Rick Warren was in Rwanda recently and the Anglican Church used the occasion to march out all three Archbishops: Kolini, Rwaje, and Mbanda, in close identification with the regime.
Unfortunately I lost many old posts from my blog in a WordPress upgrade. I am re-posting some of them now.
One of the Wikileaks cables from 2008 that came out of the US embassy in
Kigali addressed the subject of who governs Rwanda; you can view it here. It says in part:
An analysis of the ethnic breakdown of the current Rwandan government shows Tutsis hold a preponderant percentage of senior positions. Hutus in very senior positions often hold relatively little real authority, and are commonly “twinned” with senior Tutsis who exercise real power. The military and security agencies are controlled by Tutsis, generally English speakers who grew up as refugees with President Kagame in Uganda. The 28-member cabinet is evenly split among Tutsis and Hutus, but most key ministries are in the hands of Tutsis (Hutu ministers do head Health and Agriculture, ministries which affect the lives of most Rwandans). While the Rwandan government (GOR) presents itself as a champion of national unity and equal opportunity, de-emphasizing ethnic identity and ostensibly opening positions throughout society to those of skill and merit, political authority in the country does not yet reflect this ideal. Ethnic identity is still keenly felt and lived, and ordinary Rwandans are well aware of who holds the levers of power. The long-term stability of Rwanda depends upon a government and ruling party that eventually shares real authority with the majority population.
President Kagame is a Tutsi. So, too are the important Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Infrastructure, Local Government, and Information. Close Kagame confidant, Chief of Defense Staff General James Kabarebe, is Tutsi, as are the chiefs of the army and air force, the military district commanders. and the heads of the Rwanda National Police and the National Security Service (although some Rwandans joke that short-statured Air Force Chief Muhire is Twa). Indeed, all are English speakers who grew up in Uganda. Some major positions are held by Hutus, but their actual authority often appears limited, and they are widely perceived to be “twinned” with more powerful Tutsi colleagues.
For all the government’s exhortations to Rwandans to abandon ethnic identities and work in common on national goals, a policy that in fact has much to recommend it, the political reality is self-evidently otherwise. People remain keenly committed to their ethnic identities, and everyone is aware of which person holds which position and to which group he belongs. While the practical end-point for such a project may be years away. if this government is ever to surmount the challenges and divides of Rwandan society, it must begin to share real authority with Hutus to a much greater degree than it does now.
The upcoming ACNA Assembly features two troubling speakers: Rwandan Archbishop Laurent Mbanda and the apologist Ravi Zacharias. Why are these men troubling? Zacharias was discovered to be inflating his credentials a couple years ago, something he apologized for, but only when caught in the act. Professor John Stackhouse gets to the point about why this is troubling:
Well, when your whole job is to tell the truth as accurately, carefully, rigorously as possible, when what you’re really asking people to do by setting forth your credentials – which literally comes from the same word as creed or credo – why I should be believed, then you really take on a tremendous burden to speak very circumspectly. And if right out of the gate your credentials are suspect, then what are people supposed to do in the audience when he makes certain claims? Are they all supposed to hit their phones, or tablets and start checking everything you say because the stuff they can check isn’t quite true. Isn’t quite true. And I think as soon as we get into the it’s not quite true phase, I think you’re done. I just don’t think you can continue as an apologist if you’re not going to be scrupulous about telling the truth in a way that you can predict your audience will understand. Otherwise, you’re in the wrong game.(source)
Zacharias was also involved in a strange ongoing exchange of texts with a woman that may or may not have been inappropriate on his part. We will never know because there is an NDA between the parties, but the gist of the case can be seen here and here. Perhaps it was an extortion attempt, but the credential inflation is still a serious matter and giving him a platform at the Assembly is not necessary.
When it comes to Archbishop Mbanda, you have a man who does nothing but praise a dictator who kills his own people in the Rwandan police state, it would be akin to St. Paul praising Nero as a visionary leader. I have documented this extensively on this site, see this link. Unfortunately it seems that ACNA continues in its uncritical approach to Rwanda, which Mbanda is exploiting, with the new development that GAFCON’s next bishops meeting in opposition to Lambeth will take place in Kigali next year.
It would be one thing if the Rwandan bishops asked for prayer in the face of an oppressive state, but instead they trumpet this evil regime as if it is a great thing. In the future, ACNA’s unthinking acceptance of this narrative will look quite bad, but as of yet this has produced no change in our conduct.
On February 23, 2011 Rwandan Anglican Bishop Nathan Gasatura spoke during the chapel message at Wheaton College. During his message, he mentioned that he went to high school with Rwanda’s dictator, Paul Kagame:
I have been in the presence of the Presidents, about four, in our region, and every time I ask the Lord, “Lord give me the strength to just raise your flag, just in a small humble way.” And recently when, you know, we met, the President Kagame with many delegates we talked business and after were done we were to go and in my heart I said, “Oh Lord, I’m failing you help me!” And I put up my hand and asked, I said, “Your excellency, would you allow me to kindly pray in this place?” He said, “Of course Nathan” because we bumped into each other in some high school, so we knew each other a little bit.
And he was right there, it’s a big, big, you know, Presidential hall. And I just felt I need to move and pray with him there, something crazy, some of these things happen. So, I, I said, “if I move the security will think I’m in, you know, I’m up to something.” But I said anyway, “don’t worry” so I walked right across and as I stood behind him, near him, we were almost the same height, so I said, “yeah, I think it’s fitting to put my hand on him.” I prayed, and we all got out so I said, “who knows when I will ever have the opportunity like this?” Praise be to God.
Bishop Gasatura discusses the much-touted reconciliation process in Rwanda between the Hutu and the Tutsi. He goes on to make the astounding claim that “Kagame honors the Lord”:
In Rwanda the story of forgiveness, healing, peacebuilding and reconciliation has been a very painful journey, has been a heartbreaking journey, has been a painful, excruciating journey, has been a very, very, hostile journey, but it has been a worthwhile journey. We thank God for the leadership whom we believe God has used in some way because Kagame honors the Lord. He doesn’t proclaim Christianity openly, many of his ministers, members of Parliament and Senators they honor the Lord. When you come in the Presidential Prayer Breakfast that’s when you see it, it’s, it’s just moving. And we have no doubt that God has used that government to be used as his instrument like he used King Darius. And, Rwanda is changing partly because of the work of the church and government and other forces.
Bishop Gasatura then claims that Kagame was used by God to stop revenge after the genocide of 1994:
When the genocide was beaten and stopped, the very first policy that was put in place was a policy of no revenge, Kagame, somehow was used by God to say, “If we never stop this bloodletting and revenge this vicious cycle will never stop.” So he put in place like a general an order, which had not gone into policy and law, that nobody was allowed whatsoever to shed blood of someone who had killed even 200 of your family members, the government will handle that, nobody (should) take the law in his hands. And today that policy has gone into practice, into law, and a Commission of Unity and Reconciliation has been put in place to re-educate and help the Rwandans unlearn the wrong and poisonous history that they were taught. And if that was not supported by the Church, praying and interceding and teaching, and you know, repenting, it would never go far.
Fact checking the Bishop
Does Kagame honor the Lord?
One of his former cabinet ministers told me, “Like all of us, he grew up Catholic. He has never seriously practiced any faith.Before those he trusts, he ridicules faith in God, and those who believe.”
Furthermore, Kagame is a murderer who crushes all dissent in the open prison that is Rwanda, not quite the qualities of a leader who honors the Lord.
Did Kagame stop the bloodletting?
To the contrary, the entire reign of Kagame is covered in blood. Look at just a couple of the thousands of examples; first, former Kagame bodyguard Aloys Ruyezni wrote:
The Murder of Religious Leaders in Rwanda
The 157th Battalion, led by (then) Col. Fred Ibingira, killed many innocent people in Mutara, Kibungo, Bugesera, Gitarama and elsewhere during the final attack to take control of the country. This includes the bishops who were murdered in Kabgayi. The 157th Battalion’s I.O., Wilson Gumisiriza, organized a section of his staff to kill the bishops. It was led by (then) Sgt. Kwitegetse (alias Burakari), who was briefed on the mission by Gumisiriza. Gen. Kagame gave the final order to kill the bishops to Col. Ibingira. He gave him the order in these words: “Remove those rubbishes,” or “Fagia,” in Swahili.
Maj. Silas Udahemuka was appointed by President Kagame to supervise the killing of civilians during 1994 and afterwards. He would complete his assigned operation and then report back directly to Gen. Kagame.
The example of Festo Kivengere
Bishop Gasatura rightly praises the example of Ugandan Bishop Festo Kivengere, and says he wants to be like him. However, Kivengere spoke up against his dictator, Idi Amin, and had to flee Uganda because of it. Bishop Festo wrote:
A suffering Church can bless a nation and provide a refuge to which the suffering society may turn for healing, for liberation and hope. This was proved in Uganda as the Church came under more systematic attack, and hundreds of martyrs’ deaths were added to that of the archbishop’s.
Bishop Gasatura is knowingly or unknowingly spreading falsehoods about Rwanda and the nature of Paul Kagame.
In 2006, Andrew Paquin wrote an article in Christianity Today, part of which said this about Pastor Rick Warren’s connection to Rwanda:
Warren’s relationship with Rwandan President Paul Kagame is also of concern. Kagame was the leader of the rebel Tutsi forces that brought an end to genocide in 1994. Yet as president, he has overseen a military that continues to occupy parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Human-rights observers such as Amnesty International and even the U.S. State Department accuse Kagame of not only stripping Congo of its natural resources, but also of mass rape, burning villages, and murdering civilians. Rwandan leaders reject these claims, yet the human-rights community maintains their accuracy.
Years of African corruption in the wake of colonial puppetry have created rifts of distrust between those who are suffering and those with friends in high places. Although Kagame is an improvement from past leaders, his connection to former regimes and to ongoing human-rights concerns should trouble anyone seeking to work with him.
Coming to the defense of Kagame, current Anglican Bishop Augustin Ahimana Murekezi of the Kivu diocese wrote a response in Christianity Today. He said:
It is also our duty to inform American Christians that there has been a malicious campaign to demonize Rwanda’s leaders, distorting the political situation. This distortion emanates from people often hiding behind so-called humanitarian organizations. Some have a hidden agenda of distracting the international community so that their own role in Rwanda’s tragedy cannot be exposed.
When Rwandan troops decided to pursue the genocidal forces and their sponsors in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1996 and 1998, they did so in the light of day. The peace we enjoy today in our country is mainly a consequence of that action. When our troops pulled out of DRC in 2002, it was under the intense gaze of international observers and media. So accusing Rwandan troops today of continuing “to occupy parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo” is simply mind-boggling.
Bishop Augustin attributed all the multitude of reports pointing out
Kagame’s evil actions to “a malicious campaign to demonize Rwanda’s
leaders.” Would he say the same of all the former Rwandan leaders who
have defected and told the same stories? They are all liars to a man as
well? In fact, his attack on Paquin’s accurate article follows a pattern
clearly elucidated by Filip Reyntjens in this paper.
As history has shown since 2006, Rwanda has continued to stir up death and mayhem in the DRC, particularly in the Kivus. In fact, as this week’s Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo says:
The advance of M23 towards Goma started in earnest on 15 November with an attack on Kibumba, approximately 20 km north of Goma. After some success in pushing back M23 on the first and second days of the offensive with significant and robust support by MONUSCO, which is estimated to have resulted in high casualties to M23, the Congolese armed forces later succumbed to a larger, well-organized and well-supplied force. Following the setback of its first attack on Kibumba, the subsequent speed, efficiency and success of the renewed M23 offensive were rendered possible by a sudden increase in the group’s combatants, coordinated multi-pronged attacks and attacks with coordination between infantry and fire support, all capacities that are not characteristic of former integrated CNDP elements. Furthermore, MONUSCO observations of the command and control ability of the attacking force, the effective coordination of its fire support, the quality of its equipment and its general fighting ability, particularly during night- time, all suggested the existence of external support, both direct and indirect.
Let’s be clear, “external support” means “the Rwandan Army.”
The wars that Bishop Augustin defended involved horrific atrocities, as outlined in the Mapping Exercise report of the UN. Wikipedia says that the Second Congo War “and its aftermath had killed 5.4 million people, mostly from disease and starvation, making the Second Congo War the deadliest conflict worldwide since World War II.”
In fact, the Mapping Report says that the Armée patriotique rwandaise (APR – the Rwandan Army), went after ethnic Hutu’s regardless of their lack of involvement in the 94 genocide:
Several of the incidents listed appear to confirm that multiple attacks targeted members of the Hutu ethnic group as such, and not only the criminals responsible for the genocide committed in 1994 against the Tutsis in Rwanda and that no effort had been made by the AFDL/APR to distinguish between Hutu members of the ex-FAR/Interahamwe and Hutu civilians, whether or not they were refugees.
30. The intention to destroy a group in part is sufficient to constitute a crime of genocide and the international courts have confirmed that the destruction of a group can be limited to a particular geographical area. It is therefore possible to assert that, even if only a part of the Hutu population in Zaire was targeted and destroyed, it could nonetheless constitute a crime of genocide if this was the intention of the perpetrators. Several incidents listed in this report point to circumstances and facts from which a court could infer the intention to destroy the Hutu ethnic group in the DRC in part, if these were established beyond all reasonable doubt.
The incidents of horror from this war could be enumerated at length, but here is a sample of what the Rwandan Army did:
- On 21 October 1996, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB attacked Lubarika camp and village, killing an unknown number of Rwandan and Burundian refugees, as well as Zairian civilians who were trying to flee the village after the departure of the FAZ. The soldiers forced local people to bury the bodies in four large mass graves. On the same day, soldiers also burned thirty refugees alive in a house in the village of Kakumbukumbu, five kilometres from Lubarika camp.
- On 24 November 1996, in the village of Mwaba, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB burned 24 Burundian Hutu refugees from the Biriba camp alive. On their arrival in Mwaba, the soldiers arrested those present in the village. After questioning them, they freed the Zairian civilians and imprisoned the Burundian refugees in a house which they then set on fire.
- On 22 October 1996, in the Rushima ravine between Bwegera and Luberizi, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB killed a group of nearly 550 Rwandan Hutu refugees who had escaped the Luberizi and Rwenena camps a few days before. Soldiers inter- cepted the victims at the checkpoints set up in the surrounding area. Between 27 October and 1 November 1996, under the pretext of repatriating them to Rwanda, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB led an unknown number of additional refugees into the Rushima ravine and executed them.
- In January 1997, AFDL/APR units killed at least thirty Rwandan and Burundian refugees, mostly with knives, on the Bukavu to Walungu road, around sixteen kilometres from the city of Bukavu. The victims had been arrested as part of a combing operation. Before killing the victims, the soldiers often tortured and maimed them.
- Between 15 November and 16 November 1996, AFDL/APR units arrested an un- known number of Rwandan Hutu men from the Lac Vert camp and Mugunga and executed them. Some were bound and then thrown alive into Lac Vert, where they drowned. Others were shot in the head and their bodies dumped in the lake.
This could go on and on. Suffice it to say that these wars and those who instigate them should not be defended, but decried. Going after the humanitarian organizations instead is astonishing.
On July 23, 2012, an article appeared on the online New Times site that claimed to be penned by retired Bishop John Rucyahana. In the article, he advocated that the African Union should give those in the Eastern Congo – those living under the M23 ‘rebellion’ supported by Kigali – “the option for a referendum to choose where they should belong” meaning secession from Congo and becoming part of greater Rwanda. The article disappeared from the web. Here it is, pulled from the archives:
I Saw a Clear Vision
BY RT. REV. JOHN RUCYAHANA July 23, 2012
I saw African leaders from different parts of Africa together in a committed and serious discussion and I saw them come to an agreement. They agreed to research into the past of their continent and examine its difficult experiences and the causes of its upheavals.
They scrutinised tricks employed by colonialists to perpetuate those maledictions and failures in order to understand the present conditions that they are faced with, in political, economic, social and other related areas.
I saw the leaders’ concern mounting at the realisation that they needed to recapture state power and get a good grip of real leadership so as to give due value to the deaths of African heroes before them: King Musinga, Rudahigwa, Rwagasore, Lumumba, Majoro. Samora Machel, King Kabalega, S Biko, K Nkruma, Sankara.
Each African nation recited their fallen heroes who fell at the hands of foreign aggression. Soon after that, they set to recapture the African Hope and to engage that hope to restore the African dignity, bring true independence and reject laziness and dependency.
They committed themselves to work and to relate with only those who accorded them their due respect without any more tricks and derogation.
They got the cloud of dependency blown off their brains and transformed every national policy to suit their people’s aspirations, moved to educate their citizens and transform their people into productive and responsible citizens.
Wake up Africa! The arrest and charging of Rose Kabuye is just a warning to the whole of Africa. The arrest of Rose Kabuye, Rwanda’s Director General of State Protocol, is the European re-colonisation testing signal to the whole of Africa.
European powers, France and Germany, want to test the ability of Africans to interpret that action. Rwanda may feel the blow alone but the test is for the whole of Africa. Today is Rwanda, tomorrow it could be any other of the African countries.
If Rwanda alone interprets that action, will the rest of Africa cooperate and fight the arrogance of countries like France, Germany and Spain?
The next point is to make it a European policy. The whole of Africa will have signed their death warrant. Please Africa “wake up!”
Rwanda, it is time for you to live, you have existed for long, now is the time to rise and live with hope and dignity. Beware, however, that you have to fight for that dignity and nobody will give it to you as a present. You will have to earn it.
You have suffered enough: the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that was supervised by France’s Mitterrand, supported by Boutros Boutros Ghali, Mobutu, the French government and military machine and those who caused the deaths of millions of dear ones crippled Africa and Rwanda in particular.
It is obvious that France hates to see a miracle of Rwanda rising to what it is to day. Rwanda suffered at the colonialist’s partitioning of Africa, and her dear people and precious land were made part of Uganda and Congo.
As though that was not enough, the people of Rwanda are being persecuted and Rwanda is being unfairly accused. Enough is enough.
Africa’s leaders should wake up and shake off the colonial imposition bequeathed on her by the Western world and learn to work and fight for African dignity and restoration.
The African Union should endeavor to correct all mistakes done on Africa with all the energy within its power and ability. Those damages which are thought to be beyond repair can be redeemed productively.
For example, the problem of Congo is uncalled for, and D.R. Congo alone has the duty to put an end to the strife. If the Congolese do not recognise the people in Eastern Congo as their fellow Congolese, the African Union should give them the option for a referendum to choose where they should belong.
Finally, the African Union should redeem its dignity and shape Africa’s destiny and stop being manipulated and exploited by her former colonial exploiters.
In conclusion, Africa should condemn very strongly and reject the European effort to re-colonize Africa by use of International Courts and other means being used to threaten the Sovereignty of African leadership.
The writer is the Bishop of Shyira Diocese EAC, Chairman- Prison Fellowship International, Rwanda Chapter, Chairman- Hope Rwanda.