Tag Archives: Rwanda

A New Rap Mogul?

Do you recognize this man?

No? Well he’s the newest hip-hop/rap sensation to hit the international scene. He’s also Uganda‘s President.

Rap video

Yoweri Museveni has been the President of Uganda since 1986. He was one of the guerrilla leaders that ousted Idi Amin and then fought against the Obote Regime. He quickly gained support from the West. Under his leadership, Uganda’s economy rapidly grew and the country was improving and Uganda mounted one of the more successful responses to HIV/AIDS.

Much like previous and contemporary African rulers and Presidents, Museveni enjoyed success and widespread support in his early years, but as time passed, his benevolent style of leadership slowly changed.

In 1996, the first free elections under Museveni’s leadership were held. Museveni won. Don’t worry, international observers said the election was free and fair. As his first elected term as President was coming to an end, he stated that the 2001 campaign would be his last run for President. It made sense that Museveni would gracefully bow down from the political scene because Uganda was no longer the celebrated African nation it had once been.

Museveni reached his international political pinnacle in 1998 when President Clinton visited the country. Of course this visit came too late, Museveni’s decline into the all too familiar story of African benevolent President becoming authoritarian strong-hands had already begun.

The first signs of Museveni’s and Uganda’s decline occurred when Tutsi rebel forces that would eventually slaughter thousands of Hutus invaded Rwanda from Uganda. Kagame, the Tutsi established leader of Rwanda was a former Museveni fighter. In 1998, the same year that President Clinton visited, Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo to finish the slaughtering of Hutus who had fled across the border and to assist the CIA overthrow the President of Zaire.

By the way, his re-election in 2001 was marked with considerable increases in violence, especially aimed at opposition leaders. The 2001 elections were not free and fair, the results were taken to Uganda’s Supreme Court and all five judges recognized irregularities and illegalities, but three of the judges believed that such issues did not ultimately change the outcome of the election. Museveni won and the Supreme Court ratified his victory.

As his second term unfolded, Museveni continued to restrict opposition movements and by 2006, Museveni had changed Uganda’s constitution in order to eliminate Presidential term limits.

Obviously he won re-election since he’s running again. Elections are to be held in February 2011. In his newest political stunt, Museveni has released the rap video. It is aimed at garnering support from the youth of Uganda. Maybe it will work, maybe the youth are too young and blind to his past infractions, lies and evil deeds, but maybe it won’t. Either way it’s time for the African Union and the United States to take a stand against the practice of writing Constitutional amendments that either increase of eliminate term limits; but then again, with the United States primarily focused on the prevention of Islamic fundamentalist gaining power, keeping Museveni in power may not be such a terrible thing.

As the bearer of Democratic ideals, philosophy and law, shouldn’t the U.S. be interested and at least semi-involved in providing guidance and correction for the democratic process in all countries and not just the Islamic world?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. According to Uganda’s law, homosexuals can be sentenced to prison anywhere from 14 years to life; but that’s not it, lawmakers have proposed a new bill that adds the death penalty as a legal punishment for homosexuality. Still think the United States shouldn’t be more involved?

Being the super power in a unipolar world implies such responsibilities. The U.S. has the responsibility and duty to promote and ensure free and fair elections throughout the world. But of course there will always be set backs (Palestine) to pushing for free, fair and democratic rule.

Violence in Africa

Recently upwards of 200 people were slaughtered in a Nigerian village. Muslims were seeking revenge for killings Christians in the community had carried out against Muslims back in January. This was just a recent event in an increasing slew of violence in Africa targeting civilians and not military targets. Jeffrey Gettleman recently suggested that this is the path forward in African violence since armed groups have lost their direction and de-focused their aims and goals.

I agree that this has happened in some parts, but it is a radical blanket statement that doesn’t apply to numerous battles in Africa. Possibly the most famous ongoing conflict is Somalia. There were six feuding clans and it’s a pretty safe statement to say they were and often continue fighting for a purpose. Yes, pirating has resulted from the ongoing conflict, but it is a farce to claim that the widespread violence is just a sham to continue black-market illegal activities. Different tribes are fighting for control over the current central government. Al-Shabab, possibly the most famous insurgent group in Africa, wants to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state in Somalia. Sounds like the main groups doing the fighting have a linear focus that they continue to adhere to, but those who have been marginalized by the fighting have turned to illegal activities.

Rebel groups in the Niger Delta continue to fight for their rights as human beings. They live on the oil and resource rich delta region, yet continue not to see the benefits of mining and exporting these resources. The tribal groups have been forced to the fringes of society and often have their human rights violated. Their continuous rebellion was brought to a cease-fire by President Umaru Yar’Adua, but even before he fell ill, Yar’Adua fell through on his promises and economic development projects that had been agreed upon in return for a halt in violence so the Niger Delta rebels called off the cease-fire.

Unfortunately, many of the conflicts in Africa have shifted from traditional war to ethnic conflicts and thus have resulted in rape becoming a common weapon. Rape has become an acceptable tactic because it not only demoralizes the opposing tribes and groups, it also ensures the supposed elimination of the “other” and continues the bloodline of the rapist. It is a sick and brutal tactic and one that should not exist and should be punished to the harshest degree, but it is not what Gettleman suggests – just a brutal violation of a woman’s rights and an act of crime. Yes, sometimes it is simply an act of crime, but it is primarily a sick and gruesome war tactic.

Maybe if the US government and other Western powers publicly addressed the conflicts in Africa or had reacted appropriately to Rwanda and Darfur, the devolution of traditional battle would not be the increasing issue it is today.