Pope Francis' cartoon in Ugandan New Vision Highlights Hypocrisy on Rwandan tragedy

Pope Francis' and General Paul Kagame's cartoon in Ugandan New Vision, Dec 20, 2016

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On Wednesday, December 21, 2016, the state-owned Ugandan daily New Vision  retracted and apologized for a cartoon about the 1994 Rwandan inter-ethnic massacres, after a forceful media and diplomatic attack from Rwandan officials working in the office of the  Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame.


The cartoon, published on Tuesday, December 20, 2016,  shows General Paul Kagame sitting inside a confessional, while Pope Francis kneels outside asking forgiveness for the "1994 genocide." and for "the assassination  attempt Lt. Gen Faustin Nyamwasa".

Lt Gen Faustin Nyamwasa is a former Rwandan army chief who fought alongside and worked under General Paul Kagame before fleeing the country. He lives in exile in South Africa, where he has escaped two assassinations attempts, which he blames General Paul Kagame for (see our articles here).

The cartoon appeared to highlight  the hypocrisy of and mock Kagame who on last Friday reiterated his demand that the pope apologize for the actions of the Catholic Church in 1994.

"Today's cartoon in @NewVisionWire is more than just in bad taste. Poking fun at genocide is not funny. It is denial. Unacceptable," tweeted Yolande Makolo, a senior advisor the Rwandan dictator and communications director in the Rwandan presidency.

A series of furious tweets from Rwandans compared the newspaper to French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

 Following the tweets,  according to sources close to the presidential office in Kigali, New Vision editor-in-chief, Barbara Kaija called General Paul Kagame to apologise for the cartoon, after taking it down from the newspaper's website. Meanwhile, AfroAmerica Network, tipped by sources in Kampala, that the cartoon was going to be taken down, had already obtained a copy (see featured image).

 Rwanda's Catholic Church apologised  in November 2016,  on behalf of all Rwandan Christians, for the role played by the Rwandan Catholic Christians in the 1994 Rwandan inter-ethnic massacres. Following the apology, General Paul Kagame had publicly stated that the apology was not enough, until Pope Francis himself apologizes on the behalf of the entire Catholic Church.

The cartoon appears to mock Kagame for his avert hypocrisy. During the 1994 massacres, General Paul Kagame has himself been accused by several witnesses including his closest fighting comrades of directly and personally being responsible for massacring hundreds of thousands of civilians from all ethnic groups (see here).

Since taking power, according to United Nations  Mapping Report of 2010 and reports and accounts from several independent organizations and NGOS, he has massacred more than 7 million Rwandan refugees and Congolese civilians, since 1997. 

Several opposition leaders and General Paul Kagame's critics have been assassinated or have come under attack  in Rwanda or Africa and in the Western nations where they live in exile.

General Nyamwasa has escaped two assassination attempts in South Africa.  The latest failed assassination attempt on General Kayumba Nyamwasa in 2014 sparked a diplomatic row between South African and General Paul Kagame's governments.  Colonel Patrick Karegeya, an Intelligence Chief under General Paul Kagame, before they fell out, was assassinated on December 31, 2013 in a luxurious hotel in Johanesburg, South Africa. His lifeless body was found on January 1, 2014.