On Museveni, Allimadi's Blinded By Bias

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[Letter To The Editor]

Milton Allimadi’s article “Uganda's Genocidal President Eyes Kenya” (www.blackstarnews.com May 15, 2009  http://blackstarnews.com/?c=135&a=5682)  is an excellent piece of work that I would recommend for study material in all schools of journalism.

This article is in my view an excellent example of modern African writers who are at war against despotism and have sacrificed their soul on the altar of the same devil. It breaks my heart to see that this has happened to Milton Allimadi.

Allimadi’s hatred for Museveni is justifiable. Out of no choice of himself he bears the scars of "Ugandan" despotism. He knows how it feels to be a refugee. But to cause that trauma to inflict deformities on the face of ones professional integrity is a matter of choice.

Allimadi  has unfortunately allowed that to happen. A lot has been written about Museveni’s “mad Jaruo” insult. But this is not excuse to practice “no holds barred journalism”.

In the article Milton Allimadi has exposed his rough side. One need not go to great lengths nor try too hard to depict Museveni as a villain. But in vilifying him, Allimadi must be professional. It does not help matters to say that Museveni was behind the killing of Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and Cyprian Ntaryamira of Burundi on 6th April 1994 ; a matter that sparked the Rwandan genocide.

In the same breath, it is unnecessary to accuse Museveni of driving a wedge between the Luo and the Kikuyu in Kenya over Migingo Island. To use the Rwandan genocide and the Migingo Island to draw conclusion that Museveni is the mad “genocide president” is to water down the war on despotism.

Allimadi grew up in Uganda. He has a very solid grounding to write copiously, objectively and passionately about Uganda and Museveni without exaggerations and falsehoods. Is Milton serious when he asserts that President Museveni exported human skulls from Uganda's Luwero triangle to Kigali to assist President Kagame to make a case for the Rwanda Genocide?

This is a symptom that Milton’s zest to fight despotism in Africa is damaged by lack of professional integrity. In his monumental work “The Hearts of Darkness, How White Writers Created The Racist Image of Africa,” an exploration into Western media’s historical demonization of Africa over the last several centuries – from Herodotus’ “The Histories,” is a good illustration that professionalism is the icon on the alter of racism, sensationalism and bias.

It is quite ironic therefore that Allimadi falls into the same vicious trap of bias and sensationalism whenever Museveni’s name comes up. This does disservice to the crusaders against despots. For instance, while still trying to clobber Museveni,  Allimadi also introduces a side issue to show. He asserts that only Kibaki rigged the elections in Kenya. Is this the whole truth?

Does Allimadi have an affinity for the Luo community that blinds his view? Is ODM innocent of ballot staffing in their areas? Why omit such an important detail, if not for bias. In the same breath he implores "Kenyans" to see through manipulations half truths and insults? Which "Kenyans" is he talking about ?

In this case, Allimadi's bias against the Kikuyus and the inference that Museveni is aligned to them is apparent. In fact Mr. Allimadi is in my view guilty of meddling. Given that Mr. Museveni came to power and has remains in power through a series of violent and other questionable means, is no license for Mr. Allimadi to peddle exaggerations and rumors about Museveni and or his intentions “ to split the Luos and the Kikuyus” over anything.

In fact, Museveni’s insult was in the context of the persons who were uprooting the “Uganda railway” upon the instigation of certain "mad" leaders in Kibera. I think Mr. Allimadi is reading too many journals of the so-called explorers such as Samuel Baker, and the 20th century reportage by Western journalists that he has now become "cloned" as one of them in as far as Kenyans are concerned.

In view of this, can we afford to lose writers of Mr. Allimadi's caliber on to the altar of despots?




Allimadi's Note: Since BSN published Ng'arua's article above, and my response below, many readers from around the world have contacted me to point out that Paul Ng'arua is a Senior Trial Attorney with the Prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Now readers can evaluate for themselves the motive behind Ng'arua's critique of my original commentary article, as well as his slant. It turns out he is not just a detached "reader" after all.In fact, it's clear that it was Ng'arua who was not "professional" at all by not disclosing that he had a vested professional –or unprofessional, depending on how one sees it— interest in challenging my commentary.

On Museveni: The Writer Is Wrong

Milton Allimadi Responds:

Ng'arua writes very well. Yet, I am not convinced that he believes everything he states in his reaction to my commentary article “Uganda's Genocidal President Eyes Kenya."

I will address the issues he raises. His tone is sober; and so will be the tone of my response.

Yet, he is wrong when he refers to "Allimadi's hatred for Museveni" even though he concludes it's "justifiable." There is no hatred at all: There is determination to expose the deviousness and ruthlessness that has allowed him to extend his reign and engage in so much genocide. 

Only an indifferent person would not "bear the scars" of despotism in Uganda, or elsewhere. The problem is too many of us are too indifferent. We use terminology such as "objectivity" and "professionalism" to mask our indifference or apathy.

There is no "trauma" or "deformity" when engaging a genocidal despot. The problem with our media, and in the East African region as well, has been "conformity"; aping the so-called "objectivity" of Western media outlets such as CNN, BBC, The New York Times and Washington Post: The only thing objective about such corporate media outlets is their objective to coddle and maintain their favorite despots, such as Yoweri Museveni or Paul Kagame, while deriding their least favorite one, such as Robert Mugabe.

How is it that the one who has been the primary cause of the deaths of one million Ugandans, one million Rwandese, and seven million Congolese, is celebrated by the Western corporate media? Because we allow them to set the agenda under the false rubric of "objectivity" which has sent countless Africans to their graves. 

We must never fall into such a trap: otherwise we may as well abandon journalism to these foreign corporate media houses.

Ng'arua needs to travel to Rwanda and ask people what role Museveni played in the genocide there; travel to the northern part of Uganda and ask the people there what role Museveni has played and is playing in the on-going genocide in the concentration camps; where else in the world can an entire ethnic people be coralled in such camps without as much as a cry from the international community; and then, finally, travel to Eastern Congo and ask them the same question.

Why would the International Criminal Court (ICC) be investigating Uganda's role in the genocide and pillage in Eastern Congo? Why would Museveni ask then Secretary General Kofi Annan to block the investigation? These are not creations of Allimadi's "trauma". They were reported in The Wall Street Journal on June 8, 2006 and Ng'arua can Google the story. I also recommend that Kenyan journalists ask him about this Wall Street Journal article: If it was false or erroneous he would have sued the Journal over such damaging revelation.

Also, is Ng'arua aware that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found Uganda in 2005 liable for the massacres and the looting and mass rapes in Eastern Congo? I provided links to the report because I anticipated reaction from people like Ng'arua who would question my "professionalism".

Had Ng'arua read The Wall Street Journal article and the link to the ICJ's ruling I doubt he would have written his well-written but not accurate assessment. The question to be addressed is, since the ICJ ruled --liability and assessed Uganda $10 billion compensation for DR Congo-- based on the documentation I provided the link to; how will the ICC return with a different conclusion?

How do I "vilify" Museveni, as Ng'arua asserts, regarding the murders on April 6th 1994 when a New York Times article stated that the missile used to shoot down the plane carrying then Rwanda president Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi president Cyprian Ntaryamira, was provided by Uganda? Again, Ng'arua can Google this story as well.

Perhaps Ng'arua is not aware that the invasion was carried out by soldiers that had been in the Ugandan army and officers of the Uganda army, on October 1, 1990. And, perhaps Ng'arua is uaware that French and Spanish courts have issued warrants of arrest against the officers of Uganda's invading army (which had changed its name to the Rwanda Patriotic Front) for shooting down Habyarimana's plane.

So, regarding Allimadi's "rough" side; it's not easy to discuss mass murder without exposing---well, mass murder. Mass murder is beyond "rough."

Regarding Museveni's attempt to drive a wedge between the Luo and the Kikuyu in Kenya over Migingo Island is there any serious doubt anywhere about this issue?
This is not a question we need waste time debating.

Regarding the possible abuse of skulls for political agenda: I am bothered by the fact that Ng'arua is more concerned about whether it's plausible or not that Museveni may transport skulls, and even loan them to allies. I would have hoped that Ng'arua would have been more disturbed by the fact that Museveni has never accounted for the whereabouts of the skulls of the "enemies" he defeated to win power and whether they were not co-mingled with the skulls of the victims of his "enemies."

That was the serious point I raised in my commentary--it remains a serious point and should warrant more attention. When skulls command a premium in the macabre industry created by Museveni, of displaying skulls for political agenda, why should it be implausible to Ng'arua that a market for skulls can exist? And in Rwanda, where Museveni's invaders also destroyed the army and supporters of Habyarimana, where are the skulls of the vanquished?

In terms of "The Hearts of Darkness, How White Writers Created The Racist Image of Africa," and the generous words Ng'arua had for my book: I thank him.

There is no bias or sensation in my commentary article and over the next few months and years, as Kenyan journalists and others train their attention to Museveni's past utterances and excesses, their revelations will affirm my assessment of the Ugandan.

Regarding the Kenya elections, the focus of my commentary was not to evaluate who conducted more rigging or not: I never mention the word "rigging" so let's be honest. It is obvious that rigging occurred on both sides based on preponderence of the reports. In my column, I only mentioned the widely reported conclusion, which was that at the end, Mwai Kibaki stole the election. For Ng'arua to assert then that I have a "bias against Kikuyus" because I mentioned this widely reported assessment of the election is mind-boggling: In any case it is a patently false assertion.

Regarding the warning to Kenyans not to be manipulated by Museveni: A Google search will reveal statements, including videos, by several Kenya officials, and Kenyan newspaper editorials, decrying Museveni for meddling in Kenya's affairs and trying to turn Migingo into a "Luo" issue rather than a Kenyan issue. Surely, Ng'arua is not suggesting that they were all influenced by my article? So who then is guilty of "meddling" as Ng'arua asserts: Allimadi or Museveni?

Ng'arua writes very convincingly. So I'm stunned when he asserts that Museveni was referring to "the persons who were uprooting the Uganda railway" when he referred to "mad Jaluos."

That is the nonsense that Museveni peddled in a press conference after his advisers convinced him that this time he had gone too far. Fortunately, his press conference propaganda is belied by the evidence: his very own words, available in the audio remarks broadcast by the BBC, where he refers to "mad Jaluos" and asserts that Jaluo might never be able to fish around Migingo again, depending on how the matter is resolved.

Ng'arua also claims at the end of his commentary that Allimadi has become "cloned" into the racist European so-called explorers like Samuel Baker and his kin: That was an obvious cheap shot, with some malice, and does not deserve a rejoinder. I will ignore it because while I disagree with much of what Ng'arua wrote, it was based, it is possible, on a misreading of my column; my intention; and inadequate information.

Finally, Ng'arua should never be worried about losing "writers of Allimadi's caliber on to the altar of despots." Rather, he should pray that more of our writers abandon their masks and expose people like Museveni for what they are: mass killers of African peoples.

Please post your comments directly online or submit them for publication to milton@blackstarnews.com

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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