Dr. Cantrell Again

Dr. Phillip Cantrell commented on my post on RPF massacres below, and I thought it was worth elevating his comment to a post of its own given the seriousness of these issues for ACNA and GAFCON, so here is what he said:

Hello again Joel, and any readers. This is in response to this and your two previous posts from/abt Ryentjens. As a historian of Rwanda and the region, I would say Ryentjens is a major voice in Rwandan studies. For the record, he is more of a political scientist than a historian. He is also, or at least last time I checked, a jurist in Belgium; that is, our equivalent of a Belgian senator. As such, he used to have high-level, credible access to information in Rwanda. He still does, but he has been banned from Rwanda now b/c of his criticisms of Kagame and the RPF (obvious enough perhaps from your posts). He knows he would probably be detained and deported if he tried to enter the country now, which is true of other prominent historians, critics and observers of the country. I have read many of his writings and used them in my own publications. He is regarded by the community of Rwanda scholars as spot-on, accurate and fair; fair that is in his approach to the Hutu/Tutsi question and the issue of culpability in regards to the genocide and RPF attrocities since.

Tying into his comments abt Kagame and the allegations about RPF atrocities and killings since the genocide, these are really no longer in question, however much it may disturb some of the readers of this blog who, like many, including myself once, desperately wanted to believe in the “new Rwanda.” Kagame and the RPF, whatever their intentions may have been when they invaded from Uganda in 1991, did in fact play a role in bringing on the genocide, even as they fought to end it when no one else in the international community, including the U.S./U.N., did not. And they have run an increasingly despotic regime since.

It’s tragically ironic that I write these comments on the very day that the activist politician Victorie Ingabire was sentenced to 8 years in prison in Rwanda for alleged crimes of “speech” after a decidedly unfair trial by any Western standards, and even that assumes that its fair and just to imprison someone for non-violent political opposition. To the readers of this post: what would we say if George W. Bush had imprisoned Al Gore for 8 years for “vocal opposition” or if President Obama had imprisoned Newt Gingrich? Get the picture?

The only remaining, valid question it seems for the readers of this post, and the former AMiA, is to what extent is the Anglican Church in Rwanda complicit in all this, either thru its support or willing silence in Kagame and the RPF’s actions? Does it not behoove us and the Christian community to find out? Is it a just use of our “aid dollars” to inadvertently support such a state in Rwanda? At a time when the evidence is mounting of Rwanda’s support for the M23 rebels? The chickens are coming home to roost for Rwanda and the RPF. The “you owe us your silence b/c of your genocidal guilt” mantra is wearing out. The truth will come out. But even worse, the retribution will flow one day, and retribution in Africa usually, sadly, flows red.

Its not an easy position to be in and I do not envy the decision-makers in the former AMiA. Its not natural for us. As Ryentjens said once its hard for Americans to comprehend African conflicts b/c everything in American history is cast as the “good guys versus the bad guys” so find the bad guys and call the rangers. But, Ryentjans said, in African conflicts its always the “bad guys versus the bad guys” and that makes decision-making difficult. Lastly, I will say this, Ryentjens is a Belgian politician and the Belgians carry alot of guilt. I note that he suggested, from your posts, the problems began in 1959/60. Not really. The problems began even earlier when the country became racialized into Hutus and Tutsis. And the Belgians bear much responsibility for that, but not all of it. Some of it lies at the foot of the Rwandans. But they are not as willing as the Belgians, Ryentjens not withstanding, to admit it. I’m Phil Cantrell (cantrellpa@longwood.edu) and, unlike the RPF, I welcome comments, criticisms and dialogue.

Dr. Phillip Cantrell on Anglicans and Rwanda

In my previous post on “Playing an Away Game”, I referred to a document written by Dr. Phillip Cantrell called “The Anglican Church of Rwanda : domestic agendas and international linkages.” Dr. Cantrell was kind enough to comment on that post, and his insights are important. He has expanded on that comment a bit and given me permission to post it here. He welcomes dialog on the subject, so please give this a read. His concluding sentence should give PEAR USA, ACNA and GAFCON pause: “I have never been more fearful for Rwanda and the region.” Let’s hope that Anglicans can fulfill the role of Jeremiah in relationship to the government of Rwanda. Dr. Cantrell’s comments follow:

I’m Phil Cantrell, author of the above mentioned article “The Anglican Church of Rwanda: domestic agendas and international linkages.” I came across this blog and mention of myself from following Nkunda Rwanda on Twitter. I decided to write in order to clarify my own position, explain some issues raised here and invite further discussion. I’m a professor of African history at Longwood University in Virginia and I specialize in East Central Africa. I’m also a believer in Christ and was a member of an AMIA church for five years, and would be still if there was such an option where I now live.

In 2004 I undertook a mission trip with AMIA to Rwanda and knowing it was a Franco-phone country I brushed up on my French, only to find that the Anglican pastors and bishops I met with spoke better English than I. Finding this intriguing, I undertook my own research as a professional historian of Africa; research that resulted in the article. Let me state that like Joel, I have found the rank-and-file Anglican pastors and parishioners in Rwanda to be utterly sincere in their faith and desire for a better Rwanda. I have never questioned their faith in my writing and presentations on Rwanda. But I stand by my conclusions regarding the church’s relationship to the ruling RPF of Kagame. In a larger context, this should not be surprising in that mission-minded Americans fail to realize that the concept of separation of church and state as its understood in the West does not exist in Africa. I do not say that disparagingly of Africa; it’s a cultural difference. But it does mean that Rwanda’s Anglican hierarchy supports the RPF’s public face in Rwanda, perhaps unknowingly themselves but they do nevertheless. And their hierarchy certainly does knowingly.

As far as RPF members “infiltrating” the church, I think that is a complicated and arguable proposition. The RPF and the present Anglican hierarchy were born of the same Tutsi refugee diaspora in the camps of Uganda prior to the genocide and the RPF takeover of the country. They were a tight-knit diaspora and so some crossover is to be expected. I do contend however that the Anglican Church has failed to distance itself from the regime, with may contribute to a disastrous future for the country. I harbor no animus towards AMIA and its former relationship to the Anglican Church. As I said, I speak as a grieving member for the broken relationship and Rwanda’s plight.

In 2007, I made another research trip to Rwanda as an advisor to an ad hoc Rwanda Missions Board with AMIA. On that trip, I challenged my own conclusions before the article went to press. My research only confirmed my findings however and I published the article. I will also say Kolini and Rucyahana and other pastors and bishops I interviewed in 2007 were fully aware that I was a historian researching Rwanda and did not withhold talking to me. I suspect that at the time they were unaware of my knowledge of what was happening in the country. Because, after my return, the Mission Board was dissolved and I was disinvited from coming to Rwanda and will not return until the situation is changed. The full reasons for that are still somewhat unknown but it may have become apparent after my departure that I was asking the “wrong” questions. Some of my more outspoken and accomplished colleagues in the academic profession have been threatened if they return.

My concern always, as I was uniquely positioned as a professional historian and an AMIA parishioner, was that if American churches blindly provided aid to Rwanda vis-à-vis the Anglican Church of Rwanda, they would be de facto supporting an increasingly despotic regime which failed to enact the Arusha Accords of 1994, which promised a multi-ethnic and inclusive democracy, which the RPF itself signed in Arusha. Incidentally, the pre-genocide Anglican hierarchy in Rwanda did in fact support the genocidal actions of the previous Habyarimana regime. They were removed after the genocide and replaced with new leadership (i.e. Kolini, Rucyahana, etc) when the RPF took over, hence the close and troubling relationship presently. My fear, as someone who loves Rwanda and the region, is that the church is making the same mistakes the pre-genocide leadership did. And American missionaries must be wary of tacitly endorsing it too.

All that being said, I do not believe the rank-and-file of the church is behaving in an intentionally sinister way. The theological origins of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, born as it was from the English Church Missionary Society of the 1920s, gives it a tendency to avoid political engagement and critique, even as they collude with the false narrative of Rwanda’s history. As for the recent information concerning Kolini and Rucyahana and Rwanda’s actions in Congo, I think we must warily wait and see. I have met both men on several occasions and found them to be entirely sincere in their faith and intentions. I will need more evidence to convince me otherwise, but a connection to M23 is possible. Kolini after all is Congolese Rwanda. Other information was unwittingly provided to me in 2007, which raised my concerns about Rwanda’s intentions in Congo. For example, an Anglican pastor, whose name I will never reveal so as not to endanger him, tried to inform me that Eastern Congo had once been part of Rwanda. This is false but I felt it must have been coming from somewhere higher than him and its implications troubled me. I’m not sure of this clarifies or confuses but I felt like adding it to the debate here. I am happy to continue the dialogue. The things I have written about Rwanda and the AMiA relationship have caused angst and soul-searching for me but I have counseled with pastoral friends and I believe God has called me professionally to seek and speak truth, especially to power. I have never been more fearful for Rwanda and the region.

RPF Massacres

Reyntjens discusses RPF behavior in post-genocide Rwanda:

The victim turned bully; like elsewhere, this phenomenon happened in Rwanda, although it was not considered politically correct to acknowledge the reality of widespread ‘disappearances’, assassinations and massacres. An increasing number of Rwandan and expatriate sources from inside and outside the country indicated that before, during and after the genocide, the RPF killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Some of these incidents are well documented and a few even received international condemnation. However, most of them were unknown or, at times deliberately, underestimated. From the first days after the RPF’s victory, abuse was veiled in a conspiracy of silence, induced  in part by an international feeling of guilt over the genocide and a comfortable ‘good guys-bad guys’ dichotomy. An early report by UNHCR consultant Robert Gersony, who reportedly estimated that between 25,000 and 45,000 civillians had been killed by the RPF between April and August 1994, was suppressed and never released.

UPDATE: The substance of the Gersony report can be found here. It includes:

Large-scale indiscriminate killings of men, women, children, including the sick and the elderly, were consistently reported … Mass killings at meetings: Local residents, including entire families, were called to community meetings, invited to receive information about “peace”, “security” or “food distribution” issues. Once a crowd has assembled, it was assaulted through sudden sustained gunfire; or locked in buildings into which hand-grenades were thrown; systematically killed with manual instruments; or killed in large numbers by other means. Large-scale killings which did not involve such “meetings” were also reported.”

Soldiers asking residents to gather in order to attend a meeting, surrounding them and opening fire on the crowd are the same RPA killings pattern reported in DR Congo by the authors of “maping exercise” draft report.

Rwanda: an Army with a State?

Reyntjens says of Rwanda’s role in the Great African War:

Although it is the smallest country in the region, it is there that the epicentre of the crises lay. Without it, the conflicts would not have developed to such an extent. On the one hand, the 1994 genocide is a fundamental reference: as a consequence of both the old regime’s resistance to change and the deliberate strategy of tension conducted by the RPF, not only were hundres of thousands of Tutsi killed, but the Rwandan civil war also resulted in the violent restructuring of the whole region. On the other hand, the RPF – incapable of managing its victory – chose exclusion, ethnic domination and the military management of a political space, a mode of management which it extended beyond Rwanda’s borders. Encouraged by its moral high ground and by the ineptitude of the so-called international community, the new regime explored the limits of tolerance, crossing one Rubicon after another, and realised that there were none. (Military) success is intoxicating: the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) went from war to war…The status of regional superpower acquired by this very small and very poor country is truly astonishing, and it was obtained through the force of arms, which was allowed to prevail because of the tolerance inspired by international feelings of guilt after the genocide. Paraphrasing what was said in the late 19th century about Prussia, Rwanda became an army with a state, rather than a state with an army, and it emerged as a major factor of regional instability.

The Great African War

I am reading The Great African War by Filip Reyntjens. It is about the war(s) in and around the Congo and Rwanda in the 1990’s. He writes:

the seeds of instability were sown in the beginning of the 1960s: the massive exile of the Rwandan Tutsi, who fled to neighbouring countries during and after the revolution of 1959-1961, and the virtual exclusion of Tutsi from public life in Rwanda, the radicalisation of Burundian Tutsi who monopolised power and wealth and the insecure status of Kinyarwanda-speakers in the Kivu provinces – all these factors were to merge with others to create the conditions for war. The acute destabilisation of the region started on 1 October 1990 when the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) attacked Rwanda from Uganda with Ugandan support.

Fruits of M23

This article illustrates the horrors of M23 in the Congo:

On July 25, when the shells started exploding, Penina Mukandaysenga was playing in her back yard with her three children in Kiwanja, a small town five minutes’ drive from Rutshuru. Her husband had gone to Goma for medical treatment.

“I just saw my child’s head blown away by the first bomb,” she said at Rutshuru government hospital.

The hospital, although still under the control of government authorities, is kept running and supplied by Doctors Without Borders.

As she ran toward 18-month-old infant Noelina Kisubizo, her youngest child, she said a second shell exploded in the garden. It tore away half her right arm — she is right-handed — and shrapnel cut into her left arm, leaving it momentarily useless.

Mukandaysenga barely opened her swollen lips as she listlessly described the nightmare.

Other injured people at the hospital said the shells were fired from a hillside above Kiwanja, from M23 rebels attacking Congolese soldiers.

Rwandan Support for M23

Apparently Rwanda supports M23 and is trying to conquer part of the Congo. And what is more, this appears to be a Tutsi vs. Hutu conflict. Read this latest article, and these excerpts:

Nsanzimana said he was 10 when his family first came to Congo, among more than a million Rwandan Hutus who fled after the genocide. He was here in 1996 when Kagame’s troops bombarded refugee camps, killing genociders and innocent civilians indiscriminately. Then they chased those who fled in an orgy of massacres across the breadth of Congo, a country the size of Western Europe.

His father and one brother died in that flight. His sister escaped to neighbouring Republic of Congo. One brother remained as an FDLR commander.

Nsanzimana and one remaining brother finally returned home to Rwanda, only to find that their father’s properties had been seized by Tutsi neighbours.

“When we tried to reclaim our property, those who had stolen it made false accusations against us about the genocide, and we landed up in jail,” he said.

In 2004, the brothers were released and given back one house and a farm. Life remained a struggle, he said, living off the land on the farm.

Nsanzimana believes Rwanda’s latest adventure has left him homeless. He thinks his only chance is to seek refugee status far from Rwanda and eastern Congo, where he believes the history of hatred between Tutsis and Hutus can never be resolved.

“The Rwandan Defence Forces are the same Rwandan Patriotic Front (rebels) that killed my brother and are responsible for the death of my father,” he said. “They are the same Tutsi military that trained me how to fight and brought me to this battlefield.”

My initial thought on all of this is that American Anglicans must insist that the Rwandan Church (PEAR) speak up for the full inclusion of Hutus at all levels of society.

Playing an Away Game

Ties to the African Anglican churches have by and large been positive for American Anglicans. Their orthodoxy, fervency for Jesus, and love of Scripture have been a glass of water in a thirsty land of apostasy.

With that in mind, it seems to me that we are aligning ourselves with political situations we have little to no idea about. We are playing an away game and we don’t know many of the players on our team or the opposing team. George Conger’s recent article on the possible involvement of Emmanuel Kolini with M23 in the Congo is one example. The UN report that Conger mentions says:

Another similar M23 meeting with Rwandan authorities took place on 26 May 2012 in Ruhengeri, Rwanda, at Hotel Ishema. According to intelligence sources and to politicians with close ties to Kigali, the RDF organized the meeting for CNDP politicians, which was chaired by Bishops John Rucyahana and Coline (sic – should read Kolini), both senior RPF party leaders. The aim of the meeting was to convey the message that the Rwandan Government supports M23 politically and militarily. All Rwandophone politicians and officers were instructed to join M23, or otherwise leave the Kivus.

I would by lying if I said I knew anything about “M23” before reading this. However, a Google search turns up some interesting things about the group, including pictures like this:

 

Then there is an article by Stephen W. Smith called Rwanda in Six Scenes. It was published in a leftist magazine, but that doesn’t necessarily detract from its essential veracity. It should be read by all with an interest in the subject, and it says in part:

Rwanda, as a recent document has it,

is a one-party authoritarian state, controlled by President Kagame through a small clique of Tutsi military officers and civilian cadres of the RPF from behind the scenes. The majority Hutu community remains excluded from a meaningful share of political power. State institutions are as effective as they are repressive. The government relies on severe repression to maintain its hold on power … Rwanda is less free today than it was prior to the genocide. There is less room for political participation than there was in 1994. Civil society is less free and effective. The media is less free. The Rwanda government is more repressive than the one that it overthrew.

This is not the preamble to a new Hutu manifesto but an excerpt from the ‘Rwanda Briefing’ published last year by four senior figures in the Kagame regime who’ve now fled abroad: the former secretary general of the RPF Theogene Rudasingwa; his brother Gerald Gahima, one-time prosecutor general and vice-president of the Rwandan Supreme Court; the erstwhile chief of external security services Colonel Patrick Karegeya; and General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, the ex-chief of staff of the Rwandan army. Nyamwasa survived an attempt on his life last June, when a commando opened fire on him in Johannesburg, where he now lives in exile. The South African authorities laid the blame with the government in Kigali.

Conger’s article goes on to say:

Direct assistance in the creation of M23 through the transport of weapons and soldiers through Rwandan territory; Recruitment of Rwandan youth and demobilized ex-combatants as well as Congolese refugees for M23; Provision of weapons and ammunition to M23; Mobilization and lobbying of Congolese political and financial leaders for the benefit of M23; Direct Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) interventions into Congolese territory to reinforce M23; Support to several other armed groups as well as Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) mutinies in the eastern Congo; Violation of the assets freeze and travel ban through supporting sanctioned individuals.”

The Group of Experts stated two Anglican bishops had convened a meeting organized by the Rwandan Defence Forces for leaders of the CNDP – the Congrès national pour la défense du peuple, CNDP  is a political armed militia established by Laurent Nkunda in the Kivu region in 2006 that under the terms of the recent peace accord is to be integrated into the Congolese army.  The Group of Experts further identified the two bishops as “senior members” of Rwanda’s ruling government party.

Conger also contacted Archbishop Rwaje, who said:

Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje said: “We were not aware of the UN report or any involvement of our retired Bishops as contained in the report. PEAR is in the Proclamation of the Gospel and not in politics between two countries or simply put in politics. We are not able to comment on the report or the names therein.”

Finally, there is a document written by Phillip Cantrell called “The Anglican Church of Rwanda : domestic agendas and international linkages.” It was written in 2007, and it gives a good accounting of the AMiA / PEAR (called PEER in this document) relationship to that point. I can’t do justice to the entire thing, you should read it, but it says in conclusion:

As to Rwanda’s church leaders, specifically PEER, their close association with and support of the RPF, dating back to their own origins in Uganda, have made them a politicised church along the same lines as the Catholic and Protestant Churches under both Kayibanda and Habyarimana. They support the post-genocide narrative offered by the RPF, and have been enlisted in the campaign to re-write Rwanda’s history. While their efforts to promote reconciliation have brought many resources and much attention to the country, and while they may be utterly genuine in their own efforts, they have become complicit in presenting the RPF’s version of Rwanda’s history and politics. As a result, to paraphrase Pottier (2002), AMIA has joined the ranks of numerous groups in the ‘aid industry’ that prefer to accept the authorities’ easy reading of a highly complex situation, and have actively reproduced and spread, wittingly or unwittingly, a vision of Rwanda that bears the RPF’s seal of approval. Forgotten is Lemarchand’s (1998) warning that ‘there can be no reconciliation without justice and no justice without truth’.

Many of these sources point to former Archbishop Kolini’s connections, which I believe came to fruition with the AMiA – Congo tie up this year. If the UN report is correct, Kolini is multitasking while in the Congo and is keeping very busy. It would be interesting to map the territory of the “4 dioceses…committed to being partners through Concordat” mentioned by Kevin Donlon, and presumably in the Congo, with Kolini’s activity.

But the bottom line here is: we don’t know. I don’t know anything about M23, the CNDP or anything else in the Congo or Rwanda, and I bet you don’t either. Most of you anyway. But when we ally ourselves with these churches, we risk being drawn into a whole web of connections that we are unaware of. I don’t know what the answer is to the questions posed by these connections, but I think we should start thinking through them.

EAR Article at Anglican Ink

James Gibson wrote a helpful article on the East Africa Revival Network here. He interviews Dr. David Cashin, an advisor to the Network. Cashin says:

The reality is that there is a major turning of Muslims to Christ. It’s still very gradual. We saw some inklings of it in the 70’s, and with each passing decade, it’s expanded.”

Cashin credits Bishop Bilindabagabo for understanding a reality within Islam with which most Westerners are unfamiliar. “Increasingly, you have groups within Islam which are trying to force their version of Islam on everybody else,” he said. “What has happened over the past few years is that 30,000 Muslims have blown themselves up, and 90 per cent of them have done so in the presence of fellow Muslims. What is driving this is, if you have a kingdom of God that is established on earth by means of human hands through the agency of coercive violence, you’re going to have a mess.”

Radical Islam, where it has won out, has invariably created failed states, Cashin said. This has resulted in a backlash, particularly among youth who are beginning to question Islam as never before.

“That is why Christian missions need to focus on the Muslim world,” Cashin said. “We think of them as the ones that are most closed to the Gospel. I believe the opposite is true. They are the people most open to the Gospel right now. This is a time of harvest. Satan’s strategy is to get Christians to ignore Islam or, worse yet, to hate Islam. That is the only way to stop the Muslims from coming to Christ.”

Stop the Spread of Islam in Africa

You can donate to the East Africa Revival Network here. A bit of background:

The East Africa Revival Network is an initiative to prevent the people of East Africa from falling behind an Islamic Curtain. And we need your help.

After World War II an Iron Curtain of Atheistic Communism fell over the peoples of Europe. Churches were closed, Christian leaders were imprisoned, practicing Christians were persecuted in innumerable ways and there could be no open proclamation of the Gospel. Two generations of young Europeans were effectively ‘lost’ to the Kingdom of God.

Islam is growing fast in Africa. Already more than 50% of the inhabitants of Africa are Muslim. It has been stated and echoed again and again by Muslim leaders that Africa will become the first “Islamic Continent”. They are very serious about this. The Iranians, Libyans, the Saudis,and many other members of the 57 nation Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) are pouring many millions of dollars into African nations to build mosques, Islamic schools, clinics and to support a literal army of Islamic teachers and preachers. East Africa (Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and the Eastern Congo) is a priority target for Islamic takeover because of it’s poverty and the ancient roots of Arab businessmen here Tanzania is alreaddy more than 30% Muslim, the tipping point for domination is about 40%.

At a Jerusalem Conference of church leaders Bishop Alexis Bilindabagabo was approached by two Tanzanian leaders who said, “You there in Eastern Rwanda still have revival. The churches in the path of the Islamic takeover in Tanzania are weak, worldly, or fractured. Can’t you come over and help us before the Muslims takeover? Otherwise Christians wll become a persecuted minority.”

Bishop Alexis had experienced cruel ethnic persecution in Rwanda and had been forced to be a refugee from his own country three times. He heard their cry and prayed. Then he invited these two Tanzanian leaders to the East Africa Revival Convention held in his Gahini Diocese each year and by faith announced God had raised up 18 laymen who were experience and committed evangelists to send to Tanzania to work with the churches there that are directly confronted by the Islamic Invasion. Out of this was born the Vision for an inter-denominational, international ministry of partners that would enlarge and accelerate the Mission to confront the Islamic Challenge with a revival of an evangelistic, missionary, church planting spirit.