“Answer them [critics] with silence and indifference. It works better, I assure you, than anger and argument.”
Just a few days ago, President Paul Kagame was awarded the 2009 Clinton Global Citizen award in the Public Service category. This, of course was the umpteenth time Kagame was being honored for the work he has done to rebuild the nation and its people.
Reading former American President Bill Clinton’s speech delivered at the ceremony, I tried to put myself in the shoes of a critic and more specifically a Kagame critic.
Not even a month since rwanda shocked the world by being the World Bank’s most reformed country business-wise, here was Kagame again, in the spot-light; something that his most fervent critics would have wanted for themselves.
Unlike most politicians, Kagame has always stuck to silence and hard work.
After winning the 2003 presidential elections with a landslide victory, Kagame was criticised for not having provided enough time and space for his opponents to compete. Some critics also reported irregularities and claimed rigging.
Without a single word in his own defense he instead worked even harder.
In September 2005, Kagame was awarded the African National Achievement Award by the Africa America Institute, followed by the 2006 ICT Africa Award, and later he was awarded the 2007 African Gender Award in Dakar, Senegal for his role in emancipating women in Rwanda.
In June 2009, Kagame was awarded the Children’s Champion Award by the US Fund for UNICEF for Promoting Children’s Rights. And the list goes on.
The complaints have been many. The critics are looking at the clock waiting for his major blunder but unlike most leaders, Kagame accepts the fact that while some of his decisions will attract criticism; the long term goal is to benefit every one of his citizens.
Had I been in a critic’ s shoes, I wondered, what would I point to if I was to discredit him. It would be difficult because the man himself never said that he was perfect or that the job was easy.
Some critics have said that Kagame’s policies are all theory and no action but he has left the facts to do the talking. Contrary to their views he has introduced and implemented policies that have left most of the world in awe.
He has introduced education for all, medical insurance for all, improved the road networks reduced child mortality rates and cut down malaria fatalities.
He acknowledges that much more work remains to be done and does not deny that it’s an uphill task but he refuses to sit back but has chosen to stand up and work towards country’s vision.
“The great victory of Rwanda was a victory of the mind and the spirit. Leave here with that lesson,” Clinton recently said.
As if to support this article, Kagame recently said, “Some of these decisions might not attract applause but certainly people have to understand that in the end, we shall all benefit”.
For forging a strong, unified and growing nation, Kagame silenced his critics and proved the great Rossini right. “Answer them [critics] with silence and indifference” It indeed works better.
The author is a journalist with The New Times