The story of Rwanda endures, against all odds
The story of Rwanda...
Everybody wonders why it is that all commentators on Rwanda, be they Rwandan or foreign, are polarised. They are either intensely pro- or fiercely anti-Rwanda.
When it comes to commenting on this country, there seems to be no middle ground. We are not ready to stand at a distance – sit on the fence, coldly and disinterestedly keep aloof – and give our non-partisan view.
Personally, I feel that some, perhaps subconsciously, take it as an obligation to defend her against the notorious abuses that she has for long been subjected to. Others may feel she has outlived her sell-by-date and should have succumbed to those abuses and, therefore, has no business being around. A third camp, for self-serving purposes, impulsively seeks to besmirch the character of her leadership in the hope of seeing the donor community close donor taps. Or hoping to miraculously be placed at the helm of her leadership.
But the story of Rwanda is more complicated than this and cannot be defined by observers and opportunists. For millennia it has been told and will always be told by all Rwandans together. The story of Rwanda is a manifestation of the life of Rwandans and it is shaped by their character.
Along the protracted and winding path of her growth, Rwanda has been weak or strong depending on the leadership guiding, and working with, this character. However, even at the nadir of her weak state, when pushed down she has always managed to rise. This resilience is born of the pillars upon which Rwandan forefathers built it. The pillars of good, shared values: belief in oneness; in communal endeavour, like working together in the face of any adversity; in a dignified life for all; in reciprocal respect; in self-worth, honour, courage, honesty......
Many individuals, mostly leaders, have reneged on these, of course, but they cannot totally erase these values that define the common character of Rwandans. That’s why Rwandans find it possible to come back together after only a few years of being ripped apart by a criminal leadership.
For having observed, or lived under, these different leaderships, commentators are polarised in favour of, or against, one or the other. It is the duty of Rwandans to make this polarisation pro- and fight that which is anti-Rwanda. This they can do by attracting that attention to themselves and away from the leaderships. And today’s leadership is sharply aware of this.
Seized by a strong will to totally achieve the means that will lead to attaining that goal, these leaders are not overlooking the tiniest detail. Health service delivery; education availability and quality-improvement; agricultural mechanisation-modernisation; energy provision and expansion; hygienic lifestyle and environmental protection; upgrading service delivery and transport expansion and modernisation; good governance and justice dispensation; guarding security of person and property; malnutrition eradication; anti-corruption fight; rights protection...... All are given tooth-comb scrutiny with a view to getting the best out of their application.
Yet, this does not sound like the Rwanda that all knew only too well, only the other day. Rwandans have shown that they are capable of unleashing destructive evil, in spite of a possession of all these positive attributes.
In the evil hands of bad leadership, Rwandans are vulnerable, for being trusting and respectful. They can distinguish evil from good but, for not always applying themselves to questioning a dispensation, they have been known to totter on the brink of immolation. So, as for every society, good leadership is crucial for Rwanda.
And if anybody doubts whether bad leadership can destroy even an advanced society, they only need to remember Salem witch-hunts of 17th-century USA. A few hysterical girls, screaming, falling into convulsions and barking like dogs, set off a chain-reaction of accusations of innocent people who were subsequently arrested and, often, hanged. Denying being a witch was enough to send you to the gallows.
Or McCarthyism, the Red Scare, in mid-20th-century USA. Thousands of Americans accused of being Communists or communist sympathisers were subjected to forceful interrogations and imprisonment, again in front of sober judges, who couldn’t even think of asking for evidence. Who knows, maybe the 21st century will bring a more vicious WikiLeaks II Scare, the Virtual Terror!
With bad leadership, genocide can happen in the US or UK, just as it can in Syria, Libya, Kenya...
So, Rwanda is not an enigma. For, thinking it is, everyone tries to decipher her. And love her with passion those who think they have succeeded; hate her with equal passion those who think they haven’t. Rwandans, let’s give them reason, those who seek to love this country. And let’s deny them it, those who seek to hate. Then there will be no polarisation.
We who’ve been wallowing in petty personal pleasures, a halt. A similar halt, you who sell cheap gossip; witch-hunt; bask in flattery; abuse your own; mortgage your patriotism; you who loot government kitty........ Let’s get up and work, all together, and build an all-round Rwanda that’s a magnet to, and deserving of, love. And repellent to, and un-desirous of, hate.
Let’s join the healthy discourse of constructive engagement. It is fulfilling. And, in the end, it is liberating.
...The story of Rwanda must endure, against all odds.
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