Twenty years after the end of the Rwandan genocide, knowledge production
on the small country of a thousand hills remains a clamorous battle ground of
post- and decolonial power and influence. This essay critically engages with the
knowledge production on Rwanda in the West by conceptualizing it as a Wilsonian intervention in the post-colony: paternalistically well-intended at the service of the peace, democracy and free trade liberal triad, while at the same time silencing, self-contradictory and potentially counterproductive. The Wilsonian interventionist form of knowledge production is coated in a language of critical engagement and care. At the same time it is and allows for a continuous external engagement in view of this Wilsonian triad - a highly particularist view on the good life, cast in universal terms. As a former journalist and a researcher from the Belgian Rwandan diaspora and building on a decolonial research strategy, in this essay I reflect on potentially different avenues to produce and consume knowledge on the country. I do this by discussing the challenges and creative opportunities of a recently started research project on Agaciro (self-worth): a philosophy and public policy in post-genocide Rwanda rooted in its precolonial past, centred on the ideals of self-determination, dignity and self-reliance.
Rather than inscribing itself firmly into the canon that aims at informing on
Rwanda, this research project seeks to contribute to a different mode of
imagining, studying and enacting sovereignty in today’s academic and political
world, both permeated by the hegemonic principle of the responsibility to