Rwanda, Uganda Still At War - but This Time On Social Media

23 October 2021
opinion

I was so naïve to think that Uganda's quietude would enlist some level of calm in the frosty relationship between Uganda and Rwanda.

I was wrong. Otherwise, Rwandan activists are falling over each other on abusing Mr Museveni and even accusing some innocent Ugandans of being anti-Rwanda. Sad!

Forget the debates between Ugandan and Rwandan intellectually disposed government officials that lit the Ugandan media in the aftermath of the famous (infamous) Kisangani Incidents.

I enjoyed a ringside seat (on the Rwandan side) as a quiet observer during the Kisangani Incidents. Up to now, I am still an indifferent and quiet observer of the Ugandan-Rwanda issues. Although I am no expert, I am familiar with the issues of the day. Dear reader, most of the issues in the Uganda-Rwanda frosty relationship are more emotional than rational.

Most of the accusations (and counter accusations) are mere suspicions projected as truths based on actionable intelligence. That is why I was not surprised when a loose mid-level government of Rwanda official placed me among a group of Rwandans he accused of being Anti-Rwanda Doomsayers".

I just told him he "lacks the strategic depth to engage in state-to-state' matters".

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I have been following how the Ugandan media has treated the latest episode in the recurring Uganda-Rwanda tiffs. As an indifferent, impersonal and dispassionate observer, my personal observation is that the Ugandan media has acted even-handedly in the current episode. It was a different story during the famous (infamous?) Kisangani Incidents.

During the Kisangani Incidents, Ugandan media acted as a regional paper allowing Rwanda government officials a much-needed platform. However, the Rwandan officials who engaged in media kept a high degree of decency. They seem to have been more ideologically mature than the current crop promoting the Rwandan case. The Rwandan protagonists used the Ugandan media to project a Rwanda whose fears and actions were right; morally and necessary. They never made personal attacks on Ugandans.

I personally had proximity to Rwandan officials involved in these media debates at the time. They were nimble and asymmetrical. They used fictitious names and institutions in which they claimed to work. The most famous of those fictitious personalities was Dr Rukara Ngango who claimed to be working at the Great Lakes Institute of Strategic Studies (or some such lofty institution).

So popular was Dr Ngango that some Ugandans still ask about him. However, those who ask about the identity of Dr Ngango acknowledge that he was good (even if he was on the opposite side). Truth though is: Dr Ngango and the institutions he claimed to work for never existed.

During 'our time' (the Kisangani Incident), we had worthy protagonists and Ugandan newspaper editors found op-eds from Rwandan officials worth gracing their pages. It is telling that Rwandan officials are now taking refuge in social media (with its limitations in reach) as the choice platform for their projection of Rwanda.

Here is my unsolicited advice to Ugandan and Rwandan activists: work on the veracity of your social media content.

Greetings from Kiburara.

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of the East African Flagpost. [email protected]

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