Mr. Sebarenzi Goes to Kigali

Joseph Sebarenzi, former speaker of the Rwanda House of Parliament, current exile with a soapbox on which he rants politically, just wrote a new book, God Sleeps in Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation. The subtitle could also be, Man Paul Kagame, You’re Harsh.  A recent interview with NPR went something like this:

NPR:  President of Paul Kagame has been lauded by world leaders as an example model of a stable African leader.  You are very very critical of Paul Kagame in this book, almost accusing him of exercising dictatorial powers.

Joseph Sebarenzi:  It’s a understated actually. He is an autocrat. Just to give you some example, you never hear from Rwanda a political leader now who can stand an oppose any given policy. You don’t have that. You don’t have people go out and protest government policy, you are not allowed.

NPR:  But aren’t government leaders dealing with issues of reconciliation that will prevent a future genocide from occurring?

Joseph Sebarenzi:  No, if you look at Rwanda today, underneath, its boiling…

Or, in other words, boo ya, post-genocidal reconciliation agenda that masks political repression and quashes free speech.

Sebarenzi’s book challenges the dominant narrative about how awesome Paul Kagame is and how well Rwanda works. As the third highest ranking government official in 1997, he has unique insight on contemporary politics in Rwanda. Importantly, his book does something not yet out there and accessible in mainstream literature on Rwanda : it chronicles the childhood of a Tutsi who ultimately, and explicitly, comes to condemn the current regime.

So, grab his book, a coke, and a smile.



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3 responses to “Mr. Sebarenzi Goes to Kigali

  1. susan

    indeed! any one who cares about peace and security in Rwanda in particular and the GLR more broadly needs to read this book to counteract the congratulatory and widely-available works from Kinzer and others.

    Academics working on the country (and the region) are well aware of Mr Kagame’s shortcomings (or should I say skill) as a dictatorial leader.

    I only hope Sebarenzi’s book is given its due as it is likely to be dismissed by those in Kigali as a case of sour-grapes…

  2. grant

    Absolutely. I think you are right – academics and some of the more prominent research institutes are very aware of the regime’s policies. The disconnect between the development industry and mainstream, which have privileged Rwanda as a development playboy, and academia is unfortunate.

    Hopefully, this book will start to counteract the mythological image of Rwanda in the mainstream.


    You are quite true my ex-president or parliament.
    But you missed out a very important thing,it is that the whole world is being blind in Kagame’s backwardness. Please ,don’t follow this unskilled-man.

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