"the Napoleon of Africa"


"the personification of hope after horror"

Rwandan president is welcome here
Montreal Gazette, Apr 7, 2006

Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda, will visit Montreal on April 25 and 26 to take part in a conference on development and education in Africa. Improbably, a group of Canadians of African origin is demanding that Canada refuse a visa to Kagame. It's an idea without merit. Canada should in fact welcome Kagame.

It's no coincidence that the Canadian Council on Africa, which is organizing the conference, has named Kagame guest of honour and invited him to give the keynote address. Kagame has become, for many in his own country and across the region, the personification of hope after horror.

Twelve years ago this month, when Rwanda's Hutu majority erupted into genocidal frenzy, Kofi Annan and others saw to it that the United Nations looked the other way. Canadian General (now Senator) Romeo Dallaire, leading a UN force, was in essence forbidden to do anything to impede the growing and obvious menace of mass slaughter.

It was left to Kagame and his guerrilla movement to sweep across the country that spring and finally make the slaughter cease. (The movie version of Gil Courtemanche's evocative novel about that nightmare time, Un dimanche a Kigali, comes out next month.)

In July 1994, Kagame became vice-president in a national-unity government in which the Hutu Pasteur Bizimungu was named president. Kagame took the top job himself in 2000. Despite the mental scars that mark all of Rwanda's survivors, Hutu and Tutsi alike, the society is in large measure functioning again, and Kagame deserves much of the credit.

It is absurd that Canada, home of Romeo Dallaire, should keep Kagame out. The complaints against him come from a Belgian academic and from some Canadians from the region, who call him "the Hitler of Africa." This is a distortion of his long-standing label, "the Napoleon of Africa," widely used because of his military leadership skills.

The complaints are that Kagame did not always respect human rights in Rwanda, and during a Rwandan military incursion into the so-called Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1996-97. The claims are, on the available evidence and when properly understood in context, simply ludicrous. When Hutu genocidaires took refuge across the border in the lawless and largely ungoverned Congo, where they operated essentially as criminal gangs, Rwandan troops hunted them out. It was frontier justice perhaps, but clearly preferable to no justice at all.

Nobody who took part in years of guerrilla operations, as Kagame did in Uganda and then Rwanda, will have perfectly clean hands. Alexandra Fuller's memoir Scribbling the Cat, though set in a different part of Africa, sums up with heart-wrenching clarity the utter moral horror and ethical collapse that can come with civil war.

So nobody pretends Kagame has never done anything wrong. But in the context of the last 15 years in Africa's great lakes region, Kagame is manifestly the kind of leader Canadians should welcome, should listen to, and should find ways to help.




Rwanda's President visiting Canada (star attraction at conference for Education & Economic Development) & Canadian univeristy assissting Rwanda (in public health & hospitals). EmbassyNews/UWO News, Apr 19, 2006

Rwanda wounds reopened in Canada. Epoch Times, Apr 13, 2006
The association Page Rwanda, which represents Rwandan diaspora in Canada, blamed the Canadian justice system last week for not following through with its decision to deport Mugesera, who has been found guilty of inciting the 1994 genocide in a fiery speech. Page Rwanda vice president Paulin Nteziryayo denounces Mugesera's continued presence despite a nine-month-old Supreme Court ruling to deport him to Rwanda....Mugesera used every means possible to stay in Canada, and in September 2003, federal justice Robert Décary overturned the deportation order....The appeals continued, however, until the Supreme Court upheld the deportation order on Jun. 28, 2005, and concluded that Mugesera had indeed incited his fellow Hutus to violence

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

email: orwelltoday@gmail.com
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