"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


this qualifies as a hissy fit

Rwanda's New Times editorial board is not happy with Filip Reyntjens:
A self-styled "expert on Rwanda", Filip Reyntjens is a combination of controversies that embodies every negative thought against Rwanda.

It's a matter of public record that Prof. Reyntjens wielded tremendous influence in Rwanda under the client regimes whose ideology culminated into the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

...He is evidently still fixated with the divisive ideologies that are responsible for destruction of the Great Lakes region

Nowhere is this more visible than in the latest publication he co-directed with two of his university colleagues ; L'Afrique de grand lacs.

He manages to duplicate the racist legacy that is informed by the never ending Belgian feud (Wallons vs Flemish conflict) into the Great Lakes context.

He has listed senior government leaders in Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC, under the presumed tribal affiliations as assigned by the Belgian Colonialists. Predictably, the list was first mailed to known Genocide revisionists who were all too happy to circulate it on the internet.

Reyntjens and his ilk should learn to lick their wounds and retire in some remote Flemish village they understand best.
Reyntjens, of course is one of the most respected scholars of central Africa, and the Afrique des Grands Lacs series is an outstanding annual volume of new research on the region. Reyntjens is a brilliant scholar with a long and remarkable record of publications. He has done extensive fieldwork throughout the Great Lakes and sends out armies of graduate students to gather more data every year. There are few people who know the region as well as Reyntjens does, and unlike most who study the area, he was studying there prior to the genocide. Because of this expertise, he was able to publish some of the first work on the genocide very quickly thereafter. There is, in short, no reason to assume that Reyntjens doesn't know what he's writing about when it comes to Rwanda.

So why is the New Times so mad at him? Probably because Reyntjens, like every other serious senior scholar of the region, has published material that points out the Kagame administration's role in creating some of the region's chronic instability.

It's important to note that the New Times has no credibility as a journalistic institution. Everyone, including most Rwandans who read it, understands that it is simply a propaganda outlet for the Rwandan government. I will give them that criticism of Reyntjens is entertaining (because clearly the Hutu-Tutsi dynamic of violence could only be a projection of Flemish-Walloon tensions). But Reyntjens is just another target for the frustration of a regime that knows its donors no longer fully buy into the narrative of reconciliation and peace-building it has been selling for the last fifteen years. There's too much evidence that the RPF has engaged in some rather nasty activities itself. Donors are increasingly aware of the problem. Because of truthful analysis of the facts on the ground by scholars like Reyntjens and his students, the jig is up, and the RPF knows it.

I sincerely hope that the new generation of scholars of central Africa will live up to the legacy of seeking to explain and understand the truth about what happens in Rwanda, the DRC, Burundi, and Uganda. We owe Reyntjens and his generation nothing less.


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