Food & Society

Is democracy a Whiteman’s issue?

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By Robert Mugabe

Ambassador Susan Rice

One day in the hills of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo a governor was visiting the rural area in the out skirts of Goma town, one local gentleman asked Governor Paruku, “Nasikia bwana anaitwa ndemocrasi, uyu ndemokrasi mobutu alisema, akakufa bila kumuleta, Papa Desire kabila akasema atamuleta, sasa Presida wetu Joseph Kabila Kabange atamutowa Kinshasa kumuleta apa Goma sikugani?”

Literary, the man was asking, “This man called Democracy whom Mobutu said will bring, until he died, then Desire Kabira said he is bringing him, butaal in vain, now when is our President Joseph Kabila Kabange going to bring him from Kinshasa to Goma?” He asked

Simply this man had perceived that Democracy is a person. And was asking when this man (Democracy) whom Mobutu and others talked about, when is coming to Goma.

Democracy is universal. The definition of the word differs, while some  people argue that the context  also differs from country to country, society to society and cannot be similar to individual understanding, thus suggesting that the word Democracy itself is relative, and is not enough and therefore, another word is needed to fill in. But do we really need them?

Theories are many, but, let’s look at the most used “responsible democracy” that needs the word responsibility to come in as the word to fit in the democracy we should all respect and wish for our societies. To the people who believe in the theory, claim that depending on the situation and experiences of some countries mainly in Africa great lakes region, democracy needs to be a process and dictated.

For instance, People have the freedom and a right to freedom of expression but be able to explain what they said when they are called by the authorities. In democracy, people are not supposed to be dictated upon to make well informed decisions. These countries go as far as have elections dictated.

Commenting on Rwanda’s development efforts, during her recent visit in Rwanda, the US ambassador to UN; Susan Rice highly praised Rwanda’s development and finger-pointed a critical issue of Rwanda’s Democracy citing lack of freedom of the press and political space, hence weak civil society.

President Paul Kagame was quick to respond during community work (Umuganda) saying “in Rwanda, every one speaks what they want and gets the response.”

Now, this is the same country that has a high number of journalists who fled their mother country as a result of intimidation, harassment and court threats to which some still have the cases to answer. Though some people back home say mockingly that the scribes fled in pursuit for the greener pastures.

This is the same Rwanda where an editor is in prison for 17years, following the controversial publications that the court believes were inciting the public to raise against the government, inciting divisionism, mobilizing the local people shun from the government programs and defaming the person of the President in her Umurabyo news paper.

Then to me, this is what some might call “responsible democracy” active in Rwanda. I think it is in my duty to remind our beloved country men that infrastructure without participation of the community becomes as the saying goes, “what I did not participate in is not mine.”

Allow me to borrow the example of our neighboring Country, DR Congo. Former Zaire, during Mobutu’s era, the city of Kinshasa was considered to be one of the cleanest and beautiful cities of the World.

Then when it comes to Desire Kabila’s regime, the city’s tall flats, Congolese were cooking inside these applauded houses of the big and clean city of Kinshasa using fire woods. Actually, one would see the smoke rising from these six and ten story houses.

At the airport of Goma, the community was also cooking at the paved run away. Kinshasa city that was the pride of Zaire became a home of people who can’t think of the value of towers they are living in. their ambition was freedom and other development activities come next.

To my understanding, re-building the country, one will need to balance economical, political and social development. As the plane needs two wings to fly, therefore, the country needs economical development and social political development at the same time.

Democracy that almost every person here sings about is rooted in the fundamental rights of a very human being. A very human has the right to speak, to be heard, to assemble, to participate in leadership, to shelter, to have his opinion…and have food and develop at the same time.

If Rwanda wants to measure, weather we have press freedom and political space, very simple, check into our prisons, if you have journalists and politicians. Check on your list, if you have exiled politicians or journalist? To my knowledge, yes Rwanda, you have journalists in the prison, yes Me Ntaganda Bernard is in prison, and Victoire Ingabire is still in the courts of law.

Rwanda is among the countries in Africa with high numbers of journalists living in exile. Many of them, if not all went with cases in judicially. Surprisingly, some experts believe that most of those cases are political than legal.  Though in Rwanda’s culture has got some degree of discouragement to the freedom of speech, all restrictions to the freedom is not necessary and should not entertained in a free society.

This post has already been read 40992 times!



  1. Mureithi

    December 5, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    I am American living in Kenya. I found the examples used in this article to really drive the writer’s point home. I never thought of democracy other than what I know from America and the West. This has opened up my eyes that democracy can, does, and will continue to carry a contextual understanding. Thank you.

  2. Kupata Wa Matano

    December 5, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    Am a Kenyan and since the events in our country after the 2007 elections it is critical in our definition and acceptance of democracy that the winners of any election process in our country should not simply rely on first past the post or simplistic views of who wins governs, rather a more accomodating defination of democracy that avoids the Tyranny of the masses.Our clan,tribal and regional sentiments have to be taken into consideration,distribuition of resources and wealth creation all form or should form our defination of democracy.

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