Missing Rucyahana Article

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.

 

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.

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.

U.N. Security Council Condemns Outside Support for M23

From this story:

The United Nations Security Council today reiterated its condemnation of and demand for an end to all external support being provided to armed groups – in particular the group known as the March 23 Movement (M23) – which have been destabilizing the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) over recent months.

“In this regard, the Security Council expresses deep concern at reports indicating that such support continues to be provided to the M23 by neighbouring countries. The Security Council demands that any and all outside support to the M23 as well as other armed groups cease immediately,” Ambassador Gert Rosenthal of Guatemala, which holds the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of October, said in a presidential statement.

“The Security Council calls upon all countries in the region to condemn the M23, as well as other armed groups, and to cooperate actively with the Congolese authorities in disarming and demobilizing the M23 as well as other armed groups and dismantling the M23 parallel administration,” the statement added.

The DRC’s eastern provinces of North and South Kivu have witnessed increased fighting over recent months between Government troops and the M23, which is composed of soldiers from the DRC’s national army who mutinied in April.

In addition to the violence leading to an alarming humanitarian situation, marked by rape, murder and pillaging, the fighting has displaced more than 300,000 people, including many who have fled to neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, as well as within DRC.

Peacekeepers from the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) have been aiding the DRC’s Government troops in their efforts to deal with the M23. Earlier this week, six UN peacekeepers and a local interpreter were wounded in an overnight ambush while returning from a patrol with 12 other peacekeepers near Buganza in North Kivu province after finding the bodies of four civilians.

Bishop A. Bilindabagabo Elected as President of the Council of Protestant Churches of Rwanda

News from Rwanda follows:

A Press Release from The East Africa Revival Network

Gahini, Rwanda

ANGLICAN BISHOP A. BILINDABAGABO ELECTED AS

PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL OF PROTESTANT  CHURCHES OF RWANDA

Dec. 26, 2011

This month Bishop Alexis Bilindabagabo was elected to succeed Dr. Onesphore Rwaje (Archbishop of PEAR) as President of The Council of Protestant Churches of Rwanda (CPR – French Acronym).

The Council of Protestant Churches of Rwanda is a fellowship of 23 Protestant Churches and Christian Organizations. The CPR was created in November 1962 to create a forum promoting unity and cooperation among the Protestant Churches of Rwanda.  The CPR has worked tirelessly to promote healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation among all Rwandan following the genocide of 1994. The CPR is noted and respected by both Church and Government leaders for its transparency, unity, and harmonious operations and for promoting the same across all denominations and Christian organizations.

Among the Members Churches and Organizations of the CPR are:

The Presbyterian Church of Rwanda

PEAR – Province Episcopal Au Rwanda

The Association of Baptist Churches of Rwanda

The Lutheran Church of Rwanda

The Nazarene Church of Rwanda

The Brethren Church of Rwanda

The Free Methodist Church of Rwanda

Association of Pentecostal Churches of Rwanda (ADEPR)

African Evangelistic Enterprise

African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM)

The Seventh Day Adventist Church of Rwanda

Youth for Christ Rwanda

The CPR provides a forum for resolving conflicts and misunderstandings in and among churches, promotes and provided initiatives for many social development programs, provides leadership and resources for trauma counseling and other ministries to help the country recover and reconcile from the genocide. The nation of Rwanda is grateful for all of the help and support she has received from nations, organizations, and agencies around the world. However, the goal of President Kagame and the Rwandan people is to be a nation that eventually needs no assistance, but, rather provides help and assistance to others. The CPR has a strong emphasis in guiding the Protestant Churches in Rwanda towards financial autonomy and sustainability.

Bishop Alexis is well suited to continue to help toward these goals as he follows Abp. Rwaje in this leadership role. Bishop Alexis is a genocide survivor who served the church in Rwanda during that sad period. He saw and experienced firsthand the sorrow and tragedy visited upon many lives firsthand. Immediately following the cessation of hostilities the Bishop was involved in forming the Barakabaho Foundation. For more than sixteen years that organization has provided sustenance, education, and other kinds of care for thousands of children orphaned by the war. Barakabaho means, “let them live”.

Bishop Alexis is a man who cares for his nation and for people. This concern, taken to God in prayer, often results in visionary initiatives. Two years before the genocide Bishop Alexis and his wife Dr. Grace started an organization called The Christian Movement for Evangelization, Counseling, and Reconciliation. This NGO continues its valuable contribution to Rwandan society up to this day. Through MOUCECOR (French acronym) trauma counseling, practical care for widows, vocational training, and other programs and resources, coordinated with international organizations, provide help for thousands of persons at risk.

In response to the aggressive Islamization of the African continent Bishop Alexis, together with other Christian leaders, has helped to launch two initiatives (APRID and the East Africa Revival Network) to reach out to Muslims and to equip the Church in East Africa to increase its understanding of the situation and to respond in evangelism, discipleship, and church planting in regions at risk.

Bishop Alexis assists Archbishop Rwaje as the Dean of the Province Episcopal au Rwanda (PEAR). This position is conferred upon the longest serving bishop in the Rwandan House of Bishops.

The Bishop’s past experience should equip him to do well as President a diverse group of Churches and leaders like CPR. Bishop Alexis has been the Bishop of Gahini Diocese in the far east of Rwanda since the genocide. The new diocese was formed in this war-ravaged area under his leadership. His national and regional work and involvements have not detracted from his intense interest in providing pastoral care, leadership training, evangelism, church planting, and the development of social and agricultural projects in his own diocese. Under his leadership the formation of the newly created diocese has grown to several hundred churches that are sending missionaries into neighboring Tanzania.