Paul Kagame Spins Youtube

I just wasted 47 minutes watching the latest installment in Youtube’s much hyped “World View” series with presidents and prime ministers; this time the subject was Rwanda’s Life President, Paul Kagame. The interview was conducted by Khaya Dlanga, the South African blogger and “Youtube partner.” Billed as “… the first YouTube World View interview with an African leader.” Previous interviewees include David Cameron and the Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero. Lots of people have tweeted it or blogged about it with little comment. I doubt many of them even watched it. Basically, it is like watching paint dry. But that’s probably the point with the whole thing. Kagame basically gets away with saying nothing. Dlanga is no match for Kagame. Of course we’re not surprised by Kagame’s tactics. As we know he is good at that. (Adam Hochchild recently refered to Kagame as “the media savvy autocrat.”) Kagame is never forced to answer real questions: whether about his regime’s destructive role in the neighboring DRC (retaliatory violence against Hutus) and the persecution and assassination of political opponents and journalists back in Rwanda, among other things. It felt like the questions–submitted online–were prescreened. They were all softballs. Kagame gets asked questions about “the future of Africa,” the diaspora, “the youth,” what advice Kagame has for “undemocratic leaders” (he also wins elections with plus 90 percent of the vote) or for countries “like Nigeria, Libya and the DRC divided along ethnic lines.” Finally about 20 minutes in, a viewer gets to ask Kagame about stepping down after his second term ends only in 2017, but even Dlanga gets an annoyed Kagame to get away with it literally. And then this: “The final question: If you could dine with one person … who would it be and why?” Kagame has a strategy for being elusive in interviews (just mouth a bunch of platitudes and hide your annoyance well), but we have to ask what Dlanga and the producers were up to here. Did Dlanga actually prepare for this interview? Or was Dlanga  just wise knowing how Kagame’s supporters deal with his critics. (The link takes you to a story about academics who wrote a critical book about Rwanda and Kagame.)

UPDATE: Meanwhile Kagame took exception to criticism by British journalist Ian Burrell and went on a twitter rant against Birrell. For a rundown of the incident, see a great summary by A View from the Cave.

Comments

comments

Sean Jacobs

Also goes by Hasan Wazan. Life President.

10 Comments
  1. First, PK is not "president for life". Childish? So next you say PK is a an "autocrat" but he does an awful lot of interviews – you do the research. Not very autocratic? Can they all be conspiracies? Your own review is boring. Maybe you should ask to interview him or send him a tweet? Admit it, he is doing a great job.

  2. You did better than me, I watched about 15 minutes at first but found it so boring I stopped. However I finished it this morning after the Birrell v Kagame spat. I couldn't understand why they'd chosen Khaya Dlanga though, sure he's a smart, funny guy but not exactly my first choice of African politicos. The whole thing is a stiff PR exercise where Khaya just reads off questions with no further investigation. I guess hard political questions or critical engagement wasn't the point.

  3. One thing is sure: the truth always triumps. President Kagame is not and will never be an autocrat or a dictotor as rwandan haters keep singing it. They don't unfortunately have any chance to succeed because their claims are a pure contrast of what the president is doing to his country. I don't even need to enumerate all the good things he has been doing for his country and still does till today. The results themselves can tell. On top of that he is one of the more accessible heads of states in the world, that definetly prooves how he really wants to reach out to the people, for Rwanda to achieve a better future but also shows that he is not hiding anything about his tremendous work. Wow!! What an inpiring leader.
    So, Rwandan haters, i would suggest you to wisely spend your time and rather support Rwanda in its examplary vision because nothing will never again take Rwandans back to those dark days. Hope is what drives that small East African country today. God bless President Kagame and his beutiful country.

  4. i always ask myself why this man is a topic in the world.when he was fighting in the bush, trying to end forged tribalism, trying to make Rwanda a real country, nobody was talking about him, nobody even dared to help even when they understood what he was fighting for. The whole world was watching while a million Rwandans died. when the country is trying to build its self the whole world is now raising its dirty mouth. But i am not supplised all african or asian leaders that try to raise, the west interveens. MR.president keep strong and do what you are supposed to do. talk about your so called democratic government first (the USA, the France, the British) they are the bevils on earth that make the whole world focus on small african countries. (KAGAME was elected by the Rwandies period).

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