Social media is an unedifying place, where out of the blue, someone can authoritatively assert the sky to be green and the grass blue, and he or she can be assured there will be many who will support that assertion with apparent conviction. Occasionally however, as in the exchanges that followed the claim that Rwandan society is “programmed,” a voice of reason can make itself heard above the cacophony.
It all began with a visitor of Nigerian origin to East Africa, in itself a tantalising prospect of what could be a clash of cultures. But what clash, you might say, it is after all, an African in Africa.
If you think that, you are in large company, and like the rest of the company you keep, you have also internalised the ridiculously absurd notion, that Africa is a homogeneous entity. Never mind that even within one country, you can find numerous cultures. Multiply that more than fifty times, and you may begin to have a glimpe into Africa’s diversity.
Not, one suspects, something that crossed our visitor, whom we shall henceforth refer to as “Uncle_Koke”, after his Twitter, now X handle. To his credit, Uncle Koke, is happy to identify himself with his own image. “I visited Uganda Rwanda and Kenya as a Nigerian” he informs us, “and I can tell u for free, Kenya was the most developed and more prosperous and fun to be country with beautiful people…”
It is not clear what significance Uncle Koke, attaches to visiting as a Nigerian or whether indeed he could have visited as some other nationality, but chose to do so, as “as a Nigerian.”
Either way, he goes on to tell us that “Rwanda was very clean but the society looks like a programmed society people don’t really do much, evereyone looks scared of something that I don’t really know, but it seems like everyone is just too careful of something, but is a beautiful country with beautiful people especially their women…”
We should take a moment to apologise to any of you, dear readers, whose comprehension is in any way affected by questionable grammar and punctuation. Uncle Koke, seems to have little regard for such niceties.
He certainly had little time for Uganda, which he relates, “is like hell on earth, very dusty and too many bikes, I didn’t see any luxurious car on the road in Uganda, people look very poor and street kids begging. If I am to return to East Africa again I will visit Rwanda and Kenya but will never want to visit Uganda.” And with that Uncle Koke signed off.
No sooner had he posted his observations, than Rwandans suddenly seemed to lose their fright, in defence of their country.
What is to become of Rwandans on Twitter (RwoT), now that the application has been obliged to call itself X, is a story for another time. For now, they, the RwoT, fall in several categories, and to which category an account belongs, can usually be gleaned from their posts.
The majority, whether in Rwanda itself or in the Diaspora, are not only inordinately proud of their nation, but have a deep affection for it. They are acutely aware of the great cost that many have paid, to deliver Rwanda, Rwandans, from the grip of what was a genocidal death cult, that germinated from the Belgian colonial seed, implanted in some Rwandans’ minds.
There is a poignancy to their patriotic fervour. Rwanda for them is a living, breathing entity. They cleave to their nation as one cleaves to a loved one, who was all but lost, and is now returned to them. They jump to the defence of their country with a clear understanding of someone who knows and feels the pain of loss, but that rationality is infused with a primal instinct to preserve life itself.
Rwanda’s detractors, especially the Western self appointed “experts,” will have the world believe that these “keyboard warriors” are paid “stooges” paid by Rwandan intelligence.
The truth is that these supposed stooges, would pay to be allowed to fight for their country, on or off the keyboard. They are not idle cybersurfers, they have a mission, nation building, and woe betide anyone who so much as looks askance at their country.
Ranged against them are their compatriots, who are driven by a visceral hate, fired up by the fact that in spite of the depths of their depravity, the Rwanda they would have destroyed thrives. Each achievement is like fuel poured onto the hate raging in their bellies.
Most of these, like the notorious Jambo Asbl group in Belgium, are in the Diaspora. Few of them were alive or were in their infancy, at the time of what their forebears intended to be the “final solution of the Tutsi problem”, the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi.
They have however, chosen to make the crimes of their fathers and mothers their own. They consciously drink from the well of hatred for their compatriots, a hatred they know does not flinch at wholesale torture and murder of men, women and children.
Rather than stand with those of their compatriots who are the intended victims, and declare, not in my name, they instead opt to deny the Genocide Against Tutsi, standing with their forebears, the planners and perpetrators of mass murder. They have dedicated themselves to preserving the legacy of their parents, and keep the tree of genocide ideology watered.
Now, with children of their own, they pass on the seed of hatred to them. Most are aware of the evil they have chosen, and wrap it in acceptable slogans, like “human rights activist”, “Democracy advocate.” Some however are more naked about it.
They will twist the truth to feed the hatred, and proudly brandish their preposterous claims on social media at every waking hour. Like one Nadine Kasinge, who has announced herself as a presidential candidate for Rwanda. Records show, unequivocally, that her father was murdered by the Interahamwe militia, leaving her to be rescued by the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), yet, she is now a constant presence on social media, proudly boasting of teaching her teenage daughter, that the RPF murdered her parents. The transmission of hatred.
If Rwanda shows anything, it is that almost no one is beyond redemption. But for these young Rwandans, who choose the path of hatred, the way back may be too stiff a climb. For they either must have the so called Hutupower, or the annihilation of Rwanda. This is of course, no choice at all, for HutuPower would be the annihilation of Rwanda.
Between these two outlooks, are what we may call the self styled illuminati. They consider themselves possessed of an understanding that is beyond their compatriots, whom they see as less enlightened. They oppose the RPF led nation building, to show that they know best, although judging from their stance, their knowing best is often little more than a hodgepodge of incoherent utterances, which are always confidently posted on social media, and whose only objective is that they are to be against the RPF led government. Ironically it is this group whose motivation is monetary gain.
They often cobble together what they see as opposition, to garner support from Western funders, or sufficient social media followership, which can then be monetised. A few however, are addicted to notoriety and need to be noticed. For them, attacking the government is the most nutricious food for their egos.
Uncle Koke too, seemed desperate to be noticed, bless him. He is in truth a poor traveller. He does not appear to have interacted with any Rwandans. He observed them from afar, and came to the conclusion that they looked “scared” and did not “do anything.” A strange people indeed, or a strange observation, depending on your outlook. Like so many Africans however, might Uncle Koke have decided to regurgitate the Western anti Rwanda narrative? Only he can tell us.
We turn however, to an account that calls itself Dr Dash. The whole Uncle Koke tale allowed Dr Dash, what is surely his finest moment. After taking the time to analyse not only Uncle Koke’s comments, but the reactions to it, Dr Dash, like a digital Solomon, delivered his words of wisdom, attacking none and counselling all.
His Twitter or X biography, reads like a warning to the unwary. “Rwanda comes first. I am not a lion nor aspire to be one, I am going to be who I am and will challenge any lion.”
“It is important that we do not allow anyone to spread lies or misrepresent Rwanda” he declares. “Le me start with facts: In a recent African Survey (he does not say which), it was found that 60% of Rwandans believe their country is heading in the right direction, while in Nigeria, 95% of young people aged between 18-25 feel their country is heading in the wrong direction.”
The analysis goes on to suggest what may have led Uncle Koke to imagine Rwanda a “programmed society.” Is it the discipline, the order, the cleanliness, with which Uncle Koke is unfamiliar, wonders Dr Dash. Then he goes on to explain that, “one thing everyone should know is that our [Rwanda] culture values are respect and consideration for others, which is why you will rarely see a Rwandan arguing with the police or disprecting older people. If this is what being programmed means, then I am proud to be part of it…” He goes on to describe a culture that is “warm” “vibrant” and welcoming.
He does not stop at the defence of Rwanda. He takes up Uganda’s cause. Few Ugandans had lept to their nation’s defence, among them, was an official in the country’s state house, Duncan Abigaba. Himself prone to uttering ill informed comments, he would have been best advised to have left the defence of his nation to Dr Dash, who did it more gracefully.
“Furthermore” continued Dr Dash, “it is important to address the mention of Uganda. Uganda is a beautiful country with wonderful people, I feel safe being in Uganda than in Nigeria! Each country has its own unique qualities and attractions that should be appreciated.”
He then turns to the Rwandans, who either out of hatred, or self publicity, applauded Uncle Koke’s comments. “It is disheartening to see some Rwandans joining in on the negativity and trolling their own country for personal gain or to support political opposition and raise the point that Rwanda is a dictatorship nation! They save their tweets and will show them to their funders to get more money to destabilise Rwanda” he alleges.
“Some of you will do anything for comments! But please think twice before writing anything to tweets that troll Rwanda” he pleads, “instead, let us stand united and show the world the truth about Rwanda…Our country is Democratic, and its people are free. We should not let anyone undermine our progress and achievements.”
“Every tweet or social media post has real life consequences” he warns, “it can shape perceptions and influence people’s decisions. Therefore, it is crucial to be mindful of what we say and how we represent our country. Let us always prioritise the truth and stand with Rwanda.”
In what what sounds like a heartfelt lament, Dr Dash regrets his delay in throwing himself into the fray about Uncle Koke’s comments.
“Yesterday was the first time I didn’t like my job! I saw this tweet and had zero time to respond, I was so surprised by some peole who basically will do anything for Twitter impressions! So disappointed with some of you.”
He then directly addressed his compatriots in their own language of Kinyarwanda. There are those about whom it is not surprising, he said, and to them, he said, “time will come, when those of you who are led by greed will rue your actions”, driving his point home with a Kinyarwanda proverb.” He signs off as he started, “Remember Rwanda comes first.”
And what of Uncle Koke? He seems to have been taken aback by the strength of feeling he had stirred, and offered an apology, albeit a somewhat stilted one.
“My earlier post about Rwanda being a programmed and scared society should be dismissed, I meant to say is a law abiding society, so that post should be diregarded. Rwanda remains one of my best and favourite country to visit. Clean streets and beautiful people with beautiful culture.”
He may be glad to know that the post was indeed dismissed, long before he issued his apology, although not in the way he might have wished. Luckily for him, Rwandans are a forgiving lot, and perhaps the episode will teach him to actually look at Rwanda through his own eyes, rather than through the prism of Western anti Rwanda narratives.