Can Rwanda provide Africa’s leadership?
NOW when I ask whether Rwanda can provide Africa’s leadership, I am not asking Rwanda to become a military conqueror, like during the reign of Rwabugiri (Kigeli IV) who expanded Rwanda’s kingdom. The leadership that I’m talking about is more like the leadership of service, the leadership of helping Africa, the leadership of making Africa a better place. So when I ask whether Rwanda can provide Africa’s leadership, I am asking Rwanda to serve the Africans. I believe this is not a large claim to make.
I am asking the question now because Rwandans have, first and foremost, done extremely well for themselves. Rwandans have enjoyed the fastest increase in standard of living than any other nation in recent history. As a result, hardly a month goes by without African Presidents and Ministers, Parliamentarians and other foreign dignitaries visiting Rwanda to learn a thing or two. I believe this same blue-print, one that has transformed Rwanda, could be expanded to the benefit of the African continent.
As part of its contribution to Africa, Rwanda has already exported some of its finest talents to African organisations. They have excelled in their duties. For example, the African Development Bank, since its inception in 1963, is enjoying its best years under Dr Donald Kaberuka; The AU forces in Darfur are a force to reckon with since General Patrick Nyamvumba took over its leadership; and under Dr Richard Sezibera, the EAC’s future looks even brighter.
Now I understand that I am making a large claim by proclaiming Rwanda that can and should provide African leadership in the 21st century. But, looking at Africa today, I see no other country that has enough political capital to assume this role. And if no African country steps up, this leadership role will end up to the West or China. As history has shown, the West has clearly failed in this role despite having dominated the continent for over 200 years. China is new in the game; we still don’t know much about their leadership.
Why am I asking Rwanda to consider African leadership? We are an African country with an enviable track record. We have friends the world, and are highly respected as a country on the move. Rwanda’s leadership is very credible throughout the continent, and is mostly respected for its unwavering commitment to transform its people’s lives. Whenever I meet Africans and tell them that I am from Rwanda, they look at me with envy – almost all of them say they would wish to have President Paul Kagame for at least one term. That is what I consider real political capital.
Nigeria and South Africa are logically the countries to assume this role, simply because of their sheer size of economy and population. Both these countries have flirted with this role, but they have unfortunately disappointed. There are several reasons: first, they both do not enjoy an overwhelming political capital across the continent. Secondly, they are all embroiled in serious internal politics; secession in Nigeria’s north, and black empowerment in South Africa. That leaves North Africa as other serious contenders for this role. But the recent Arab Spring has shaken them to the core, and I honestly do not see them engaging substantially on continent wide issues in the foreseeable future – there will be a tendency for these Arab countries to look inwards.
I think this void could be plugged by Rwanda. As we have shown over the years, we could, once again, rise to the occasion and take control in shaping Africa’s destiny. As a result of globalisation, the world has changed fundamentally. Africa too has changed. I believe with the right leadership, provided by Rwanda in continent wide issues, we could help fellow Africans reach their full potential. It will be sad if we pass this glorious opportunity to either the Chinese, or even worse, the West.
Africans are looking up to Rwanda to provide this leadership. I believe Africa does not need a big and strong country to provide this much needed leadership in the 21st century. It needs a smart, agile and nimble nation for this guidance. Rwanda readily provides that.
Contact email: liban.mugabo[at]gmail.com