Rwanda: Michela Wrong on her book ‘Do not disturb’

By Patrick Smith

Posted on April 23, 2021 14:41


When veteran correspondent Michela Wrong started researching her book, ‘Do Not Disturb – the story of a political murder and an African regime gone bad’ on the killing of Rwanda’s spymaster Patrick Karegeya, she knew it was going to prompt fierce arguments about President Paul Kagame’s record and the country’s direction.

Well beyond the borders of Rwanda, the book delves into the international response to 1994 genocide and the subsequent courting of the Kigali government. It has won rave reviews in Western newspapers and stern condemnation by President Kagame’s defenders.

Like many foreign journalists covering the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Wrong’s sympathies were drawn overwhelmingly to the RPF, its mission to ‘abolish ethnicity’ and build a sustainable and equitable economy. There was too the UN Security Council’s unconscionable withdrawal of peacekeeping troops at the height of the mass killing.

Wrong changed her view when Kagame’s government sent troops into neighbouring DRC ostensibly in pursuit of genocidaires but quickly morphing into a fearsome combination of occupying army exacting bloody revenge and a militia plundering resources. Then she started questioning Kigali’s claims of accountability and wide-ranging development gains.

It is the derring-do of Patrick Karegeya, external intelligence chief of the RPF turned determined foe of Kagame, that provides the armature for Wrong’s narrative. Once Kigali’s most accomplished promoters, Karegeya was fired and then fled Rwanda in 2007. Seven years later, he was strangled in a hotel room in Johannesburg.

What does Karegeya’s turbulent life and traumatic death tell us about Rwanda’s political dynamics and why some of Kagame’s oldest allies became his staunch opponents?

In this special edition of the Talking Africa podcast, Patrick Smith brings together Michela Wrong and Kenyan writer and historian Parselelo Kantai to discuss the issues raised in the book for Rwanda and the wider region.

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