News sources on Rwanda & the DRC

A thought continued from my last post: I think I tend to view outside “experts” (assign that term what value you will) as oft-credible sources of information about Rwandese politics in part because it’s difficult to get high-quality, objective information from within the country.  I’ve stopped reading the New Times, as it’s analytically not very helpful, and Rwanda Focus seems similarly uncritical.  Beyond Nkunda Rwanda I’ve found few active Rwandese bloggers.  If readers have links to additional resources, I’d love to hear about them.  (Congo, on the other hand, has a comparative wealth of local papers and several good blogs, all in French.)

There is also, I think, the question of what right foreigners have to be blithely writing about politics and conflict in central Africa.  It’s a fair query; after all, I only lived in the region for a year, in capitals both times, and my Kinyarwanda and Lingala/Swahili skills are negligible.  (My Tshiluba and Kikongo skills are totally non-existent.)  I make no claim of privileged information on my own behalf.  But that said, the entanglements of our globalized world are here to stay.  I have to believe that, as a foreigner, working towards more proximately accurate understandings of such complicated regions – responsibly, honestly, and self-critically – is in the end more useful than withdrawing from conversation.

Update as of April 5:

  • Via Tom of A View From the Cave, I’ve learned that Owen Barder has also written eloquently on the topic of privilege and African politics.  He reaches different conclusions, though.  Well-worth a read.
  • James Wilson links to FSI language programs in Lingala and Swahili.
  • Commentator zebrapad links to a useful Kinyarwanda vocab list.
  • Another Kinyarwanda resource is Speak Rwanda.

6 thoughts on “News sources on Rwanda & the DRC

  1. Owen Barder wrote on the topic of discussing politics as a foreigner awhile back. I will try to dig it up. He basically said what you have expressed in regards to an outsider making political commentary. As I remember, he said that he does not discuss or blog about Ethiopian politics because he does not believe that he should.

    This has me thinking even about development projects. One struggle I have as a blogger (and really extending to aid and development) is that my thoughts come from a perspective of privilege to the highest extreme. Try as I might, it will always be a part of me and inform the way I think. Awareness is a good asset, but it does not change reality.

    Keep up your great posts.

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    1. Hi Tom – thanks for the pointer about Owen’s post! (I found it: http://www.owen.org/blog/3431) He captures exactly what I was trying to get at, and I think I’ll edit my post to include a link to that one.

      It seems like the first step towards improving aid, or at least writing thoughtfully about the topic (as you do), inevitably has to be some reflection on privilege. Giving may be a burden or a sacrifice, but it’s also a profound privilege, right? I’m really glad there are people out there thinking this through critically and honestly.

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  2. Fascinating blog, keep up the good work. But how can you question whether you have the right to write? You have the right to write whatever the hell you want.

    On the other hand it sounds like it might be a good challenge for you if you’re interested in improving your language skills. Check out http://fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php?page=Lingala and http://fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php?page=Swahili if you’re serious about improving your Lingala and Swahili, for example.

    James Wilson

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    1. Hi James – thanks for your words of encouragement! I do think it’s true that one has the right to write whatever one wants – but there’s also a type of power that comes with having the ability (education, internet access, electricity, literacy, etc.) to do that, you know? So I figure it’s worthwhile to try to do it carefully.

      Also, thanks so much for the links to the Swahili & Lingala courses! They look great – might be my project over the summer…

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