Because Congolese singer-songwriter Barbara Kanam has a garden of love that she wants to share with you:
Monthly Archives: February 2010
1. Head of MONUC claims the UN mission has not ‘signed a pact with the devil‘; less clear on relationship with purgatory.
2. Andrew Mwenda asks if Rwandan oppositional candidate Ingabire will be Rwanda’s saviour, or at least bring back cheese and mustard next time she travels from Belgium.
3. Sarkozy apologizes for French involvement in the Rwandan genocide; Kagame thanks France in English.
4. Horrible drought in Burundi leaves people very, very thirsty.
5. Thomas Lubanga’s lawyers request witnesses testify via video conferencing from eastern DRC; webcams purchased for everyone in the Congo!
After three years of broken diplomatic relations, French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrives in Kigali today. It is the first time a French president has landed on Rwandan soil since the genocide in 1994 and an attempt to reinvigorate ties:
Speaking to journalists in Kigali, President Paul Kagame confirmed that the visit was on and that it had “implications on how we carry forward this relationship (between France and Rwanda).”
Now that diplomatic ties have been renewed with both countries sending their respective envoys to each other, there is a general feeling in Rwanda that the continued failure by the French to own up and apologise for their failures could derail full restoration of Franco-Rwanda relations.
According to the French press, the stake in the rapprochement between the two countries is more cultural than economic.
However, renewed Franco-Rwandan relations are not about cultural and diplomatic reconciliation. They are about failed politics.
The French have all but lost their economic stronghold in Sub-Saharan Africa and are trying to finagle their way back in. Sarkozy is trying to patch up the policy pitfalls of Mitterand and Chirac, but lacks the influence or impact. Kouchner, Sarko’s Africa man, thinks everything is a humanitarian crisis and doesn’t have the political savvy to engage countries that haven’t been hit by disaster in a mutually beneficial way. Sarkozy’s two-stop Africa trip to Gabon and Rwanda, an oil producer and extractive resource powerhouse respectively, illustrates the bluntly forward and increasingly ineffective French agenda in Africa.
On the other hand, the Kagame administration is smug with the visit. Now that they are a commonwealth country, they don’t need to worry about French patronage politics. Rather, Kagame can use the two countries tumultuous relations to shift focus from Commonwealth Election Monitors and human rights criticism of the regime back to Kagame’s favored arena of genocide politics. In their meeting today, Sarkozy and Kagame are scheduled to discuss genocide fugitives living in France and ways to ‘work past’ the French indictment of Kagame for purportedly killing Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana. Moreover, bringing back the French into the equation might symbolically quell internal Rwandan frustration over the quick Anglicization of the country. Either way, Kagame gets to dictate the rhetorical agenda.
The likely outcome of the meeting: Sarkozy goes home with his tail between his legs as the French continue their failed Africa policy and Kagame gains more control over this week’s political agenda in Rwanda. The underlying benefit: Kagame most likely convinced Sarkozy to bring him a fruit basket.
Update: Graham at KigaliWire pointed out that Sarkozy is stopping in other African countries as well. However, France is not following the list supplied by the Tanzanian Daily nation. France has added Mali and skipped over Equatorial Guinea, in a confusing and bizarre move that reveals more floundering than cohesion.
The Rwandan Development Board has decided to diversify the country’s tourism by adding a 202 kilometer trail along the eastern shore of Lake Kivu. Because every Great Lakes country needs to claim a spot where the Nile starts:
The 8-day by foot and 3-day by vehicle trail to be known as the Congo-Nile Trail which snakes along the shores of Kivu is being developed by RDB in collaboration with United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and SNV Rwanda.
The trail also covers historical heritage sites including Gihaya Island which had the residence of King Baudouin of Belgium as well as Richard Kandt’s residence at Ishangi, Rusizi District.
It will also comprise of a boat cruise on the Kivu in the new Umunezero Boat acquired by RDB.
Much like the Oregon Trail computer game, tourists trekking this new adventure will cross mountains, rivers, and hunt and when they arrive at the end-point where the Nile Basin separates from the Congo Basin, they will be greeted by onomatopoeic sounds “BANG,” “WHAM,” and “POW.”
MICROCON’s leading academic sextuplet, Maarten Voors, Eleonora Nillesen, Philip Verwimp, Erwin Bulte, Robert Lensink and Daan van Soest recently tried to figure out how conflict changes long-term behavior. Using experimental data from 35 randomly selected villages in Burundi, the team finds that besides systematic violence and destruction, war isn’t that bad in the long-term:
The main objective of this paper is to examine the causal effect of exposure to violence on behavior in economic experiments in which payoffs vary between choices across three dimensions: timing, riskiness, and social consequences. Do victims of conflict behave more pro-socially, do they have a higher propensity to invest in the future, and are they more prone to taking risks? We try to answer this important question by pulling together survey and new experimental data from Burundi.
Our results strongly suggest that exposure to violence affects behavior – possibly via altering preferences. We find that individuals who have either experienced violence themselves, or who live in communities that have been violently attacked, display more altruistic behavior, are more risk seeking, and act less patiently. Our results are robust across several specifications, and are obtained for both experimental and observational data. We believe they shed important new light on post-war recovery processes by speaking against overly pessimistic views on the destructive long-term consequences of civil war.
The paper does an excellent job of challenging assumptions about how violence alters behavior and is a great read for anybody working in post-conflict reconstruction and development.
2. Rwanda splurges on luxury jets for Government; official statement claims ownership of luxury jets new development metric for post-conflict countries.
2. IMF disburses 10 million USD to Burundi; martinis on the beach for everyone!
3. French envoy to DRC kicks off Economic Community of the Great Lakes Region Conference; hints that community is missing the “economic” part.
4. DRC slaps mining companies with additional taxes; miners forced into low-pay labor now out of jobs.
5. Tanzania Daily Press produces worst article title ever: “Local Tennis Stars Eye Rwanda Scalp.”