Rwandan president Paul Kagame has emerged as perhaps the most enigmatic and controversial figure in Africa. Is he the principled leader of "one of the safest and most orderly countries in Africa" (as one journalist put it), the man who calmly rebuilt Rwanda following one of the worst episodes of mass killing in the modern era? Or is he the primary architect of a brutal dictatorship, himself implicated in scores of serious human rights abuses, including crimes against humanity and genocide?
Please join us for "Revising Paul Kagame: Myth and Reality After the Genocide in Rwanda." Our distinguished panelists will examine the image of Kagame that has been created in the media—and in the popular imagination—and how that image contrasts with reality. They'll also address such vexing questions as: How does one depict a legacy as complex and contradictory as Kagame's? How does a society recover from genocide, and how do we assess the benefits and drawbacks of the suppression of discussion of ethnic identity? And Is it ever permissible to take liberties with the factual record in the service of a just cause?
Veteran New York Times correspondent Howard French will write an in-depth, journalistic account of the dramatic increase in Chinese migration to Africa in the past decade. His book will explore the actual and potential impact of migration in three key economic sectors: agriculture, industry, and commerce.
By telling the stories of the workers themselvesâ€”and the African communities where they now resideâ€”he expects to identify ways for African civil society to maximize the benefits of Chinese migration, mitigate the pitfalls, and safeguard the rights of Africans and Chinese alike.
French served as the Times bureau chief for West Africa, Japan and the Koreas, Central America and the Caribbean, and China from 1990 until 2008. He is currently an associate professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The author of A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa, published in 2004, he is also an accomplished documentary photographer.
Frenchâ€™s project should provide valuable insights to Open Society Institute programs on migration, economic development, minority rights, and governance, as well as to Africa regional foundations and our developing work on China.
Tim Gallimore is the former Spokesman for the ICTR Prosecutor.
Rona Peligal is the deputy director of the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, a position she has held since May 2009. Peligal helps manage Human Rights Watch's research on Africa, ensuring the quality and integrity of its investigations and strategizing on advocacy activities to promote human rights improvements in Africa.
Theogene Rudasingwa served as secretary general of the Rwandan Patriotic Front and Rwandan Ambassador to the United States
Former Rwandan Ambassador to the United States Theogene Rudasingwa observes that the ruling party of President Kagame, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, is exhibiting behaviors characteristic of previous regimes that led to the genocide 17 years ago. "You can see the signals, the stress signals, that existed before 1994, you can see them in Rwanda today."