Saturday, July 28, 2012

Naive Interview by CNN

CNN interviewed His Excellency Paul Kagame the other day. In a typical Western-style interview, the correspondent asked numbers of de-contextualized questions, almost prideful in showing ignorance of the historical, political context of, among other things, Rwanda's involvement in Congo. One series of questions centered on the ridiculous querying of President Kagame about his picture hanging some hotels in Kigali. The correspondent made fun of the President by saying that she had only seen such photos itotalitarianan countries. I certainly recall seeing such photos in Kigali, but I can't say I recall seeing them in other areas of the country, though it is certainly possible. But it certainly was not irksome. And it is nothing like photos and images of "Dear Leader." Really, for a mzunga reporter to "confront" the leader of a country this way is more than silly -- it is disrespectful and offensive. Faced with query about Kagame's margin of victory in the last election, Kagame tried to compare Rwanda with the US, presumably the latter being the paragon of democracy. Kagame struggled to make an argument along the following lines: if in the US voter participation is something like 60 percent, and if say Obama wins 51 percent of the electorate, then the democracy and the leader of the free world has something like 30 percent confirmed backing. Yet, the reporter would say that the US President is the democratically legitimated leader of the US, but the implied argument Kagame was making was that while given the current context the US President is legitimate. As Kagame was emphasizing, context is important.

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