Will anyone battle these little village gods? Anyone at all?

I’m sorely tempted to write about the arrival (finally) deported linguist, Leon Mugesera. I was avidly observing his legal gymnastics in the Canadian court system and, truth be told, I was kind of impressed by his sheer refusal to face the music. Here was man who simply refused to take “no” for an answer. His stubbornness in the face of overwhelming odds are lessons to us all; ‘don’t rest until you get what you want’. Of course, we should cleave too closely to his moral beliefs though. After all, this was a man who thought that it was smart to attempt to make long distance swimmers of a huge part of this country’s population. I mean, didn’t he know that the vast majority of us will drown in a kiddy pool, never mind the mighty Nyabarongo River? Throw in the fact that it would have been physically impossible to swim all the way to Ethiopia, even if you were the long child of US Olympic legend Micheal Phelps and South African Penny Heynes, and you have a man who was ripe for the looney bin. All I can say to him, as he contemplates the four walls of his holding cell is this, “thank whatever god you pray to that Rwandans aren’t as mean and vindictive as you were to them. Plus, this you can look at this return, forced or not, in a positive way; at least you won’t have to suffer the truly awful Canadian winters you’ve inflicted on your tired, old body. Our sunshine will surely warm your heart and tan your skin.

So, that’s enough about Mugesera. In the grand scheme of things, his return doesn’t really change much for a muturage (villager) in Kirehe District. But when ‘little god’ (local authority leader) refuses to execute a court decision granting or returning land to a small landowner, it becomes a life changing event.

Reading the Sunday Times, I learnt that residents of Nyarubuye Sector, Kayonza District voiced their frustration to the Eastern Province Governor Odette Uwamariya over the refusal of local leaders to execute court rulings, especially when it comes to land disputes. As I read the article, bile rising in my throat, I was taken a few years back when, as a law student at the National University of Rwanda, I dealt with village issues during Clinique Juridique.

This ‘Clinique’ or legal clinic helped us budding lawyers deal with real issues instead of fictional ones, while it helped baturage, unable to pay for legal advice, to pick the brains of the next generation of Rwandan legal eagles. I remember a case that absolutely drove me insane.

An elderly widow went to court to force an unruly neighbor off her property. The fellow, with a smile and wink from some little god, loped off a piece of the old woman’s land and started cultivating crops on it, all the while cutting and selling off the trees on her land. Because she had supporting documents and plenty of witnesses she easily won the case. The judges ruled that she was well within her rights to demand her land back, with damages as well.

When the poor woman went back to her village, which was quite a distance from the district court, she was astonished to find that the local leaders, who actually act as court bailiffs, refused to act on the decision. No matter what she did, she was frustrated at every turn and, finally at the end of her tether, she walked for over ten hours to Butare town where we were holding the legal clinic. It was up to the good people of the Faculty of Law to give the old lady some justice. Me ,in particular. As she told me her story I could barely believe what she was telling me was true. After I ascertained that she was being truthful, the Faculty penned a letter to the offending local leader, demanding that he do his job, and sent her on her way. A week later, she was back. The local leader told her, and I remember what he said word for word, that “only President Kagame could make me do anything. What will the University do”? What hurt me the most was that he was right. No one was going to spend precious fuel driving to Nyaruguru to solve a little, old woman’s problem.

I don’t have solutions to this issue, and honestly it isnt my job. Someone better though. Land issues can actually lead to conflict, something we’ve honestly had too much of.

Everyone can live the Rwandan Dream

I’m sure that you have all heard the phrase ‘Living the American Dream’; one owns a business, has a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, a station wagon, a wife, a couple of kids and enough money to have a yearly family holiday. Sure, not everyone gets to live that dream (the global financial crisis was sparked off by the subprime mortgage bubble where banks lent money to anyone who wanted to buy a house, even when they had no income at all), but there are enough examples of people living that dream in the United States to feel that it is possible.

The American Dream is awesome; but I’m not American and I don’t want to live over there. I’m perfectly happy to enjoy the warm sunshine and ochre dust of Rwanda. So, I must build my dream over here. But before I built a dream, I had to figure out what that dream actually was.

I will be honest with you all and admit that I’d not really been thinking too much about where I would be in the next five or ten years. I guess it’s because I graduated from university only a few years ago and I still felt ‘young’. It’s a rare kind of person who leaves university, gets his/her first job and immediately starts saving and planning and I’m not that breed of human being. After almost three years in the work environment all I can call my assets is the furniture in my rented apartment and an old vehicle that is liable to break down at any time. Not really impressive I know.

I would have felt a lot more embarrassed if I felt like a pariah for living life from paycheck to paycheck. But when I look around me, to people my age, all I see is people living their lives exactly like me. We barely have an asset of note and we spend the majority of our pay living the average yuppie existence- eating at fancy eateries, bowling at Mamba Club, buying fancy Blackberries and IPads. But no more I say. I have seen the light.

I owe it all to a friend of mine, who after a seven year engagement, finally decided to pop the question. He’s now getting married at the end of the year. After slapping him on the back in congratulation, I pulled him aside and asked how he would be able to afford not just a wedding, which friends and family contributes to, but married life. He told me that he had been saving almost half his salary for years.  I was amazed and a bit ashamed as well. I felt rather sheepish and unserious, especially when I thought about my parched savings account.

Reading this paper a few days ago, I believe it was the Monday issue, I learnt that the Social Security Fund was planning to build affordable houses for middle-income and upper middle-income people.  I was excited by the news. That is, until I realized that I wasn’t in a position to buy a house, or even a tiny apartment in Batsinda.

It was quite a slap in the face, the realization that my future was uncertain because of my own financial irresponsibility. Would my future spouse and I live in a rented house? How would I be able to afford to build a home if I had children’s’ expenses to take care of? Unless a bag of cash fell out of the sky and landed on my head, I would die a property-less pauper. I must say, I find this fate unacceptable.

So, yesterday, I went to the Bank of Kigali headquarters and talked to the good people working in the mortgage department. They were extremely helpful and they advised me on how I could afford a decent house in three years. I was pleased to find out that while it would be a bit of a financial squeeze, it wouldn’t be the death of me. And honestly, the sacrifice will be worth it. If I can do it, I’m sure almost anyone can. I suggest you talk to your banker, they are sure to have products that can help you reach your dreams. Let us not wait until we are on the wrong side of forty before we knuckle down. There is no day like today to start realizing your own ‘Rwandan Dream’.

The UN should make up its freakin mind

Leon Mugesera, of “chop their heads off before they chop of yours” fame is still refusing to face the judicial music here in Rwanda. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/quebec-court-gives-rwandan-man-one-week-reprieve-from-deportation/article2300166/, http://www.thestar.com/article/1114566–leon-mugesera-wins-reprieve-to-avoid-deportation-to-rwanda.

What is really suprising to me is that it’s a UN agency, the Office of the United Nations High Commsioner for Human Rights-Committee Against Torture, that is attempting to halt the deportation. Despite the fact that the ICTR, which is a UN international court ruled, that genocide suspect Pastor John Uwinkindi could be transferred to Rwanda. http://www.hirondellenews.com/content/view/15093/1208, http://jurist.org/paperchase/2011/06/ictr-transfers-case-of-former-pastor-to-rwanda-court.php.

So, on one hand, a UN court has ruled that Rwanda isnt a cesspit full of torture chambers, while on the other hand another one wants to investigate whether Mugesera will be tortured in this very ‘cesspit’. This is all very confusing. No wonder many in the American political establishment think that the UN is a joke. Because it really is.

Just how bad was this Leon Mugesera fellow?

The man has been asked to leave the great state of Canada, and trust me, he will. He can appeal to the Heavenly Father himself but this Stephen Harper administration simply doesn’t give a damn. I expect him to be thrown on a plane not later than Friday. Despite what the damn UN thinks. http://www.thestar.com/article/1113903–leon-mugesera-s-deportation-to-rwanda-might-be-stalled-by-un, http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/01/11/uns-torture-fears-delay-rwandans-deportation/

I just found out that he actually fled Rwanda after the then Minister of Justice Stanislas Mbonampeka, issued a warrant for his arrest. Even the genocidal regime of Juvenal Habyarimana thought “hold on, this fellow is a bit too genocidal…even for us”. When the Devil thinks even you are too sinful, you REALLY need Jesus.

Rudasingwa and the RNC/FDU-Inkingi cabal have been hit with a legal tsunami

It’s a beautiful thing to see rumor-mongering, blatant liars getting cream pies smack in the face . Lots of people have reacted to the Trevidic Report already . If you haven’t I suggest that you look at these links.

  1. Rwanda: at last we know the truth, Linda Melvern, The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/10/rwanda-at-last-we-know-truth. She  is an investigative journalist and author. She is also an honorary professor at the department of international politics, University of Wales, Aberystwyth. She has published several books on the subject, including A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide (2000) and Conspiracy to Murder: The Rwanda Genocide (2004)
  2. 2.       Rwanda genocide: Kagame ‘cleared of Habyarimana crash’, BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16472013
  3. 3.       The missile was fired from Kanombe: Game, set and match, Sunny Ntayombya, The New Times http://www.newtimes.co.rw/index.php?issue=14867&article=48963
  4. FDU-INKINGI and Rwanda National Congress Press Release, http://rwandarwiza.unblog.fr/2012/01/11/fdu-inkingi-and-rwanda-national-congress-press-release/
  5. 5.       RESPONDING TO THE FRENCH JUDGE MARC TREVIDIC’S TECHNICAL REPORT, Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa, http://rwandarwiza.unblog.fr/2012/01/10/responding-to-the-french-judge-marc-trevidic%E2%80%99s-technical-report/

When I look at these articles, I’m left bemused by the utter hard-headedness of our opposition leaders. They danced about when the Bruguiere Report came out and now they can’t let Kigali do the same. Kenny Rogers once sang “you gotta know when to hold them, who when to fold them …know when to walk away, know when to run “. Fold them and run dear chaps.

The missile was fired from Kanombe: Game, set and match

There is an English saying that I absolutely love, ‘he who laughs last, laughs best. Well, I’m laughing all the way to the bank, figuratively of course. There is another saying that comes straight from the Good Book, ‘the truth will set you free’. I never thought that I would look at France and say “merci beaucoup”, but I think that French judge Mark Trevidic is totally deserving of my thanks. Not because of his investigation but because his report is the final chapter of the murder mystery ‘who killed former president Juvenal Habyarimana’?

I won’t lie and say that I’m a totally impartial observer. I totally believed my government when they told me that the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA) didn’t shoot down the plane. I didn’t make sense to me why the organisation would do so especially when it had received almost every concession it demanded from the MRND government of Habyarimana. And it didn’t make sense to me how members of the 600-strong special forces, holed up in the CND building (the present day Lower Chamber and Senate), could have sneaked across Kigali lugging a surface to air missile (SAM) without being detected by the paranoid army, gendarmerie and militia. Throw in the fact that journalists on the bloodthirsty Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines foretold that “something” would happen to the former President and that roadblocks were mounted moments after the downing of the plane, and one would think this was an open and shut case.

I thought so until all sorts of wild allegations started flying about; none were more damaging than the Bruguiere Report, which accused the RPA of shooting the plane down by launching the SAM from Masaka Hill, and the so-called ‘confessions’ of Theogene Rudasingwa, who told all and sundry that the President personally told him that the RPA shot down the plane. The lies that these two individuals spouted were damaging simply because they formed a narrative that was simply incomprehensible and in my humble opinion, downright evil.

These men and their lackeys wanted the world to believe that RPA caused the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. In their warped logic, since the downing of the plane ignited the Genocide, whoever brought it down was therefore guilty of causing the Genocide. Never mind that lists of victims were compiled, arms stockpiled and machetes imported from Egypt months in advance. In these simpletons’ heads, the plane crash caused the Genocide. And by trying to blame the RPA of starting the Genocide, they attempted to remove the RPF’s major achievement; its liberation of the country from the hordes of murderous killers. They’ve failed miserably I can happily state.

What pleases me the most is that the Trevidic Report is extremely similar to the Mutsinzi Report, the investigation commissioned by the Rwandan Government a few years ago. What does it say? It says that the missiles were fired from the heavily guarded Kanombe Barracks. It proves to me, the humble taxpayer, that my leaders aren’t a bunch of liars and that my faith in them isnt misplaced.

I would hate to be an Erlinder, a Rudasingwa and an Agathe Habyarimana right now. This Report must be extremely painful reading. Not only because it exonerates the present Rwandan leadership, but it now points a finger at those we always suspected, the Akazu and Network Zero, the cabal surrounding Mrs. Habyarimana.

I’m an avid user of Twitter and I must admit that I ‘follow’ a few unsavory chaps. On the days preceding the release of this document, they were crowing about this being the final nail in the Kigali regimes coffin and tweeting gleefully. Well, the joke is on them. They aren’t so loud now and I have to wonder how they will spin this. In fact, their silence is quite deafening. I can’t wait to see where the chips finally fall. Oh happy day!

2012 has started with good news, may it continue thus

I usually gauge a New Year by this measurement: by how interesting the first week is. And looking into my crystal ball, this year promises to be a very interesting one. I awoke on the first day of the year to the sight of my neighbor’s gate totally obliterated by an obviously tipsy driver, who had rammed his car into it. The sight of the bemused residents, driver and traffic police put a huge smile on my face. And then the two Manchester football teams lost to ‘small’ teams, it was a real comedy of errors. And the best part of the week was learning that the Canadian government was going to deport Leon Mugesera on the 12th of this month. If you don’t know him, let me quote him. “Finish the cockroaches and send them back to Abyssinia where they came from”. And addressing militia, he said “if you don’t cut off their necks, they will cut yours”.

He was an interesting fellow this ‘Mugesera’ guy, he did his best to stir up the masses to commit genocide but didn’t have the stomach to follow his nefarious plan to its bitter end although radio stations rebroadcast his ‘sermons’ at the height of the 1994 carnage. He skipped out of the country in 1992 and settled in Quebec, and became a permanent Canadian resident the next year. He barely had time to enjoy the trappings of a North American before he found himself in hot legal water; two tapes of the incendiary speeches surfaced and the Government of Rwanda issued a warrant for his arrest.

The fellow has tried everything, from claiming that the warrants were simply issues because he was a sworn enemy of the Rwandan government (which I guess would be the truth; this government doesn’t like genocidaires) to then pleading with the Canadian government to try him instead of sending him to face justice in Kigali. I have a few issues with the Canadian government; from their stance on the Kyoto Protocol on climate change to their political class’s issues with my country. But I’m pleased that Ottawa has finally grown some cojones. I actually expected that the Mugesera issue would get bogged down in the Canadian legal system and then disappear without a trace. So I’m surprised.

However, I’m still disappointed that he’s been deported and not extradited. The Canadians aren’t saying that Mugesera is a genocidal criminal but rather that he lied on his immigration papers. They are equating him to someone else who lied about their legal history (whether they’ve ever been imprisoned before or not, for example). And that is truly unfortunate and rather cowardly as well.

Ottawa should have stuck its neck out and extradited him to Rwanda instead of merely deporting him. That way, it would have sent a signal to the entire world that it won’t give war criminals and genocidaires asylum.  Deporting him merely simply says that he’s a liar. Simple as that.

On another topic, I’m also extremely pleased that the automobile garages that soiled the waters of the Nyabarongo wetland are being moved from Gatsata. Honestly, I can’t figure out why it took so long to get that done; I can only imagine all the environmental damage that the oil, battery acid and lubricants have caused. Sadly, there are way too many garages and heavy industry in this wetland and Kigali City Council (KCC) isnt moving them out fast enough. I know noise pollution is a ‘big’ issue in KCC, they almost caused a demonstration when they decreed that there would be no partying after midnight on New Year’s Eve (they hastily changed their minds). But I think that the damage to the Nyabarongo wetland is a bigger issue. It’s unfortunate that they haven’t tackled it with as much zeal as they’ve mustered while closing down night spots.