Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The business of hate: the fact about Kagame's 'letter' to Cameroonians

There are Infox circulating on the internet, with the best intentions in the world. They are no less harmful. Example this week with this text entitled "The business of hate" which circulates massively on social networks, and which is presented as a letter from Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, Cameroonians. Everything indicates that it is a forgery, and yet, it circulates.

No, President Kagame is not the author of this letter, as many netizens who tweet and share on Facebook or WhatsApp claim. Some online news sites have also published, some under a portrait of Paul Kagame, others on the sidelines of a cliché dating from 2014, where we see the president of Rwanda shake hands with his Cameroonian counterpart. The story travels across the African continent, from Guinea to Cameroon to Mali and Senegal. But it is, strictly speaking, an infox. 

The tone of the letter is anything but presidential. Here's how it begins: "I've always wondered, reading communal war reports from other skies, how people who lived in good spirits, had come to slaughter themselves like animals" and then quote Betes and the Dioulas in Côte d'Ivoire, Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda. 

The argument is a warning to the Cameroonians, which ends with these words: "You will not say I did not warn you. Filing your machete this morning, read my words, they are those of a guy who saw what happened in his country. " 

At first reading, we can hardly imagine Paul Kagame expressing himself that way. And just a few clicks to make sure. We realize very quickly that the author of the text, the signature of the letter, varies from one site to another. 

Some Internet users - because they approve the contents of the letter - share it, without questioning its authenticity and its attribution to President Kagame. This is how a Cameroonian politician retwitte it saying "this letter fell into my WhatsApp", without mentioning the president of Rwanda. One of the subscribers to the site of this politician will then post the letter on Facebook by attributing it to the same politician. 

There is also the text supposedly signed Kagame on the Facebook page of African Heroes. A site that highlights the great men and women of the continent, by broadcasting their speeches, their deeds. So we asked them, "Do you know where this letter came from? And here is the answer: "Unfortunately no! We hope it's authentic because it's an important message! ". The membership triggers the like or the sharing, without going through the necessary stage of the verification, it is like that propagates the misinformation.
What to wonder about the substance of this letter that claims to denounce "the business of hate"

There is no good or bad infox, the very principle of spreading a fake is harmful, whatever the intention supposed.  In addition, the text that is relayed allows for dubious comparisons between Côte d'Ivoire, Rwanda and Cameroon, as if these countries were interchangeable, all subject to the same evils.  We note that the text provides no information on the current situation in Cameroon, the nature of the tensions that work society and political life in Cameroon, we remain totally in limbo.

Worse, as regards the reference to Rwanda, the terms of the letter suggest a shared responsibility of Tutsis and Hutus.  Under cover of an anti-hate speech, we put victims and executioners back to back, it is a rewrite of history steeped in negationism.  It is therefore by nature a dangerous text, with regard to the memory of the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda.  It is a shame to put the signature of Paul Kagame.

Can we know where this text originated from?

 It must be admitted that no.  We know what it is not, but we have not managed to find who is the original author of this text.  All we have been able to establish is that it is a recycled web feed as circumstances dictate.  That's why the content is evasive about Cameroon.  In fact, it is enough to change the name of the country, and the text can adapt to all kinds of intercommunal conflicts, in disregard of the history and the reality of the facts.

According to one of our listeners, Raphael from the RFI club of Doula, another version of this text was already circulating two years ago under the pen of an Ivorian personality.

A big thank you also to this other member of the WhatsApp group created specifically for this show, Aman Baptiste of Abidjan, who sent us this text to verify its authenticity. 

So you too, do not hesitate, when you see a statement, a video that raises doubt, to let us know about WhatsApp whatever the subject. 

Send us your messages to 06 89 07 61 09, if you contact us from France, 336 89 07 61 09 if you join us from abroad. 

Let us know about your doubts, infox circulating in your area or around the world. We exchange and we talk about it, on the antennas of RFI every Friday in "Les dessous de l'infox".

Source: Rfi.fr