Letter from Rwanda
Murunganwa aka Himbara, you have disappointed your Rwandan readers with your silence on the recent tribute to our President, His Excellency Paul Kagame. The President was recognized as a skillful leader showing the world how to run a government as a successful private enterprise. The accolade to our head of state was delivered by the founder and president of IRCAD-France, Professor Jacques Marescaux, who was on a working visit to Rwanda with a team of French scientists. Our French visitors also likened President Kagame to Charles de Gaulle, the French statesman who liberated France from Nazi Germany. We have attached the links to documents and videos of the occasion in case you are not aware of it. Please, take time to do a deep analysis to enlighten us on the story behind the story.
Response to letter from Rwanda
Dear compatriots, in order to explain General Paul Kagame’s newly acquired titles from the French scientists, I must first provide a broad context of Kagame’s changing views on France’s Rwandan Civil War and the subsequent Genocide Against Tutsi. As we all know, Kagame maintained that France was part and parcel of both the war and genocide. He, however, made a U-turn in the period 2021 – 2023, buying into the big lie that France “was blind” to the genocide.
Perhaps, the most shocking moment for Rwandans, especially the genocide survivors, was during Macron’s visit to Rwanda in 2021. The French President would neither apologize nor accept his predecessors’ direct involvement in the genocide. France “was blind” to the genocide, said Macron. Kagame exuberantly declared that Macron “spoke the truth.”
So, what happened? How does one explain Kagame’s 180-degree turn on France’s role in the Civil War and the Genocide Against Tutsi? This was a case of outward-looking opportunism for a dictator facing a multitude of crises. Besides the shrinking foreign aid streams and COVID-19, Kagame had shot himself in the foot by locking up the Rwanda-Uganda border, a major international trade transit point to the Mombasa seaport for the Great Lakes Region. Kagame needed a new patron and fast.
Enter Macron, jetting to Rwanda with a planeload of donations of 117,600 doses of vaccine and promises of quadrupling foreign aid for the crisis-ridden aid-dependent regime. Coincidentally, Macron needed troops to secure France’s US$20 billion investment in Mozambique had been overrun by Islamic militias. Macron was, therefore, in no mood to beat around the bush, and so directly explained the reason for his visit to Rwanda. He went to Rwanda “to write a new page” as he put it, which meant that it was his way or the highway in narrating France’s legacies in Rwanda.
The flatteries of the French scientists that Kagame is Africa’s Charles de Gaulle is part of Macron’s new page. According to Macron’s new page, the French and Rwandans are development partners; they must work together assisted by France’s expertise and money. It may have taken the French elites a long time, but they finally discovered that prestige and money obliterated the 1994 genocide from Kagame’s memory.
How Kagame lost his memory of France’s involvement in Rwanda’s civil war and genocide
Kagame is a flip-flopper. A politician flip-flops when he makes a sudden reversal of policy for opportunistic reasons rather than genuine conviction. Kagame flip-flopped on France in 2021 when Macron dangled money and foreign aid in Kagame’s face. In exchange, the Rwandan ironman supplied troops to secure and protect the US$20 billion French investments in Mozambique. France’s aid to Rwanda skyrocketed to what President Macron called “unprecedented levels” of €500 million committed over the 2019 – 2023 period.
The French Development Agency (AFD) then flattered Kagame, declaring that he has built a strong and effective state with “a rapid decision-making process that requires a high degree of political and administrative discipline.” The French scientists who praised Kagame for building the world’s most effective state sang from the same hymn sheet of AFD.
The Kagame-praising by the French scientists took place in Kigali on October 7, 2023.
That is when the founder and the frontman of IRCAD-France, Professor Jacques Marescaux, described Kagame in glowing terms:
“The most illustrious French politician of the 20th century was undoubtedly général Charles André Gaulle, it can not be seriously disputed that Paul Kagame is the most illustrious African head of state. You are showing to the world that a government can act as a successful private company recruiting the best brains to your government ministries. Thanks to your vision, Rwanda is going to be the light of Africa in the field of computer science and education in surgery.”
Kagame was visibly impressed by the Professor’s flattery and the impressive headquarters of IRCAD-France’s venture in Africa. The Rwandan Ironman had after all poured US$26 million into the construction of the IRCAD’s Kigali headquarters. Kagame’s motivation was his fantasy of making Rwanda the African medical hub. Professor Marescaux explains how he joined forces with Kagame himself to set up IRCAD in Rwanda:
“Following an initial meeting in Strasbourg with the Rwandan ambassador to France, we established contact with President Kagame. The President quickly embraced the initiative…IRCAD-Africa serves as the central component of a broader initiative known as Kigali Health City…[that will] evolve into a regional hub.”
IRCAD is a replay of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)
Kagame enticed CMU to establish and operate in Rwanda as part of his grand plan of turning Kigali into an African knowledge hub. Similarly, it was the Kagame government that built the US$10 million CMU Kigali campus. Funds to finance CMU’s operations were to be generated from student fees; the government was to provide temporary financial support until fee revenues increased via expanded student enrollments. The students and fee revenues never materialized, however. The Auditor General revealed that this failure led to a large burden for Rwandan taxpayers:
“This resulted in government funding most operating expenses of CMU, with cost accumulating to USD 47.6 million as of 30 June 2017.”
One hopes that Kagame will not end up financing IRCAD’s operations in Rwanda as is the CMU case. For the time being the French governmentcommitted to subsidize the Kigali IRCAD with €200,000 for the first year.
How Kagame uses the Genocide Against the Tutsi for his crass political opportunism
From 1990 to 2021, Kagame had no doubt whatsoever that the French government sustained the regime of Juvenal Habyarimana in Rwanda’s 1990 – 1994 Civil War and its aftermath. Kagame himself describes how the French government threw him in jail in 1992 when he was invited to Paris to discuss how to end the war amicably:
“I was arrested; I spent the day in jail! During the night following the meeting, at 4 o’clock in the morning, at the Hilton Hotel where I was staying in Paris, hotel security and the police waltzed into our rooms with the master key, abruptly switching on the lights and waking me up. They had guns pointed at me and were shouting “get up! get up!” My security people, Emmanuel Ndahiro and Tom Byabagamba, were sleeping in adjoining rooms, and I was in my room. When I looked over at them, they were down on the floor, being handcuffed.”
Kagame reiterated his conviction that France was partly to blame for the slaughter over and over again. This is the language he employed in 2014 to decry France’s role in genocide:
“People cannot be bribed or forced into changing their history. And no country is powerful enough, even when they think that they are, to change the facts. After all, les faits sont têtus (facts are facts). Therefore, when we speak out about the roles and responsibilities of external actors and institutions, it is because genocide prevention demands historical clarity of all of us, not because we wish to shift blame onto others. And those others should have their moment to be humble in the face of historical facts.”
To establish the facts, Kagame set up two commissions of inquiry into France’s role in the genocide, a domestic one under the Mucyo Commission and an external one conducted by the law firm of Levy Firestone Muse LLP based in Washington, DC. The two investigations corroborated France’s direct involvement in the genocide. The Mucyo Commission concluded that France had trained the armed groups that carried out killings and that French troops had taken part in massacres. It accused 13 French politicians and 20 military officers by name.
The Levy Firestone Muse’s findings were identical to the Mucyo Commission’s conclusions.
The Levy Firestone Muse report describes the role of the French government led by François Mitterrand as follows:
“President François Mitterrand was chiefly responsible for the French government’s reckless enabling of the Rwandan government during the critical period of 1990 to 1994. He and his administration knew that the government in Rwanda was orchestrating, fomenting and exploiting violence against the Tutsi minority for its own ends….French military officers advised Rwandan military leaders and trained Rwandan soldiers. When, in 1994, the Genocide Against the Tutsi commenced, the French government continued its opposition to the RPF, the one force fighting to end the mass murder.”
Embarrassingly, just as the law firm of Levy Firestone Muse LLP was submitting its report, Kagame made a 180-degree turn. The Rwandan strongman fully accepted the new French government narrative that France “was blind” to the Genocide Against the Tutsi. His earlier rhetoric that Rwandans “cannot be bribed or forced into changing their history” and that no country “is powerful enough to change the facts” fell by the wayside. As the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers. When Macron dangled €500 million in Kagame’s face, he cheerfully accepted it and immediately lost his memory of the Genocide Against the Tutsi.
Kagame is a perfect Machiavellian who maintains power through fraud and treachery
In conclusion, Kagame’s U-turn and his dumping of all the documents he had accumulated in three decades incriminating French President Mitterand’s France is not difficult to comprehend. The Rwandan Ironman may or may not know Niccolò Machiavelli’s famous work but Kagame is a perfect Machiavellian. In his book, The Prince, Machiavelli argues that capturing and retaining power requires evil deeds, including fraud, manipulation, treachery, and elimination of political opponents. Kagame has added genocide to his weapons to retain power. He pins the label “genociders” onto the people or nations he wants to destroy. But he conveniently erases the label whenever he needs their money and foreign aid. To Kagame, yesteryear, France was a genocide financier. Today, France is a darling. There can be no doubt that this is the worst kind of political opportunism. Stay tuned.