By David Himbara
Kagame regime ordered young Rwandans to swear to God they would return to Rwanda if allowed to represent Africa at a New York City festival. Nearly half deflected to the US.
It has now become routine. Whenever a group of Rwandans, whether as part of a sports team or cultural groups, travels outside General Paul Kagame’s Rwanda, a portion deflects — never to return. This just happened in an embarrassing episode.
On May 14th, the cultural group “Inganzo Ngari” departed Rwanda to New York to represent Africa at the 42nd session of Dance Africa Festival. The Dance Africa Festival was organized by the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Prior to their departure, the 20-member group was convened to a series of sessions of propaganda organized by the Rwandan Senate and the National Itorero Commission. Senator Tito Rutaremara and Edouard Bamporiki, the head of National Itorero Commission, were charged with brainwashing the New York-bound group into ”loving” Rwanda to which they would return as their patriotic duty.
The Rutaremara Bamporiki sessions consisted of making the dancers to swear with hand on the Bible or the Quran depending on faith. The group was ordered to swear their loyalty to Rwanda; they were also made to swear they would return to Rwanda after their performance in the United States. Each member of the group was ordered to sign a loyalty document that was sealed by the notary. One extra measure was taken once the group reached New York City — the performers’ passports were confiscated to ensure their return to Rwanda.
The Kagame regime’s draconian measures of intimidating the young performers into returning to Rwanda backfired
The attempts of intimidating the group into returning to Rwanda were not entirely successful. Of the 20 dancers that landed in New York City May 14, 2019, eight defected to the United States. Such an escape has become routine. Kagame’s Rwanda has become an open prison from which people try to escape by any means available. Rwanda now resembles the old Eastern Europe when it was still behind the ”iron curtain.” Like in those days gone by, escapees from Kagame’s Rwanda have various motives for attempting to flee. The vast majority have an essentially politico-economic motive — they wish to improve their living conditions and not live in fear of the totalitarian state that seeks to control all aspects of Rwandan life.