Every Tom, Dick and Harry that visits Rwanda comes back an expert of sorts, a condition that honestly is beginning to get on my nerves.
The latest: Dr. Vincent DeGennaro, an internal medicine physician and global public health specialist in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School.
In a diatrribe (by his own admission) posted at the end of last year in “Alumni Blogs And Society & Culture”, DeGennaro says that “Of the 40 or so countries I have been to, Rwanda may be the only one I didn’t like.”
I can accept that, and not everybody will like Rwanda. Fair enough. But DeGennaro’s misinterpretations and condescending attitude, his sheer sense of uppity is grossly out of place.
Westerners who go to Africa and want to be treated like demi-Gods really ought to stay home. America is no utopia either. DeGennaro’s diatribe reminds of me of a small boy that goes out to play but is slighted by the other kids and runs back to the house crying to the mother seeking comfort. DeGennaro, you ain’t getting any from me, I am sorry.
DeGennaro speaks with a forked toungue. “Rwanda is much easier than places like Honduras, where there is constant worry for personal safety, or Haiti, where you can’t rent a decent air-conditioned hotel room no matter how much money you have.”
He calls Rwanda “a perfect place on the surface with a dark soul.” He claims he was haunted by ghosts and dark spirits “down the corridors of the hospital” where he worked and treated cancer patients. May be the 18 months he spent in Rwanda he should have sought medical help.
He goes on to say, “I like the Rwandan people – honest, generous, and loyal…” Wow! Thanks good doctor. What would we have done without this accolade.
“More than any other country of dark-skinned people, Rwanda made me feel odd, like an animal in a zoo. No matter where I went, Rwandans stopped whatever they were doing, stared as I walked by and, without fail, said mzungu (white person or foreigner.” May be it is because they are “dark-skinned” as he noticed?
He goes on to make this observation: “Rwandans follow orders and procedure to a fault, even if the rules contradict their own self-interest.” When did observing laws and civility go out of style?
“On some level, the consistency was comforting, knowing that every form must have every box checked, that deadlines would be strictly adhered to” he says. Come on doctor, make up your mind. If you are more comfortable in a Banana Republic, call me and I will tell you where you can go next to help “dark-skinned” folks.
And yes, after 18 months in Rwanda, DeGennaro mastered the politics of the region. He states that Rwanda supports the insurgency in the DRC where we have started “a campaign of raping and pillaging…”
DeGennaro’s diatribe then crosses the line by complaining about The AGACIRO FUND which he calls a “solidarity fund”, making allegations that people are forced to donate 10% of their salaries. I say, stick with medicine and leave us to manage our own affairs which you don’t seem to comprehend. We are doing fine, thanks.
“Rwanda is in significantly better shape than many of their neighbors because of the singularity of purpose of the government …” Degennaro concludes. And as I was to breathe a sigh of relief, like many do, he added in the big BUT : “But at what cost?”
He closes by saying, “It is entirely possible that I will never be welcomed back in Rwanda if the wrong person reads this diatribe, and I am finally at peace with that.”
Wrong, again, good doctor. Rwandans are NOT simple minded.