFA Evening News Anchor Cameron Jones: The City of Atlanta hosted the fourth international Rwanda Day today, at the Georgia International Convention Center. Rwanda Day celebrations were held in Chicago in 2011, Boston and London in 2012, and Toronto in 2013.

Bruce Dixon
Bruce Dixon

Rwandan and Congolese exiles and refugees have appeared to protest each time, as they did again today. Rwanda’s sizable public relations apparatus bills Rwanda Day as a celebration of Rwandan culture and recovery from the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and a chance to invest in Rwanda, which means, in large part, investing in Rwanda’s illegal trade in the resource riches of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Bruce Dixon, Atlanta resident and managing editor of the Black Agenda Report, attended the protest and produced a flyer stating that “Rwanda’s Paul Kagame did NOT end a genocide in 1994. He brought the genocide with him and then brought it to Congo.” KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke with Bruce Dixon.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Bruce, I know that Atlanta has one of the highest concentrations of both Black Americans and Black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean and that today’s protest was organized by both Friends of the Congo and The Committee for the Unity of Black Immigrants and Americans. Could you talk about how you discussed this with these various African communities who might not know the recent history of Rwanda.

Bruce Dixon: Somebody needs to explain to folks what’s going on when you’ve got a thing here from the government of Rwanda, and why should we be suspicious when the Black Caucus or the mayor opens his doors and invites African dignitaries in – and with supposedly representatives of the do-gooder organizations here in the United States there at the same table.

What’s really happening here? Is it sweetness and light and acknowledgement of our African heritage? Is that what’s going on? Or is there something sinister going on? And how do we explain that? So, this has been an interesting series of lessons and I’m going to try to address some of that in the piece that I’m doing.

Bruce Dixon, Atlanta resident and managing editor of the Black Agenda Report, attended the protest and produced a flyer stating that “Rwanda’s Paul Kagame did NOT end a genocide in 1994. He brought the genocide with him and then brought it to Congo.”

What are the ties here between our Black political class and the representatives of African states who are here? And what do those ties mean? In this case, African governments have a few million ripped from the hide of their suffering people to spend in PR, you know. And the Black political class wants a cut of that. They want to do that.

And then of course you’ve got the examples of people like Jendayi Fraser and Susan Rice and that whole core. And I’ve never heard Susan Rice speak to Black people, but I do know that some of the people in academia who are here at Georgia State University and Emory, they’ll go around and mumble words about Pan Africanism, while they try to get a contract with the DRC government or the Kenyan or Ugandan or Rwandan government.

Sign held aloft outside Rwanda Day in London, 2012
Sign held aloft outside Rwanda Day in London, 2012

And then they’ll turn around to Black Americans and the Africans and mumble some BLEEP! about Pan-Africanism and the good of the motherland and how they’re serving all this kind of bull-BLEEP!

KPFA: They’re trying to get PR contracts?

Bruce Dixon: Yeah, yeah, yeah, they’re trying to get PR contracts.

KPFA: What about the need to put Black faces on corporate resource interests in Africa?

Bruce Dixon: These are multinational companies here that are doing business. When the affirmative action thing was up before Congress and Republicans were marshaling their forces against it, then what happened was the Pentagon came forward and lots of Fortune 500 corporations came forward.

And the Pentagon says: “Wait, wait, wait, wait, we need high ranking, well-educated, accomplished Blacks and Latinos to front for what we’re doing here, for our long term plans. We can’t be an all-white military and carry on what we’ve got to carry on in Africa.”

And the companies said: “Wait, wait, wait, wait, there’s emerging markets here that we want to control and African and Latin American and Asian governments that we’ve got to deal with. We can’t look like we’re all white. We can’t do that. We’ve got to have Black faces. And it’s important to our long term survival and viability.”

This is an empire, you know. This is an empire, and the empire needs Black faces representing it.

KPFA: And that was Bruce Dixon, managing editor of the Black Agenda Report. His essay on Rwanda Day in Atlanta will appear later this week in the Black Agenda Report. The flyer he created for the event is included in “Kagame started the genocide in Rwanda, then Congo,” a statement signed by Rwandans and Congolese in Africa, Europe, and the U.S. and published on the website of the San Francisco Bay View, sfbayview.com.

For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison contributes to the San Francisco Bay View, Counterpunch, Global Research, Colored Opinions, Black Agenda Report and Black Star News and produces radio news and features for Pacifica’s WBAI-NYC, KPFA-Berkeley and her own YouTube Channel. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com. If you want to see Ann Garrison’s independent reporting continue, please contribute on her website, anngarrison.com, where this story first appeared.