Saturday, July 28, 2007

Top Ten Things I Learnt in Rwanda

1. Never break out in a chorus of the 80s' hit 'Don't Mess With my Hutu'
2. You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't
3. David Mundell's taste in shirts is similar to my taste in ties
4. I can exist without email on my Blackberry
5. Rwandan women are the best dressed in the world
6. France has a lot to answer for over the genocide
7. It feels safer in Kigali than in parts of London
8. No one in Britain understands the meaning of the word 'poverty'
9. It is possible for one person to make a difference
10. We should not try to impose our way of life on others

32 comments:

chatterbox said...

That is a good foundation from which a hopefully soon to be Conservative parliamentary candidate can build into a worthy Conservative MP.
But one piece of advice, don't stand next to David Mundell if a camera is about when your shirts and ties clash!

I thought that your Rwanda diary was excellent and inspiring to those that read it. I would not underestimate how valuable it was in reporting a really worthwhile endeavour which was at times undermined unfairly in the media and by the opposition.
Labour MP's at PMQ's should hang their heads in shame, but to do that they would have to understand how pathetic their behaviour was so soon after David Cameron's more statesman like gesture to his own backbenches when Tony Blair took his final bow at PMQ's just a few short weeks ago.
Also thought that you got the tone right in your Telegraph article.

Benedict White said...

Iain, yes we should not impose our way of life on other countries, they do things differently there and why not.

I also know, having run a small scale aid organisation whilst at university 9delivering aid to the former Yugoslavia during the war) that one person can make a difference.

However it is also the case that we need fair trade to Africa and indeed fair trade within Africa.

lakelander said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Ogg said...

How could number 10 be last? ????

The Bournemouth Nationalist said...

Ten things I learned about the Tories

1. Never break out into a chorus of Jerusalem
2.You're damned
3.David's taste in policy makes Brown look handsome
4. I can exist without the Tories, blackberries, internet access, water, a job, my freedom. But I can't exist without my children.
5. Tory women use botox and buy fake designer clothing on the back of african/asian slavery
6. Edward Heath has a lot to answer for as to the demise of this once great country
7. At night time it doesn't feel safe, ANYWHERE
8. No one in the Tory party understands the words, freedom, democracy, truth, identity, respect, self governance, independence, morality, responsibility, justice, loyalty.
9. It is possible for one person to shift the Tory party further left than labour.
10. Tories should not try to impose their way of life on others unless Rupert Murdoch says so

Wrinkled Weasel said...

If you just learned 8,9 and 10 then it was all worth it.

What a great opportunity to experience the two-thirds world.

Steven_L said...

'No one in Britain understands the meaning of the word 'poverty''

That's not true Iain, if abolishing tax credits appears in the next Tory manifesto I'll donate a whole months wages and experience a bit myself.

Manfarang said...

I hope you learnt how insular,provincial and inward looking people in England are.

Newmania said...

Cultural musings

Hutu

Hutu be

Hutu be a

Gooner

Newmania said...

I hope you learnt how insular,provincial and inward looking people in England are.

Less so than almost everywhere actually Manfarang , I haven`t noticed many Rwandans worrying about me lately ?
I am unimpressed by this sort of thing , the world is full of death suffering and violence . Thats why we want to keep it out and unless you are suggesting we import even more of Africas problems here so do you.

I think some exotic weevil has eaten your irony gland while you`ve been away Iain.Its all terribly impotant I`m sure but if I were to suggest you got by without an Audi and sent the cash to Rwanda you would not.Well then.....

No one in Britain understands the meaning of the word 'poverty'

PS Psssssst Teeny hint , might not be an awfully good idea for David Cameron to say this to anyone with his posh voice and sun tan...

Sackerson said...

Off topic, but important news (to me, at any rate): remember the laughs about Gordon Brown’s “post neo-classical endogenous growth theory”? It turns out this may be to New Labour what Keith Joseph’s espousal of monetarism was to Margaret Thatcher’s premiership.

“New growth theory” is by Paul Romer, and bears on:

.education (education, education)
.skills training for workforces (see spate of TV adverts recently)
.intellectual property rights (relevant to patent theft by foreign manufacturers).
.free trade/globalisation (okay, maybe not so far off topic after all).

I’ve blogged a bit about it yesterday, am working on more. It’s NOT a joke. Some intriguing aspects, but also a gift to the anti-big-business Left – get a flavour of it in an easy-to-understand 2001 interview with Romer here:
http://www.reason.com/news/show/28243.html

HM Stanley said...

Remember Reagan joke, after a trying meeting with Desmond Tutu...

Press: What about your meeting with Tutu?

Reagan: Tutu? So-So.

Manfarang said...

Newmania
Well I quite thought you exhibited a more neo-Kemalist outlook.

Windsor Tripehound said...

I'm a bit taken aback by the bile in some of the postings in this thread.

If these people no longer support the Conservative party, all I can say is: "lucky old Conservative party!".

Bob Piper said...

Iain,

10 very good lessons... but, Britain in the run up to the genocide was not exactly squeaky clean either. It was Sir David Hannay, Britain's ambassador to the UN, who proposed that the UN reduce its force from 2,500 to just over 10% of that figure in 1994 when the UN should have been adding to the force as the Hutus intentions were widely known then. The Nigerian ambassador pleaded at the security Council at the time for a larger force.

General Dallaire, commander of the UN force in Rwanda, was also asking for reinforcements and described what he saw as of "inexcusable apathy by the sovereign states that made up the UN, that is completely beyond comprehension and moral acceptability. My force was standing knee deep in mutilated bodies, surrounded by the guttural moans of dying people, looking into the eyes of dying children bleeding to death with their wounds burning in the sun and being invaded by maggots and flies".

So yes, the French should hold their heads in shame... but not just the French.

Richard Havers said...

Iain, linking your name to David Mundell's, in any way at all, will do you no good at all. He's a joke in Scotland.

Toque said...

I've not been to Rwanda but what I learnt in Ghana is that there's little point giving to charities or expecting Government to deliver.

Africans don't need charity, they need inward investment, political stability and fair trade.

Chris Paul said...

1. Despicable
2. So true; I agree DC had tgo go
3. Irrelevant trivialisation
4. Surprise?
5. Moot
6. As Bob says, not just France
7. Safer for tourists?
8. "No one in Britain understands the meaning of the word 'poverty'"
Absolutely ridiculous generalisation Iain. I understood at 17 at Prem Dam in Kolkatta.
9. Obviously, collectively there can be multipliers
10. "We should not try to impose our way of life on others"
Very true ... blog comments here will never be the same, vive la difference!

tapestry said...

thank you bob piper.

that's the talk that brings it home. and iain's report from kigali?

why is the west so interested now, but so disinterested before when something might have been done?

human nature is dreadful.

people kill each other in wars all over the world.

if it's out of sight, for others, it's out of mind.

i can see that the Rwanda trip had a purpose but I'm not quite sure what it was. could someone articulate what it was all about in one phrase or sentence?

or explain what will be better in future or could be done differently next time as a result of the visit.

I've not seen anything on BBC other than reading that cameron defended himself against hostile questioning.

They didn't tell us what he said about it though, which is pretty daft reporting. Do we have to go round asking what happened nowadays as the BBC has become so unable to do its job properly?

bgprior said...

Are the last three words of 6 not redundant?

What lack of imagination and sympathy requires a trip to Rwanda to realise 8, 9 and 10?

How about the importance of property rights, the impartial rule of law, free-markets, -speech and -press, small and efficient bureaucracies, strong democracy, the damage caused by corruption, etc, etc. Or were you too close, could only see the trees?

Louise said...

Tapestry - here's a sentence

"To stop it happening again"

C4' said...

6. France has a lot to answer for over the genocide
7. It feels safer in Kigali than in parts of London


Damn right, the irony being that socialist regimes across the English Channel are to blame for both.

Chuck Unsworth said...

I'm astounded. For the first - possibly only - time I have read a comment by Councillor Piper which actually resembles some sense, and maybe moderation.

He's absolutely right to highlight the mendacity of those who did not take action to stop the ghastly events in Rwanda. Indeed, those who condoned such terrible deeds by turning away from an obvious genocide are just as guilty as those carrying out the bloodshed and killings.

We should fully understand the lessons of such turpitude. I hope the current British Government does, and is prepared to accept blame for its failings, too. I am weary of reading of the continuing slaughter (of all parties) in Afghanistan and the Middle East in the name of 'freedom' and 'democracy'. There has to be a better way than trying to impose such noble concepts by force of arms.

Savonarola said...

Amongst other Top Ten howlers

#8 Poverty

Perhaps you meant "I didn't etc"

There are thousands who do, many of whom have given large chunks of their life and/or dosh to helping.

You sound like a 'one hit wonder' or one of the transient do gooders who wear the heart on the sleeve for a while before reverting to whatever.

Johnny Norfolk said...

I think we should leave these countries alone to sort themselves out. Trade but do not interfear or judge them by our standards.

Keep giving handouts as with our own people is wrong you should not get something for nothing.

Elliott said...

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't." Rubbish. Cameron should have stayed at home. The only ones damning him would have been a very few party members; nobody else would have noticed. And isn't he all for standing up to his party membership?

As it is, he's scored a huge PR own goal, passed up the opportunity to hold the government to account during a crisis and started whispers of a leadership contest. Damned indeed.

Realpolitik said...

"We should not try to impose our way of life on others."

I remember reading in an Open University book about a clash between women from the developed world and the developing world at an international feminist convention.

The developed world women were banging on about women's rights to contraception, abortions and having careers whilst the third world women were insisting on their right to be mothers and look after children, because being a mother in third world countries often carries great pride and status. The first world women behaved as if their opinions were innately superior whilst the third world women were appalled at the attitude of the first world women towards motherhood and children which they saw as being disrespectful and neglectful.

An eye opener for me that one.

John A said...

Well Iain lets see how well your heart bleeds:

Top Ten Things I Learnt in Rwanda

1. Never break out in a chorus of the 80s' hit 'Don't Mess With my Hutu'


Ah! A genocide joke. How lovely. He'll be cracking the Nazi joke box any time soon.

2. You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't

Only if you're already in hell.

3. David Mundell's taste in shirts is similar to my taste in ties

Well at least you can afford to have taste in clothing.

4. I can exist without email on my Blackberry

Its amazing what poverty can make you give up.

5. Rwandan women are the best dressed in the world

But they can't afford to change the one dress they have.

6. France has a lot to answer for over the genocide

The same goes for all colonial powers such as....

7. It feels safer in Kigali than in parts of London

When nobody owns anything, there's not much to steal. However if you'd have been around 13 years ago, I think you might have chosen London - oh you did. Good on you.

8. No one in Britain understands the meaning of the word 'poverty'

Not to worry. When DC introduces swingeing environmental taxes in order to combat "climate change", we lucky Brits will start being educated shortly after.

9. It is possible for one person to make a difference

...just so long as that one person has a lot of disposible income.

10. We should not try to impose our way of life on others

So why are you there, then? Frankly , if Rwandans were offered our way of life, you'd be crushed in the stampede.

Better luck next time.

Sea Shanty Irish said...

Iain,

Your activities in and reportage from Rwanda were GREAT.

Don't let the tin hat brigade and the Little Englanders who would like to be viceroys & district commissioners and other assorted begrudgers get you down.

You and your Blue buddies (the ones who did a lick or two of actual work) impressed a lot of folks, methinks . . . within Rwanda and without. And though the Loyal Empire League might not understand why, the sight of MPs (of whatever party) helping to build latrines was POSITIVE to Britain's image in Africa.

As for those who are critical re: your remarks on poverty, well, all I can say is that it is obvious they've never been to the 3rd World. Perhaps they should get out a bit more, and see how the other 2/3 of their sisters and brothers on this whirling rock of ours actually live.

As for responsibility for the genocide, well, think this is like Pogo used to say in the American comic strip: "We've met the enemy, and it is us." Yes, the French DO have a lot to answer for (a very murky and twisted story) BUT so do lots of others.

And that most definitely includes the USA - was certainly NOT the finest hour of the Clinton Administration OR the American people. But at least we did a wee bit better in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Would be interested in more of the RWANDAN perspective on these points.

Also, can you tell us a bit more about current interactions, etc between Hutus and Tutsis? Both what you heard and what you saw.

bgprior said...

SSI,

As for those who are critical re: your remarks on poverty, well, all I can say is that it is obvious they've never been to the 3rd World.

Some (most?) of us who criticised that comment have done so because we are very concerned about third-world poverty, not because we don't care or don't know what it's like. Caring means wanting a permanent, self-sustaining improvement in people's lot, not painting a shack for a couple of weeks. We know what is needed for African countries gradually to work and trade themselves out of poverty. Where in Iain's list do we find those points?

They were the important points to be learnt from a trip, although they could also have been deduced from first principles, or learnt from those who have spent a lot more than a few days studying the problems of Africa. I know this is anathema to modern Conservatism, but caring isn't about wearing your heart on your sleeve, or making a token gesture. Very few people have a chance to make a real difference, but MPs are some of the few who do. It is frustrating and depressing, though predictable, to see that the lessons learnt from this trip are superficial or facile.

The Labour approach is to make superficial assessments and to chuck palliatives at the symptoms. The opposition approach should be to make a proper diagnosis and to treat the disease. Modern Tories are showing too much inclination to follow the Labour lead. And then they complain that Brown is stealing their clothes. If they were proper classical-liberal policies, they wouldn't fit him.

Dr.Doom said...

I viewed the film, 'Hotel Rwanda' today, just to see what Rwanda is all about.

Verdict: Horrific.

Doom.

Mark said...

Your first 'thing' was so tasteless that it undermined the value of any of the others for me.

The recent trip can't have got under your skin too far if the mass graves you walked over served only to cue a mediocre pun.