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February 24, 2010
Worldfocus Radio: Rwanda as Regional Power

The president visits Ruhango. Photo: PaulKagame on Flickr

The East African nation of Rwanda has come a long way since a horrific genocide 16 years ago resulted in the death of around 800,000 Tutsis, as well as “moderate” Hutus who opposed the genocidaires.

President Paul Kagame’s Tutsi-dominated government has achieved economic, political, and military stability at a time when many surrounding governments face major crises. Many Western admirers look at the Rwandan president as a model leader in the developing world.

Martin Savidge hosts journalist and author Stephen Kinzer and human rights activist Noel Twagiramungu to discuss:

  • Post-genocide politics: moving forward, justice & ethnic divisions
  • Regional rivalries: security concerns, Rwandan alliances & Congo wars
  • Big Picture/U.S.: Sarkozy visit, Clinton regrets & Obama policies

Guests:

Stephen Kinzer is a foreign correspondent who has covered more than 50 countries on five continents for The New York Times and Boston Globe. Kinzer’s most recent book is A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It.

Noel Twagiramungu, a PhD student at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, worked as a rights activist in Rwanda from 1991 until he fled in 2004. As general secretary of the Rwandan League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, Twagiramungu documented government abuses.

Credits:
Host: Martin Savidge
Producer: Ben Piven
Associate Producer: Connie Kargbo

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Comments

13 comments

#13

This is to you Ann Garisson,ofcourse you would disagree with stephen,you have always taken sides,i think your professional ethics are pathetic,because they are biased and one sided-atleast when it comes to the question of Rwanda.When do you strike a balance Ann?

#12

To congolese Native comment:don’t blame Rwanda for problems you created yourself from the time you gained independance.Remember Materialistic and puppet Mobutu? Didn’t he get a lump sum from the CIA and Belgian intelligence to assassinate Patrice Lumumba? What about the hate speech made by Congolese Leaders to kill Banyamulenge? Didn’t the Mai Mai Rebels,together with Burundi Hutu Rebels,Rwanda hutu rebels cross into Burundi to kill Banyamulenge refugees? Several dissidents from FDLR Hutu militias confirmed that Congolese Army and Politicians give support to FDLR and Burundi Hutu militias, this is nothing new,from 1965,Congolese Militia helped invade Burundi to kill innocent and unarmed civilians.Remember August 2004,infants of 4Months,3years were butchered and burnt by Congolese Rebels with Burundi Hutu militias,now,it’s your choice to confuse the world,presenting yourself as innocent!

#11

[…] World Focus Radio recently held a discussion about the political situation in Rwanda. Taking part were the author and foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer and human rights activist Noel Twagiramungu. Martin Savidge hosted the discussion. The discussion focuses on: […]

#10

Hello again to Susan Thomson, whom I so often find myself joining in these discussions. I’ve said all I have to say about Kinzer for the moment in my OpEdNews response to his claim that Kagame’s Rwanda can’t afford free speech, http://bit.ly/cXvfZC Needless to say, I disagree. I even think Rwanda should have free and fair elections and a free press. http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/287770, http://coloredopinions.blogspot.com/2010/03/rwandan-press.html

#9

I think people like Kinzer needs more education about Rwanda but since he is arguing s someone who has been bribed there is no problem I am ready to give him a free tuition on Rwandan history because he might have missed some education about the education of african studies therefore he is not qualified to discuss about Rwanda but to defend Kagame as he is intentioned. the people who are biased in reportin like Kinzer are the ones who continue making Africa be in such problems. Rwanda is not stable Rwanda is what it is because of USA n UK support if they had pulled out today you would experience worse than Somalia

#8

Rwis doanda presedent Kagame he doing excelent job.For his country and around Africa. Just he need to do more open to the country rest of world.And also prove ,human rights record . And held free and fair electoin.Rwanda will do well will be example of rest Africa.

#7

Should Stephen Kinzer’s credibility be measured in terms of the amount of time he spent with Kagame? Does Susan Thomson suggest that presenting the views of the president of Rwanda (the only purpose of Kinzer’s interviews and just one element of the journalist’s large work in Rwanda) is irrelevant to understanding Rwanda’s current realities and potential future? Those who want to understand Rwanda as it is today are much better of listening to Kinzer than Susan Thompson (her comment seems to suggest that SHE would be the genuine expert on Rwanda) whose anti-Kagame/RPF passion does not need to be demonstrated. She has been a zealous anti-RPF activist for many years and belongs to a very specific group of “experts” whose theories about the future of Rwanda are being challenged every day by the facts on the ground. In order for their views to prevail, they need Kagame’s RPF to fail. They wish he fails. Rwandans (those who live in Rwanda unlike Noel) certainly don’t.

#6

Should Stephen Kinzer’s credibility be measured in terms of the amount of time he spent with Kagame? Does Susan Thomson suggests that interviewing the president of Rwanda (the only purpose of Kinzer’s visits) is irrelevant in trying to understand Rwanda’s current realities? Those who want to understand Rwanda as it is today, are much better of listening to Kinzer than Susan Thompson (her comment suggests that SHE would be the genuine expert on Rwanda) whose anti-Kagame passion does not need to be demonstrated. She has been a zealous anti-RPF activist for many years and belongs to a very specific group of “experts” whose theories about the future of Rwanda are being challenged day after day. In order for their views to prevail, they need Kagame’s RPF to fail. They wish he fails. Rwandans (those who live in Rwanda unlike Noel) don’t.

#5

Am equally baffled by the accusation by Susan Thompson against Stephen Kinzer opinions on Rwanda.Much as they don’t augur well with her,we in Rwanda are evidence that what he says is true.Sixteen years ago,Rwanda was another failed state in the eyes of people like Susan,Today we are a nation not only on our feet but a beacon of hope in a region known more for it’s chaos.
Though our problems are still many,every effort is being made to overcome our enormous problems inherited partly from the past Government and a cocktail of confused interventionists like Susan in our internal matters.

#4

Susan Thompson’s point is necessarily valid. If World Focus wanted an expert on Rwanda, they surely would have found someone more knowledgeable than Steven Kinzer. He might be politically correct,and a personal friend of president Paul Kagame but he is certainly NOT an expert on Rwanda. I give you an F for that.

That said, World Focus needs to be CONGRATULATED for promoting two sides of the coin. This is very rare in modern journalism. for that, you deserve an A.

#3

Thanks for your comments about our show.

We do our best to provide balanced discussions on Worldfocus Radio. If you look at the disagreements between the two guests on this show, you’ll find that they represent a wide swath of the Rwandan — and indeed international — political spectrum.

Susan, it sounds like you have an affinity for the views espoused by Noel, rather than the opinions presented in Stephen’s book.

We don’t pretend that it is possible to be ideologically neutral in covering this issue, but we strive, as always, to provide a balance with the guests that are on air with us.

Thanks again for your observations, and we hope you’ll keep listening.

Ben
Worldfocus Radio

#2

It is absolutely shameful that Stephen Kinzer, a man who has spent most, if not all of his time in Rwanda, in the escort of Paul Kagame and members of his ruling Rwanda is presented as knowledgeable about contemporary Rwanda.

Kinzer’s book, “A Thousand Hills”, is deeply flawed. Not least of which is the fact that he speaks for peasants Rwandans in proclaiming their loyalty to the current government, despite compelling academic and policy evidence to the contrary.

Shame on you World Focus for such one-sided reporting.

#1

Don’t forget that Rwanda under Paul Kagame achieved economic,” political” and military stability at the expense of Democratic Republic of Congo. In the last 16 years, Rwanda under Kagama has contributed to create instability in DR Congo by supporting various rebel groups and in some instances, Kagame has invaded Congo on several occasions for the purpose of exploiting Congo’s resources. It is not a secret for anyone that most if not all rebel groups operating in East Congo are supported by Rwanda one way or the other, all these at the expense of the congolese people. You must be kidding the world when you present Paul Kagame as a model of leadership in developing world. Please don’t insult the memory of millions of Congolese people who died as a result of Kagame style of governing.

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