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.