Bishop Mbanda: “So! What?”

Bishop Mbanda applauds Paul Kagame.
Bishop Mbanda applauds Paul Kagame.

In July, I published a brief post showing current Rwandan Anglican Bishop Laurent Mbanda appearing onstage with Rwanda’s dictator, Paul Kagame, and applauding him.1 Bishop Mbanda apparently saw this post, and in a confusing turn of events, commented about it over on my old blog. His response was:

Yes I did. So! What?

This kind of response is astonishing and callous in its utter lack of Biblical awareness about how Christians are to respond to evil. I would say that it is a perfect illustration of the complacency and outright cooperation of the current Rwandan House of Bishops with a dictator who kills, murders and plunders innocents.

Although Bishop Mbanda’s support for Paul Kagame is fairly low-profile, it is there if you start digging. A great example is found in reading his book, which I reviewed at length here. As recently as 2013, Bishop Mbanda referred to Rwanda’s leadership (i.e. Kagame) as “visionary.”

American Anglicans should not be aligned with the Rwandan State, but they are through their own ignorance and apathy.

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  1. Much as he did at the notorious Prayer Breakfast where Kagame boasted about killing Patrick Karegeya.  

Bosco Ntaganda’s connection to John Rucyahana

Bosco “The Terminator” Ntaganda

Rwandan-backed warlord Bosco Ntaganda began his trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague for war crimes today. You can listen to an overview of Ntaganda here or watch a brief video about him here.

I would like to remind folks that Anglican Bishop John Rucyahana supported this murderer and his faction as was documented in several highly-sourced reports; see my post about it here. The key takeaway from that post is that I was told by a confidential source that  Rucyahana’s own driver assisted Bosco Ntaganda to escape to the American embassy, proving how closely aligned the Bishop is to this monster.

My former pastor used to say, “If these things are true, they are a scandal in the Church!” Well, they are true, they are a scandal, and the Church (PEARUSA and ACNA) does not care.

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Here is an excerpt from that previous post on how Rucyahana fits in:

Rucyahana’s Bagogwe Connection

Where does Bishop John Rucyahana fit into this picture? In 2012, the UN said that Rucyahana was the “president of the Bagogwe community”:
John Rucyahana has been the head of the Anglican Church at Ruhengeri, president of the Bagogwe community from Rwanda, and President of the Rwandan National Unity and Reconciliation Commission.
Details about this role in the Bagogwe community are lacking, but Rucyahana’s fundraising and recruiting efforts for M23 were clearly in support of the Ntaganda faction, as subsequent evidence makes clear.
In late 2012, Rwanda decided that Bosco Ntaganda was unreliable and decided to eliminate his faction of M23 in favor of a faction led by Sultani Makenga:
…Rwandan officials who had previously supported Ntaganda, and who could no longer control his network in Rwanda or his actions in the DRC, decided to sideline him from M23 and to dismantle his support in Rwanda. In late December 2012, Rwandan authorities arrested RDF Col. Jomba Gakumba, due to his close ties with Ntaganda, according to former RDF officers and an M23 collaborator. A former Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) member, two former RDF officers and a politician loyal to Ntaganda, told the Group that Bishop John Rucyahana, a Ntaganda ally in Rwanda who recruited politicians and raised funds for M23, had to stop his collaboration (emphasis added). The Group has sought clarification from the Government of Rwanda on the matter and is awaiting a response.
A “civil war” of sorts broke out between the two factions within M23, with Bosco’s faction losing badly because Rwanda was determined to eliminate him. Anyone who helped him was arrested:
…on 10 March 2013, Rwandan authorities arrested Gafishi Semikore and Theo Bitwayiki, while they attempted to help Ntaganda from Rwanda by supplying him with small quantities of ammunition, food and medical supplies during the hostilities between the two factions in Kibumba.
With Rwanda hunting him, Bosco Ntaganda had to flee for his life. How he was able to do so is laid out for us by the UN and sources such as this:
Hailing from Northwestern Rwanda and from the reclusive Tutsi Bagogwe’s ethnics, generally hostile to the current Rwandan  government dominated by Tutsis from Uganda and Burundi, General Ntaganda could rely on a network of incorruptible clansmen. So he was moving from relative to relative, avoiding highly circulated areas and moving in trucks carrying staples to the capital city Kigali. While the DMI killing squad was looking for him in Gisenyi, the volcanoes and Masisi, he had already crossed Kinigi on his way to Kigali.
He reached Kigali late at night on Sunday, where a trusted relative was waiting for him. Early morning, the relative dropped him off close to the US Embassy (emphasis added), to where he walked in and asked for being sent to the International Criminal Court.
The UN’s account of Bosco’s flight says:
On 15 March 2013, Ntaganda clandestinely crossed the border into Rwanda using a small path in the Gasizi area, with one escort…he reached Kigali with the help of his family, and arrived at the United States embassy on 18 March where he requested to be transferred to the ICC, without the prior knowledge of Rwandan authorities. Subsequently, Rwandan authorities arrested an individual suspected of having aided Ntaganda’s escape, and interrogated Ntaganda’s wife and brother.
According to confidential sources, the situation of bishops Rucyahana and Kolini is bad because since (a) the escape of Bosco Ntaganda into the American embassy in Rwanda and (b) intense external pressure to end support for M23, Paul Kagame has abandoned the bishops. A sign of this abandonment is his open admission that churches support M23 as a Tutsi self-protection campaign. A source says that Bishop Rucyahana cannot travel outside Rwanda on orders of the Government (or without its explicit permission); and that in fact Rucyahana’s own driver assisted Bosco Ntaganda to escape to the American embassy. If true, this means that Rucyahana’s driver is or was a relative of Bosco’s all along.
In short, Rucyahana (a) had a driver related to Bosco Ntaganda, (b) was the President of the Bagogwe community in Rwanda, and (c) was sidelined when Bosco’s support network was eliminated as part of the M23 civil war.
The civil war between Bosco’s faction and the Makenga faction may have hurt Bagogwe support for M23, since many native sons of the Bagogwe were betrayed by Paul Kagame. The UN says:
The Group notes that M23 recruitment in Rwanda has decreased since the dismantling of Ntaganda’s recruitment network; community leaders in northern Rwanda who supported Ntaganda have ceased collaborating with the M23. […]
Demobilized Rwandan soldiers have been killed on M23 frontlines in the DRC. The Group obtained the identities and addresses of seven families residing in the northern Rwandan villages of Bigogwe and Mukamira, whose sons fought in the ranks of M23 as demobilized soldiers and died during the fighting between Makenga and Ntaganda.
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Robotic Replacement Workers

Citi’s Tobias Levkovich writes about the rise of robotic workers in fast food and other service industries:

But, policy reactions to any change tend to be somewhat populist and politically expedient, especially since louder, strident and often extreme voices are heard over the apathy of the silent majority. For example, lifting the minimum wage, which affects a small proportion of the working population, while well intentioned, may perversely hasten the introduction of robots into fast food restaurants and these machines never need a bathroom break. While most of us consider robots to be more of a factory phenomenon and industrial robot sales have been on a steady ascent (depicted in Figure 3), the broadening out of their uses due to further advances in sensors and monitoring systems, suggests that factors like artificial intelligence could make their adoption expand into many other areas.

New machines are being used at various companies to move product in warehouses to the shipping docks. Supermarkets are testing machines that arrange products on shelves (one already can do self-checkout and payment) and various companies are studying self-driving vehicles.

In this context, less skilled employment may be at risk. But, before getting too comfortable about one’s own skillset being above average given a good education, it is interesting that machines can read MRIs and can replace radiologists. They can review legal contracts and only flag anomalies, replacing numerous young lawyers who might actually be relieved to not have to go over such tedious documents, but their futures get muddied by the development too. Even these arguably highly skilled workers may find themselves on unemployment lines.

In this sense, technology which has been growing as a percent of GDP (see Figure 4) could have a downside for workers even as keeping labor compensation down may be good for corporates trying to maintain earnings.In the past, cheaper prices meant more consumption but people ultimately need to have jobs to generate the income with which to spend. Furthermore, governments need tax revenues from that income to sustain their fiscal programs.

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The speed at which technology is adopted means that there is less time to retrain workers for the new environment and, given an aging workforce, some may opt for early retirement though few seem to have much in terms of savings to do so. In conjunction, entitlement programs may be seeing a surge of demand and the traditional opportunities for new immigrants who do not speak English well may find the jobs they would have taken in the past (like cab driver or gardener) being replaced with robots.

Although, migrant agricultural workers probably are protected for now since fruit picking machines have had a tendency to crush the produce and such systems have been tried unsuccessfully in vineyards already but one cannot rule out engineering advances that get the machines up to par. The aspect of artificial intelligence which is pattern recognition and then reaction also might alter the dynamic in a way which is unforeseen at the moment.

… we are wary about the worker displacement effects and political pressures that may ensue from the rallying unemployed who want quick solutions. We fear that governments will look towards convenient and expedient responses rather than thoughtful and longer term ones that have greater chances of success. As a result, policy makers could end up causing more disruption and that is a somewhat unpredictable risk to our longer term bull thesis.

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Thoughts on Utah

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From Sir Richard Burtons “The City of the Saints”

I recently spent two weeks in Utah, near Salt Lake City. This gave me the opportunity to travel around the metropolitan area and soak in a bit of the local culture. Utah is of course heavily LDS (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). This colors all aspects of the state, and it is unlike anywhere else that I am aware of in the United States.

The mountains that hem in the Salt Lake metro area add a Biblical feeling to it. The geography seems similar to Israel or the Sinai peninsula.

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Near Provo.

I imagine that these geographical features make stories from the Bible and the Book of Mormon feel more real to a Latter-Day Saint. The mountains immediately called to mind the famous painting by Friberg of Alma baptizing in the Waters of Mormon (minus the palm trees).

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Friberg’s painting of Alma baptizing.

The mountains aren’t the only feature of Utah that can make it feel like a Promised Land theme park; there are also the two large lakes, Utah Lake and the Great Salt Lake, which mirror the Dead Sea.

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Utah Lake.

The feeling that struck me in Utah was how comforting the cultural conformity there must be to believing Mormons. Utah is akin to Saudi Arabia for Muslims, or perhaps how Puritan colonial cities may have felt to Protestants, or maybe how Europe felt during Christendom. There are ten temples along the Wasatch front alone, something you will not find anywhere else in the LDS world! I am not exaggerating when I say that there seems to be an LDS meetinghouse (their church building) on every other corner or less. I sat at a stoplight and saw two LDS steeples on a block ahead of me. When I flew into the airport, I could see a meetinghouse in every subdivision, sometimes two. Each meetinghouse holds several congregations, not just one, so the vastness and reach of the LDS Church in Utah cannot be overstated.

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Driving around, you see steeples everywhere. At night, the temples that are in the foothills are lit up for all to see, and are very distinctive. There aren’t many coffee shops or bars, and the conversations you overhear are loaded with LDS terminology. For someone who longs for institutional breadth and unity, this is the place, unfortunately at the expense of truth. I can only imagine how a zealous Mormon feels living here, surrounded by his Church, fellow believers, a broadly agreeable culture and powerful institutional signs like the temples close at hand.

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The Oquirrh Mountain Temple.
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The Draper Temple.
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Temple grounds at Oquirrh Mountain.
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Statue of Moroni atop the South Jordan Temple.

Utah and the LDS culture should serve as a warning sign to Christians of whatever stripe who infer God’s blessing when they see church growth, the construction of buildings, material riches or an educated leadership. These things might be God’s hand of blessing, but they might also have nothing to do with him. The LDS Church has institutional strength, respected educational institutions, a vast missionary apparatus, wealth, and success, and yet it is built on an edifice of lies and false doctrine.

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Sunset at the Provo Temple.

As humans, do we earnestly seek after truth, or are we content with comfortable lies? I’m sure we all like to think that we seek for truth, but in my experience, that search only goes so far, and many areas are off-limits for truth to shine in on.

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Samuel Johnson on Daily Life

Johnson writes in his “A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland”:

These diminutive observations seem to take away something from the dignity of writing, and therefore are never communicated but with hesitation, and a little fear of abasement and contempt. But it must be remembered that life consists not of a series of illustrious actions or elegant enjoyments; the greater part of our time passes in compliance with necessities, in the performance of daily duties, in the removal of small inconveniences, in the procurement of petty pleasures, and we are well or ill at ease as the main stream of life glides on smoothly, or is ruffled by small obstacles and frequent interruptions.

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Bishop Rucyahana calls Karenzi Karake a Hero

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Bishop John Rucyahana (retired) has a long track record of defending Rwanda’s wicked dictator Paul Kagame. He did so again recently. For background, see this post about how he spoke up for Rose Kabuye when she was arrested. Kabuye is now an enemy of the state and I’m sure Rucyahana wouldn’t speak two words in her defense now, because he only speaks up publicly when the Rwandan regime is denouncing the latest enemy.

Lately, Rucyahana is outraged by the arrest of Karenzi Karake, a regime insider with blood on his hands. Karake was indicted in 2008 by a Spanish court on charges of genocide and the killing of three Spanish nationals working for Medicos del Mondo. These Spanish nationals were “shot through the head at close range” in a murder that was then blamed on Hutus.1

Later, Karake was in charge of forces invading the DRC that lobbed artillery into population centers, as this article says:

“It’s a period during which the Rwandan army killed hundreds if not thousands of civilians in both Rwanda and the Congo (DRC), particularly in the late 90s. He (Karake) was one of the key figures and many victims and witnesses and often cites his name in serious crimes,” says Carina Tertsakian, a senior researcher on Rwanda at Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch said of the crimes:

In this letter, we wish to focus particularly on the killings of civilians in the city of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo in June 2000. Press accounts identify General Karake as the commanding officer of Rwandan troops who fought against Ugandan army forces at Kisangani during that period. His own comments make clear that he had command of those forces at that time.

During that conflict, both sides acted with blatant disregard for the lives of the civilians present in Kisangani, Congo’s third largest city. According to a UN inter-agency assessment mission, more than 760 civilians were killed and 1,700 injured during four days of battle. Heavy artillery was used in a populated area of the city by the belligerents resulting in the destruction of schools, health centers, and churches as well as hundred of homes.

Karenzi Karake

Whatever crimes Karake committed do not phase Rucyahana, who considers Karake to be a hero, as he said about the arrest:

“Those people who walk and eat with killers of our people do not arrest those Genocide perpetrators, but have the guts to arrest our heroes who risked their lives to stop the Genocide. They are exercising Genocide denial.
We Rwandans, knowing where we are coming from, have to jointly fight that arrogance,” he said.

Rucyahana has no objectivity towards Rwandan evil and is certainly not operating on the basis of any moral reasoning deduced from the Bible. He dances to the tune of Paul Kagame, but still finds a willing audience with gullible Christians in the West.

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  1. http://www.nytimes.com/1997/01/20/world/hutu-militiamen-kill-3-spanish-aid-workers-in-rwanda.html
    Hutu Militiamen Kill 3 Spanish Aid Workers in Rwanda
    Published: January 20, 1997
    RUHENGERI, Rwanda, Jan. 19— In what appeared to be a calculated attack against foreign aid groups here, Hutu militiamen shot and killed three Spanish aid workers and seriously wounded an American in an overnight raid in northwestern Rwanda, survivors said today.
    Three Rwandan soldiers were also killed in the attack, aid workers said.
    The Spaniards, shot through the head at close range, were members of the Spanish branch of the international charity Doctors of the World. In Paris, the parent group announced that it was suspending all aid activities in Rwanda pending further information about the killings.
    The American, identified by aid workers as Nitin Madhav, 28, of the Pittsburgh area, was a program director for the organization. He was shot in the leg, which was later amputated at the local hospital at Ruhengeri, about 140 miles northwest of the capital, Kigali.
    Mr. Madhav was later flown to the capital and evacuated for further treatment. The bodies of the three Spaniards — two men and a woman — were still in the aid workers’ house today.
    »These people were executed, » Javier Zuniga, the director of the United Nations Human Rights Operation in Rwanda, said.  »Clearly these attacks were aimed at aid workers and expatriates generally. »
    The attack occurred weeks after six workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross were slain in their beds in Chechnya, a secessionist region of southern Russia. Those killings reverberated deeply in the network of international aid groups, prompting the Red Cross and others to begin re-examining the ways they protect vulnerable workers in conflict areas.
    In the attack here, Hutu militiamen stormed into the house and first demanded the Spaniards’ passports, an American diplomat said. The attackers were then disturbed by gunfire outside the house, and began shooting the three aid workers.
    Mr. Madhav, the American, was shot in the leg as he dived behind a table in an effort to escape.
    In Madrid, Doctors of the World identified the dead as Dr. Manuel Madrazo Osuna, 42, of Seville; Maria Flores Sirera Fortuny, 33, a nurse from Lerida, and Luis Maria Valtuena, 30, a photographer from Madrid who was working as an administrator here.
    The killings spurred most other expatriate aid workers in the Ruhengeri area to leave for the capital.  »Most of the expatriate in Ruhengeri have already reached Kigali, » a Western diplomat said.  »The mood is very somber. »
    In Kigali, the United Nations, international relief groups and the Government will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to decide whether the aid groups should formally suspend work in parts of Rwanda on security grounds.
    »U.N. people have been told to stay put and not go out, » a United Nations official said.  »And as soon as we have talked to the army we will be discussing whether or not to suspend operations. »
    The United Nations had already warned on Saturday that intensifying violence in Rwanda could force the suspension of humanitarian operations in some areas.
    The attack was the latest in a series involving expatriates in the area, which is near the border with Zaire. The house was in a compound also used by the French branch of Doctors of the World and by workers for Save the Children.
    »These attacks are deliberately mounted to scare away expatriates, » a senior Rwandan military officer said.  »We know these people are now operating from inside Rwanda. They think if they can drive out the expatriates now working here they can mount such attacks more easily. »
    He said the gangs responsible for recent attacks on aid workers had returned from neighboring Zaire with other Rwandan Hutu refugees late last year. They were now becoming bolder, he said.
    »The fighting appeared to have started in the slum areas of town among returnees who have come back from Zaire, » a senior United Nations official said of the overnight attack.  »There were two other incidents during the night during which a grenade was thrown into an aid worker’s house. »
    $(The attack was apparently coordinated with three others in the area, in simultaneous raids by Hutu militants on the aid agency compound, the home of an appeals court judge and a police station, The Associated Press quoted Mr. Zuniga as saying.
    $(It said the three Rwandan soldiers were killed when the troops responded to the attacks.$)
    Hutu militiamen, Government army troops and mobs killed about half a million people, mostly Tutsi and moderate Hutu, in a genocidal campaign here in 1994.
    Many of the militiamen along with more than a million refugees fled to neighboring countries after Tutsi rebels seized power and ended the three-month killing spree.
    Nearly a million Hutu refugees, including some militia members, returned from eastern Zaire and Tanzania at the end of last year. Their return has once again heightened ethnic tensions in many parts of the country.