Stories from Quick Reads and Rwanda
Don Osborne discusses a news feature on the Olivet Nazarene University website showing a map of “The Second Most Spoken Languages Around the World.” He points out key problems from the map:
The first issue is assuming that “The most spoken language in any country is often obvious; usually, it’s the official language of the country.” In Africa this often is not the case, if by “most spoken” one counts number of speakers. An example is Mali, whose linguistic profile was explored on this blog in discussing the long-tail of languages – Bambara is certainly more used than the official French.
Official language is a category that doesn't lend itself to ranking use of languages in Africa, beyond the (admittedly important) context of official use and its spillover to popular use. In the case of two countries at least, this runs into additional problems:
•South Africa has 11 official languages (the Olivet site incorrectly lists only one of them – Zulu – as official). So one of the official languages will be second most spoken. Perhaps that is Xhosa as indicated, but the model focusing on official languages hasn't worked here.
•Rwanda has three official languages (Kinyarwanda, French, and English), and Central African Republic two (Sango and French). Since the site doesn't consider these official languages in discussing second most widely spoken, it is reduced to stating that Swahili is “second” most used in Rwanda, and that indigenous languages are used in CAR – which doesn't tell us much.
Read part 2 of his discussion here.
Susan Thomson discusses Rwanda’s Twittergate in the context of disinformation campaign by Rwanda's president Paul Kagame:
Rwanda’s Twitter-gate raises questions about the central role of RPF Twitter-trolls in calling out foreign journalists who seek to hold it to account for its excesses at home and abroad. President Kagame’s reactionary tweets provide insight into the political reality behind his government’s carefully crafted narrative that Rwanda is a nation rehabilitated from the ruin of the 1994 genocide. Twitter-gate is also illustrative of the harassment and intimidation to which critics of the RPF regime regularly experience.
Twitter-gate is the first crack in the armor of the RPF’s longstanding disinformation campaign that has relied on exchange students, public relations firms, commemorative events, and a whole host of other techniques to craft an idealized and often invented version of what Rwanda was like before the onset of colonialism and what it has become since the 1994 genocide.
Since 2009, the RPF has worked with American and British PR specialists whose primary task is to drown out the voices of foreign critics and bury evidence of the RPF’s human rights abuses under rosy language about political stability, economic growth, and the stated intention of helping the poor. In January, Rwanda launched the Kwibuka20 campaign, from inside Kagame’s office of course, for the same instrumental reason: to substitute the trope of genocide for the trope of authoritarianism in narratives about Rwanda.
A group of young volunteers from southern Germany, many of whom have lived in Africa, are calling for photos, essays, videos, blog posts or poems by locals of five major African cities: Lagos, Addis Ababa, Gaborone, Kigali and Kinshasa.
With a forthcoming exhibition called “Sichtwechsel,” their goal is to show another face of Africa than what typically appears in German media — modern, urban, rapidly developing societies.
See their website at Missing-Images.com in English, French and German. The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2014.
Following Burundi President Nkurunziza's announcement of his candidacy for a third term (unconstitutional by Burundi's existing law), a massive humanitarian crisis has hit the country as at least 50,000 refugees have fled the country after scenes of violence were reported in several cities. The occurrence of violence were often posted on social media platforms first under the hashtags #burundichaos or #sindumuja. The following infographic sums up the refugees situation as of May 8:
— Jamii Forums (@JamiiForums) May 9, 2015
As Rwanda pays tribute to the victims of the genocide 20 years after the tragedy, President Kagame states again that France must “face up to the difficult truth” of its role in the 1994 genocide [fr]. As a result of this statement, France has pulled out of the commemorative events and former Foreign Affairs Minister of France demands that president Hollande defends the Honor of France and its army. Rémi Noyon at French site Rue 89 lists the reasons why Rwanda accuses again France of aiding the genocide [fr] :
1) La France va « de facto » prendre le commandement de l’armée rwandaise face au rebelles du Front patriotique rwandais (FPR).
2) La France craint alors que l’offensive tutsi ne soit télécommandée via l’Ouganda par les Anglo-saxons, et ne vise à enfoncer un coin dans l’influence de la France sur la région
3) La France ne semble pas s’intéresser outre mesure aux négociations de paix.
4) Les soldats n’embarquent pas le personnel tutsi présent à l’ambassade de France (sauf une personne). Ils seront tous massacrés.
5) Quant à l’opération Turquoise, elle continue à diviser : elle a certainement permis de sauver des vies tutsi, mais l’armée est accusée d’être restée passive – et donc complice – face aux atrocités.
1) France commanded some branches of the Rwandan army against the rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).
2) France feared that the Tutsi offensive was remotely piloted via Uganda by anglophone countries and was intended to drive a wedge into the influence of France in the region.
3) France did not seem overly interested in peace negotiations before the conflict.
4) The soldiers did not evacuate any of the Tutsi staff present at the Embassy of France (except for one person). They ended all being killed.
5) As for Operation Turquoise, it continues to divide: it certainly saved Tutsi lives, but the army is accused of having remained passive – and therefore was accomplice – to the atrocities.
MsGeekRW is a competition for Rwandan women encouraging them to showcase their knowledge and skills in ICT. The event was held during 2014's International Women's Day on March 8, 2014. The event shortlisted the following 5 best ICT solutions:
3. Item Locator
French humorist Nicolas Canteloup has come under fire for a sketch making light of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda [fr]. Following the outrage, Mr Canteloup has yet to apologize for the sketch. Audrey Kucinskas, a blogger for the Plus asks the logical question: “can anything be a laughing matter?” [fr]:
Rire du génocide rwandais, ça me dépasse. Vous vous souvenez qu'en 1994, plus d'un million de personnes ont été torturées, violées et assassinées ? Ça vous fait rire ?
Joking about the Rwandan genocide is beyond me. Do you remember in 1994 when more than a million people were tortured, raped and murdered? It was a riot, wasn't it ?
The president of CRAN, Louis-George Tin believes the sketch is totally unacceptable [fr]:
Quand il s'agit des Noirs, à l'évidence, on peut tout se permettre. Mais il est temps que cela cesse. Ce soi-disant humour masque mal une forme extrême de mépris et d'abjection. Devant le crime contre l'humanité, esclavage, Shoah, Rwanda, on ne rit pas, on fait silence.
When it comes to black people, it seems that again, anything goes. But it is time to put an end to that. This so-called humor barely hides an extreme form of contempt and prejudice. When it comes to crime against humanity, slavery, the Holocaust and Rwanda, we do not laugh, we just ought to stay silent.
Dapa Arnaud gives a list of the 10 most active african presidents [fr] on social media. At the top of the list is president Paul Kagame in Rwanda:
In place since 2003, the president of Rwanda is the most active on the internet. According to the Ecofin agency, Paul Kagame interacts with many users on Twitter through his account @PaulKagame. His personal website named “The Journey Continues, Dukomeze Imihigo” is also one of the most visited websites in the country. His presence is also quite strong on other social media sites such as Facebook, Google+, Flickr or YouTube.