By David Himbara
When a ruler of a nation lies, the rest of his regime follows – and soon lying becomes a way of life. That how Rwanda became a lying nation. President Paul Kagame routinely lies and doubles down when caught. Perhaps the most embarrassing moment for the Rwandan dictator was in Dubai two years ago when asked why Rwanda does not manufacture anything, despite being touted as Africa’s economic success story. Kagame was caught off guard – and stammered something about Rwanda manufacturing computers, and that even the boxes in which computers are packaged read “Made in Rwanda.”
This culture of lying has cascaded downward into the whole system. And today I caught one such big lie from, of all places, Rwanda’s premiere knowledge centre – no less than the University of Rwanda (UR).
In an exclusive interview with The New Times, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research, Prof Nelson Ijumba, made the following claims, regarding the UR’s international rankings:
Since UR started, our publications have gone up, volume is not high but impact is high, we are now second to Makerere University in the East African Region. Our position in ranking is not bad, top 10 in East Africa, we are among the top 7 per cent in universities in Africa, worldwide about top 30 per cent but we would like to do better.
This is a disgrace – in a normal country, this senior official would be held accountable for such outrageous and deliberate deceitfulness. The New Times, too, is not bothered to challenge such bogus claims because the newspaper is part of Kagame’s lying machine. In reality, UR’s ranks 106th in Africa, and 3,557th in the world. In the East African region, not only does UR not feature among the main national universities such as Makerere University, University of Nairobi, and University of Dar Es Salaam, it is not even competitive among second-tier institutions such as Moi University in Kenya, or Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda.
Let us also not forget that the regime has financial difficulties to the extent that UR’s professors have not been receiving their salaries for the past five months. How can professors struggling to feed their families perform effectively – whether in researching and publishing, or teaching and supervising future scholars and subject experts? How can a university that does not fulfill its basic obligations achieve any significant ranking?
Kagame and Rwandan officials who lie about performance should know that there is no shortcut to success. Dictators world-over are in such a hurry to boast about achievements, and eagerly manipulate statistics or exaggerate the little they may have achieved. But there are no shortcuts to the development of a country or a university. The key to any long-term success is to take the necessary steps to steadily progress – as opposed to skipping any of the steps. In the case of UR, the Kagame regime must begin with paying teachers and staff their salaries. Lying about performance does not pay – sooner or later, the liar gets caught, as in this case with Prof Ijumba.