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Interview with FDU-UDF chairwoman Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza 18 - 01- 2009


Interview with FDU-UDF chairwoman Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza 18 - 01- 2009 from olny.nl on Vimeo.
Africa resists financial hurricane from olny.nl on Vimeo.

The next presidential elections in Rwanda are about two years away but the opposition in exile is already getting ready for them. The Unified Democratic Forces (UDF) have already announced their participation and are even optimistic. Mrs Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza heads that organisation and has been presented by Dutch and Belgian media as UDF candidate. That is not the case, at least for the time being, says Ingabire in an interview that I am pleased to present in several parts covering Ingabire’s biography, democracy and governance in Rwanda, genocide and ethnicity, UDF’s relations with other organisations, and their diplomatic relations, including Ingabire’s meeting with Barack Obama. Go to theme-based excerpts

TRADUCTION FRANCAISE:

Alors qu’il reste encore à peu près deux ans avant les élections présidentielles, on s’y prépare déjà, surtout du côté l’opposition en exile. Les Forces Démocratiques Unifiées, FDU, viennent d’annoncer qu’elles allaient y participer et sont même optimistes. Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza est à la tête de cette organisation et a été récemment présentée par les média surtout belges et néerlandais comme étant candidate des FDU, ce qui n’est pas tout à fait vrai, du moins pour le moment, comme Madame Ingabire me l’a dit dans l’interview que j’ai le plaisir de vous présenter en plusieurs parties, touchant notamment à la biographie de Madame Ingabire, à la démocratie et à la gouvernance au Rwanda, au génocide et à la question ethnique, aux relations entre les FDU et les autres forces politiques, ainsi qu’à leurs relations diplomatiques, y compris la rencontre de Madame Ingabire avec Barack Obama. Extraits thématiques

Obama’s roots trace new routes for US-Africa relations

Les racines d’Obama tracent une nouvelle route dans les relations USA-Afrique

Brack Obama

Barack Obama
©www.barackobama.com

Barack Obama is now the most powerful man on the planet for at least the coming four years. The man who repeatedly showed his pride of being a Kenyan-American who struggled from scratch to fame, has promised change at all level. That was even his campaign motto: ‘Change we can believe in’. Back ‘home’, in Kenya in particular and in Africa in general, they too believe that something is changing. The view of America, the warlike nation, the country of the rich who operate where their interests are, is changing. Obama’s foreign policy does not contain any spectacular change as far as Africa is concerned. However, those changes are to be found somewhere else: namely in Obama’s most important speeches.

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Africa resists financial hurricane


Africa resists financial hurricane from olny.nl on Vimeo.



As the Dow Jones desperately keeps going down, and Western banks keep navigating in troubled waters, Africa is firmly resisting and her finances and economy are said to be healthier than ever.

“In Togo we are not dealing with the crisis”, T. Gnasosounou of Cauris Investissement, told me in early October in The Hague. His understanding of the current crisis is that there is much liquidity in the West but ‘bankers don’t know how to use this money’, while ‘in Africa it’s the opposite’.

“The crisis is not affecting us at all”, adds F. Swai of Akiba Commercial Bank in Tanzania. She explains that this immunity comes from the fact that none of the collapsed or collapsing banks have no chapters in her country. However, she adds, the Central Bank of Tanzania is consulting with commercial banks to strengthen regulations.

The urgent issue now is to know how long African banks will stay in calm waters in a globalized and market-based world economy

From refused to refugee: Struggling for acceptance

(Olivier Nyirubugara)

Olivier Nyirubugara, www.olny.nl Editor

Olivier Nyirubugara, in Bangui, CAR, August 1998

In August 2004 I visited Paris and met some of the former senior officials of the Central African Republic (CAR), who had run away after the coup of March 15, 2003. I was a refugee in that country when General Francois Bozize ousted Ange Felix Patasse, and was able to cover the events as a journalist. One of the ex-officials I met in Paris was the same person who had repeatedly announced on national radio in the early 2000s that Rwandan refugees had to find another country to go to. Some fellow refugees had even been killed by government soldiers in previous conflicts while others had been forced into neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where they were given no option but to join rebel groups in the East.

“I haven’t managed to get a refugee status here”, the former official told me when I asked him about his situation. “I hope they will not end up deporting me back home”, he added. While I listened to his moaning, my mind started replaying the horrible situation I went through some seven years before. In May 1997, together with thousands of other fellow Rwandans, I crossed the gigantic Oubangui River into the Republic of the Congo from the war-ravaged neighbour that was to be renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). After seven months of perilous walking westwards to escape the so-called first Banyamulengue fighters (Tusti populations in eastern DRC) and their Rwandan supporters, we finally thought we had arrived at a place that would accept and harbour us.

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Polls and talks: Towards a restyled African leadership

(Olivier Nyirubugara)

Olivier Nyirubugara, www.olny.nl Editor

Olivier Nyirubugara, Editor www.olny.nl
©O. Nyirubugara,October 2006

On September 11, 2008, Zimbabwe’s leader Robert Mugabe and his political rival Morgan Tsvangirai reached a political agreement, thereby putting an end to an electoral dispute that started some months before. In late June 2008, when Mugabe was feeling at last the timid pressure from his African peers demanding the postponement of the 29 June one-horse race, he replied with a rather strong challenge that pushed the peers to the corner and rendered them speechless. Mugabe said: “We have never interfered in their domestic affairs. Never ever. And now we want a country which wants to point a finger at us and say ‘you have done wrong’. I want to see that finger and see whether it’s clean or dirty”. None of the African leaders who were all getting ready for the 30 June – 1 July 2008 African Union summit in Egypt, reacted to that challenge. Six months before, a situation almost similar to Zimbabwe’s had occurred in Kenya, where the electoral process ended with two self-proclaimed winners who reached a power sharing agreement after bloodshed. Are polls still the only way to get or stick to power or are post-electoral talks becoming the standard? Are these failed electoral processes heralding a new leadership style in Africa? Are current constitutional reforms granting life presidency and a worriless retirement part of that new era? Or is this just a temporary crisis that will not stop the democratisation process that started in the early 1990s?

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Mandela’s legacy: building on sacrifice

(Olivier Nyirubugara)

Olivier Nyirubugara, www.olny.nl Editor

Olivier Nyirubugara, Editor www.olny.nl
©O. Nyirubugara,October 2006

On 18 July 2008 I was discussing with a Dutch young journalist about Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday, and how world media had extensively covered it. I asked him why such simple an event should mobilize world and South African media. ‘He is the greatest living hero in the world’, said the colleague. A debate ensued. ‘What did Mandela do to be called a hero?’ I asked. The colleague could not find a quick answer. After reflection he said that Mandela had allowed South Africa to become a multiracial tolerant society by not advocating revenge by the formerly oppressed black community. I asked if Mandela had any choice after all without full control over the country’s powerful and white-dominated army, police, judiciary and many other key sectors. Some even would say that justice was not served as criminals received a general amnesty without even appearing to court and confessing their crimes. It can be compared to the Nazi negotiating and obtaining a peaceful surrender after killing millions, simply because they are still powerful and thus harmful if worried. My aim below is not to challenge Mandela’s outstanding status but rather to study his political legacy that could likely inspire modern-day African leaders.

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Joachim Chissano’s legacy: Pragmatism and compromise

(Olivier Nyirubugara)

Olivier Nyirubugara, www.olny.nl Editor

Olivier Nyirubugara, Editor www.olny.nl
©O. Nyirubugara,October 2006

In October 2007, former Mozambique’s president Joachim Alberto Chissano (1986-2005) was rewarded by the Ibrahim Mo Foundation for his role in building a modern democratic Mozambique. Chissano voluntarily stepped down in 2005 while he could have run for another term without readjusting the Constitution. Until then, only Tanzanian Julius Nyerere (in 1962 as Prime Minister and in 1985 as president), Senegalese Lépold Sédar Senghor (in 1980), and South African Nelson Mandela (in 1999) had voluntarily retired, while the prevailing systems (state party, dominant, and a constitution allowing two-terms, respectively) allowed them to stay on power. Some would say that Beninese Mathieu Kérékou and Zambian Kenneth Kaunda had also done so in 1991. It’s true but both Kérékou and Kaunda courageously but not voluntarily retired from office as they conceded defeat to their opponents. I would like firstly to explore Chissano’s leadership legacy and, secondly, to understand his voluntary retirement from the political scene.

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African Leadership: The Shaping and the Shapers

(Olivier Nyirubugara)

Olivier Nyirubugara, www.olny.nl Editor

Olivier Nyirubugara, Editor www.olny.nl
©O. Nyirubugara,October 2006

In late June 2008, when Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe was feeling at last the timid pressure from his African peers demanding the postponement of the 29 June one-horse race, he replied with a rather strong challenge that pushed the peers to the corner and rendered them speechless. Mugabe said: “We have never interfered in their domestic affairs. Never ever. And now we want a country which wants to point a finger at us and say ‘you have done wrong’. I want to see that finger and see whether it’s clean or dirty”. [1] None of the African leaders who were all getting ready for the 30 June – 1 July 2008 African Union summit in Egypt, reacted to that challenge. They even let Mugabe sit among them and none questioned his legitimacy. Some would hasten to say that the Zimbabwe case was an accident, an exception that should never be generalised. However, facts would contradict those as the Zimbabwe electoral scandal came less than six months after an almost similar situation in Kenya, where the electoral process ended with two self-proclaimed winners who came to a power sharing agreement after bloodshed. Are these failed electoral processes heralding a new leadership style in Africa? Are current constitutional reforms granting life presidency to aging leaders part of that new era? Or is this just a temporary crisis that will not stop the democratisation process that started in the early 1990s? This essay explores leadership in post-independence Africa, highlighting the most representative and leading figures and their leadership styles. I will first discuss the period that immediately preceded and followed independences in the 50s and 60s. Then I will explore leadership in post-colonial Africa before considering the transition to democracy. I will end up with a quick discussion about modern Africa heroes whose leadership is full of inspiration.

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Africa goes mobile: The coming of the InPhonation era

(Olivier Nyirubugara)

Olivier Nyirubugara, www.olny.nl Editor

Olivier Nyirubugara, www.olny.nl Editor

Olivier Nyirubugara, Editor www.olny.nl
©O. Nyirubugara, April 2008

In the last decade of the 20th century communication technologies made tremendous progress especially with the birth of the World Wide Web (www) that transformed the whole planet into a small village. Other communication sectors, namely telecom, followed with the birth and proliferation of mobile phones. With most countries having rudimentary landlines for major cities and only for the rich, Africa managed to catch the train where it was. The result is that in the first decade of the 21st century, millions of Africans own modern mobile phones without having known or used a landline. In that very period, it appeared that the mobile phone could go beyond its traditional function of ‘phoning’. This essay aims to explore how the mobile phone has taken up one other function, namely the one of ‘inphoning’, understood as ‘informing with a phone’. I will first place the inphonation notion in the historical communication context. Then I will look at it more specifically from the African context. Finally I will focus on a case study that I consider to be the pioneer of the InPhonation era in Africa.

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Citizen Journalism: From ‘U’ to ‘O’ model

(Olivier Nyirubugara)

U-to-O shift: From journalist -to- news consumer model to generator-consumer model. ©O. Nyirubugara

Africa is traditionally said to always lag far behind other continents. At least this is the image that most media reflect in their reports. My point of view is that Africa has been lagging far but is now skipping intermediary steps to reach the current development stage where first world and second world countries are at this moment. And this principle will guide near future development projects in Africa. The information sector is steadily moving towards newly born citizen journalism, thereby skipping the traditional information chain that starts with a journalist who reports news and ends with a public who consume that news. My reflection here will turn around the move from this U model to the closed O model where the public reports and consumes news. My position as content coordinator for one of Africa Interactive’s platform known as africanews.com between June 2007 and August 2008 has put me on the other side of the news-production chain where my task was to interact not only with African professional journalists but also with citizen journalists.

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