The Cult of the Toothpick King: Central Africa Revisited

You [Roger Winter] also generously provided facilities for members of the RPF

in the United States to meet and disseminate much needed information.

(From: Citations to 2010 Medal Recipients, Rwanda New Times, July 05, 2010)

The word ‘notorious’ is neutral, though its interpretation is usually colored by the presumption of a pejorative connotationMichela Wrong, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, PublicAffairs, 2021: p. 77.When I worked in Kisangani (DRC) in 2004, I learned from an expat European how the RPA commandeered his big excavating and logging machines to disappear the bodies of thousands of innocent Hutu men, women and children slaughtered by the RPA and UPDF with cold, wicked, calculated, pathological cruelty. See, e.g.: Kisangani Diaries, a short film by Hubert Sauper.When British jurnalist Nik Jones reported the crematoriums, no one believed it: they still don’t.Michela Wrong, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, PublicAffairs, 2021: p. 57.In a 2007 interview conducted with your foreign correspondent, Paul Rusesabagina, the real life hero of the Hotel Rwanda story, described the regime of Paul Kagame as a “Grinding Machine”: “a machine grinding human beings.”Private communication, October 2021.Michela Wrong, In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu’s Congo, Harper Perennial, 2002.This is a reference to the BBC documentary “Rwanda’s Untold Story,” broadcast 1 October 2014, a documentary based on multiple individuals’ persistent reportage, including my own, contrarian to the falsification of consciousness inculcated through the mainstream establishment narrative.Veteran journalist Stephen Kinzer authored the pathologically problematic hagiography of Paul Kagame titled: A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It.The Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) is the armed wing of the Ugandan forces comprised mostly of Tutsis who invaded Rwanda in October 1990 and fought the civil war to seize power absolutely in July 1994. The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) is the name of the political wing of the RPA. The two names are often loosely interchanged with no loss of meaning or accuracy.Your humble correspondent counts himself amongst them, though he also counts himself Survivor-in-Recovery of the Cult of Elitist Camps of High-Minded Moral Judgers-in-Chief of Events and History in Central Africa.Afrika spelled with a ‘K’: According to the Afrikan-American poet and writer Haki Madhubuti in his From Plan to Planet (1973), there are basically four reasons to spell Afrika with a ‘K’. Please see: Keith Harmon Snow, “Tutsi Hegemony: Genocide in Rwanda” (part II), garrison: The Journal of History and Deep Politics, Issue 002, July/August 2019: sidebar.Joshua Hammer, “He Was the Hero of ‘Hotel Rwanda.’ Now He’s Accused of Terrorism.” New York Times Magazine, March 2, 2021. See, e.g., the letter from Professor Brian Endless—who was one of the many sources misquoted in the story—to the editors of the New York Times Magazine.For those who seek hard proof, it is easy to demonstrate the extreme bias of Tom Ndahiro, who cherry-picks his sources and facts, lacing his scholarship with demagoguery. See, for example, Ndahiro’s selective and miscontextualized presentation of a letter written 25 January 1960 by Bishop Bigirumwami in Ndahiro’s chapter contribution “The Church’s Bling Eye to Genocide in Rwanda,” in Genocide in Rwanda: Complicity of the Churches? (Rittner, Roth & Whitworth eds., Aegis Trust, 2004, p. 229). Ndahiro presents Bigirumwami as a voice of reason speaking out against hate, which is always attributed to Hutus. (Ndahiro’s further attention to Bigirumwami is so distorted as to be too insufferable to unpack). The true ideological and political position of Bishop Bigirumwami, in its proper historical and political context, is properly situated and detailed in Ian Linden’s important work Church and Revolution in Rwanda which, of course, Ndahiro never mentions. Indeed, Bishop Aloys Bigirumwami, Linden informs, was born into the Gisaka royal lineage, and his name meant “‘All things belong to the mwami’ a prudent choice by the Gisaka Royal line.” He was, in fact, an adherent of the aristocratic Tutsi supremacy. In the tumultuous period of Rwanda’s independence struggle, Bishop Bigirumwami leaned into a conservative monarchist position, vacillating in his support of the Tutsi Union Nationale Rwandais (UNAR) nationalists, the political backbone of the Tutsi aristocracy’s guerrilla terrorist Inyenzi insurgency, but eventually swung fully into the conservative Tutsi nationalist (UNAR) camp. Ian Linden, Church and Revolution in Rwanda, Manchester University Press, 1977: pages 153, 244 n. 89, 269.It’s also easy to excavate Tom Ndahiro’s vitriolic disingenuous name-calling ad hominem attacks, on-line, published against the regime’s perceived enemies, including your humble correspondent. See, e.g. Tom Ndahiro, “Keith Harmon Snow, A Prototype Virulent Tutsi and Jews Hater who Inspired BBC’s Untold Story,” umuvugizi, 24 October 2014.Michela Wrong, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, PublicAffairs, 2021.Michela Wrong, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, PublicAffairs, 2021: 436.If the reader is unfamiliar, this is a satire of the ‘devastating phrase’ Q. And babies? A. And babies’ that appeared 1970, printed in red over an original photograph of the 1968 Mai Lai massacre taken at the scene by army photographer Ron Haeberle. The phrase ​came from a news interview with soldier Paul Meadlo, who had participated in the slaughter. Designed by artist-activists Irving Petlin, Jon Hendricks, and Frazer Dougherty, the offset lithograph poster is currently part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.RPA General James Kabarebe is pivotal to the perpetual plunder, extortion, human trafficking, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in eastern Congo. At one point Kabarebe was one of the primary agents overseeing the RPA’s infamous ‘Congo Desk’ and he was named in the United Nations’ Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, S/2001/357, 12 April 2001.Author of King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, Houghton Mifflin, 1998.This is the ‘spirit’ elucidated by David Foster Wallace in his “Tense Present,” Harper’s Magazine, April 2001.Howard W. French, “The Dark Underside of Rwanda’s Model Public Image,” New York Times, March 30, 2021.Let it be known that your humble correspondent once many years ago interviewed Howard W. French and—fair or unfair—has been less than humble in his critiques of Mr. French’s reportage.ilip Reyntjens, The RPF did it. A fresh look at the 1994 plane attack that ignited genocide in Rwanda, Working Paper, ISSN 2294-8643, May 2020.See chapter seven, ‘Where Peacocks Roam,’ in Howard W. French, A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa, Vintage, 2005.That is a rhetorical question that I could but won’t be answering here.The decolonization of the Western Mind is no trifle: off with our heads.Lawrence ‘Larry’ Devlin definitively was a spook. See, e.g., Michela Wrong, In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu’s Congo, Harper Perennial, 2002; Lawrence Devlin, Chief of Station, Congo: Fighting the Cold War in a Hot Zone, PublicAffairs, 2008; and, especially, David N. Gibbs, The Political Economy of Third World Intervention, University of Chicago Press, 1991.Howard W. French, “The Dark Underside of Rwanda’s Model Public Image,” New York Times, March 30, 2021.Paul Rusesabagina & Tom Zoellner, An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography, Penguin, 2007.Joshua Hammer, “I’ve Lost Nearly Everyone,” Newsweek, April 24, 1994; and: Joshua Hammer, “The Killing Fields,” Newsweek, 22 May 1994.The italics were inserted by your humble correspondent. Please note that Joshua Hammer bracketed kidnapped in quotes, which is by itself a red flag on Hammer’s veracity: he diminished and dismissed the kidnapping, which has been justified by the principle mala captus bene detentus (wrongfully caught, legally detained), but which brings into disrepute the administration of justice, encourages lawlessness, violates state sovereignty, disregards international human rights law, and undermines the international extradition network.One of the most entrenched and cultist Camps in the Genocide wars has its genesis in the Rwanda reportage of Philip Gourevitch, a regular columnist for the New Yorker magazine since 1995, and a close confidante of Paul Kagame who also had rather intriguing insider connections to the administration of William Jefferson Clinton and whose expositions on Rwanda—the latest of which appeared 14 April 2014—eventually came under rather sharp criticism even by some of the former adherents of Gourevitchism.Brian Endless goes on: “According to Quora and many other sources: the word ‘hack’ refers to someone who is disreputable, unreliable, or mediocre; it can also refer to a partisan who only cares about their group or their political party.”See: letter to the New York Times from Brian Endless, who is one of many sources quoted out of context in Hammer’s article.Judi Rever, “An intimate, one-sided view of Paul Kagame’s Rwanda in a journal of record,” Judi Rever website, 10 March 2021.Michela Wrong, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, PublicAffairs, 2021: p. 437.Joshua Hammer, “The Epic Hunt for One of the World’s Most Wanted Men,” GQ, 19 January 2021.Judi Rever, In Praise of Blood: The Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, Random House Canada, 2018.See: Keith Harmon Snow: “Genocide in Rwanda” (part I), garrison: The Journal of History and Deep Politics, Issue 001, April/May 2019; “Tutsi Hegemony: Genocide in Rwanda” (part II), garrison: The Journal of History and Deep Politics, Issue 002, July/August 2019; and “Rwanda’s Technicians of Death: Genocide in Rwanda” (part III), garrison: The Journal of History and Deep Politics, Issue 003, October/November 2019.“Rwanda’s Rusesabagina is Guilty as Charged—Analyst,” Africanews with AFP, September 2021:Michela Wrong, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, PublicAffairs, 2021: 250.Michela Wrong, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, PublicAffairs, 2021: 6-7.Helen Epstein and Claude Gatebuke, “The Roots of Rwanda’s Genocide,” The New York Review of Books, June 10, 2021.Not to be confused with snooty (see fn. 63 below.Personal communication with the author, July 2021.Phew! Barely escaped that one: I began writing about RPA atrocities against Hutus almost 20 years ago.Helen Epstein and Claude Gatebuke, “The Roots of Rwanda’s Genocide,” New York Review of Books, 10 June 2021: p. 37.Phil Clark, “The Two Rwandas: Development and Dissent Under Kagame,” Foreign Affairs, May/June 2021.Your humble correspondent’s prejudices due to his personal encounters with Phil Clark, in courts of law where we appeared as expert witnesses on opposing sides, over-ride all pretense of honoring the democratic premise elucidated above.Edward W. Said, Orientalism, Vintage, 1979.See, e.g., the extensive back and forth between Phil Clark and Dr. Susan Thomson, here.Dr. Amos Wilson, The Falsification of Afrikan Consciousness, Afrikan World Infosystems, July 1993.See: Jacques Ellul, Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, 1963.To wit: Row 2, Cols. Ia & IIa; Row 4; Row 5; excluding the Diatomic and Polyatomic non-metals, the Noble gases and most of the s-block elements.The actinides comprise Row 6, Column IIIa of the Periodic Table; more precisely, Googled: “any of the series of fifteen metallic elements from actinium (atomic number 89) to lawrencium (atomic number 103) in the periodic table. They are all radioactive, the heavier members being extremely unstable and not of natural occurrence.”E.g.: Praseodymium and terbium and dysprosium and most all of the lantinoids of Row 5, Column IIIa of the Periodic Table; more precisely, Wikipedia’d: The lanthanide or lanthanoid series of chemical elements comprises the 15 metallic chemical elements with atomic numbers 57–71, from lanthanum through lutetium. These elements, along with the chemically similar elements scandium and yttrium, are often collectively known as the rare-earth elements.Elon Musk has had a lot to say about how the raw materials for his Tesla production lines—extracted from Congo—come from ‘clean’ and unbloodied and conflict-free sources. It’s all rubbish.Crystal Ventures is the current name of the Sogo Shosha-size holding company set up and run by Patrick Karegeya, Paul Kagame, James Kabarebe, and other Rwandan Patriotic Army commanders who ran the shadow organization behind the public façade of government in Rwanda and the legendary ‘Congo Desk’ in eastern Congo. The company was set up in 1995 under the name Tri-Star Investments, but was rebranded in 2009 after being named in connection with diverse crimes (e.g. racketeering, forced labor, extortion, abductions, & etc.) in the United Nations’ Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, S/2001/357, 12 April 2001: paragraphs 82 & 86.Kagame was most trusted of all by supreme commander Yoweri Museveni during the ‘bush war’ in Uganda precisely because of his perverse talents at spying and reporting on comrade soldiers of the National Resistance Army.International Court of Justice, Audiencia Nacionale, Madrid, Spain. On 6 February 2008, Andreu Merelles, Investigative Judge of the Spanish Audiencia Nacional, issued a 180-page indictment, charging 40 current or former high-ranking Rwandan military officials of the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) and allied military groups with many crimes including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and terrorism.A.k.a., Jack Nicholson, the horror, the horror, in The Shining.Michela Wrong, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, PublicAffairs, 2021: p. 389.Michela Wrong, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, PublicAffairs, 2021: p. 264.Personal communication, 21 June 2021.Private communicate, June 2021.As with RPA and RPF, the terms ‘National Resistance Army’ (NRA) and ‘National Resistance Movement’ (NRM)—the army’s political wing—are interchangeably used herein.The term ‘Banyarwanda’ is itself a floating nebulous term depending on the area that is being written about or discussed (e.g. eastern Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania or Burundi) and the author or speaker’s understanding or definition (and hence, usage) of the term. E.g. Banyarwanda in Uganda included former Rwandan’s who identified as Hutu and those who identified as Tutsi.The decolonization of the mind is not an easy process, but rather a slow, churning, disorienting process where two steps forward are followed by three steps backward; where some overall forward progression is only achieved by the lucky, persistent, self-critical ones who are devoted to truth; with a high rate of recidivism for all; and failure for the majority, leading these to a state of apathy, indifference, denial, and sometimes a violent and active resistance to the truth.What a courageous public admission, and unprecedented in the annals of the mainstream media.See: Keith Harmon Snow, “Special Report: Exposing U.S. Agents of Low Intensity Warfare in Africa: The ‘Policy Wonks’ behind Covert Warfare and Humanitarian Fascism,” Dissident Voice, 9 September 2012.A noted Rwanda expert, Alison Des Forges served as a USAID consultant and researcher for Human Rights Watch. While it is true that Des Forges eventually fell out of favor with the Kagame regime, this does not negate her earlier role as an RPA propagandist.See: Keith Harmon Snow, “Special Report: Exposing U.S. Agents of Low Intensity Warfare in Africa: The ‘Policy Wonks’ behind Covert Warfare and Humanitarian Fascism,” Dissident Voice, 9 September 2012; and Remingius Kintu, The Truth Behind the Rwanda Tragedy, a paper presented as part of personal testimony at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, Arusha, Tanzania, date unknown.Michela Wrong, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, PublicAffairs, 2021: p. 350.Rebecca Washington, “Special Report: The Wonks who Sold Washington on South Sudan,” Reuters, 11 July 2012.See, e.g.: Remingius Kintu, The Truth Behind the Rwanda Tragedy, a paper presented as part of personal testimony at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, Arusha, Tanzania, date unknown.Helen Epstein, who claims a friendship with William Pike, wrote a brief, ambivalent book review of Combatants, wherein she challenges Pike’s accounting of the war, his whitewashing of NRA crimes and blaming everything on Obote and others, providing an important though subdued critique. Helen Epstein, “The Elephant Culture”, New York Review of Books, June 2019.William Pike, Combatants: A Memoir of the Bush War and the Press in Uganda, self-published, 2019.Catherine Watson, Exile from Rwanda: Background to an Invasion, Issue Paper, U.S. Committee for Refugees, 1991.On the NRA and RPA commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide: [1] the military tactics of the NRA qualify on at least the first two counts; [2] from November 1989 to June 1990, Major Paul Kagame was head of the NRA’s Directorate of Military Intelligence; [3] the October 1990 invasion of Rwanda by Ugandan troops—read: ‘RPA rebels’—was a supreme violation of state sovereignty in contravention of international law; [4] the RPA invasion and occupation of northern Rwanda involved atrocities targeting the Hutu people precisely because they were Hutus.See the abbreviated discussion of Inyenzi: Michela Wrong, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, PublicAffairs, 2021: p. 119.Mahmood Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda, Princeton University Press, 2001.Michela Wrong recounts the transformation of the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s intellectual insider Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa from soldier of misfortune to Born Again Christian.Private communication with the author, 17 October 2021.Even Rwanda and Burundi (1972), the seminal work of Rene Lemarchand—another of the world’s premier Central Afrika experts—suffers from of an overly distorted hyperinflated Tutsis-as-Victims bias.See, e.g.: Helen C. Epstein, Another Fine Mess: America, Uganda, and the War on Terror, Columbia Global Reports, 2017.See, e.g.: Wayne Madsen, Genocide and Covert Relations in Africa, 1993-1999, Edwin Mellen Press, 1999, and the general Central Africa reportage by Keith Harmon Snow.Michela Wrong, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, PublicAffairs, 2021: p. 29.E.g.: Canadian journalist Judi Rever, and U.S. journalists Ann Garrison and Jennifer Fierberg.Brigadier General Frank Rusagara, Rwanda Defense Forces (formerly RPA), quoted in Major Robert Beeland Rehder Jr., From Guerrillas to Peacekeepers: the Evolution of the Rwanda Defense Forces, Master of Military Studies, United States Marine Corps, Command and Staff College, April 15, 2008.Michela Wrong, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, PublicAffairs, 2021: p. 290, para. 5.The post The Cult of the Toothpick King: Central Africa Revisited first appeared on Dissident Voice.

2021-11-09 | Book Review | English |