Open letter to African citizen Paul Kagame
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Dear Citizen Paul Kagame,
I do not write to a President, as this title has rather been misused and made a scarecrow that is pulling African leaders away from their peoples.
I write to a Citizen, humble in spirit, who has a high sense of the state, a generous vision of the service he has to render to his people and who strives to operationalize this idea and this vision.
Having regularly come to Rwanda for several years now, as part of the cooperation in the field of education since 2002, I have witnessed the significant and positive developments and changes that have taken place in Rwanda since you took helm of the presidency of the Republic of Rwanda.
I followed on the evening of Friday March 2, 2018, from Huye District where I was, your interaction on the occasion of the closing of the national leadership retreat where you addressed hundreds of leaders.
Here, I was struck by your insistence on the modest, humble, non-triumphalist and non-arrogant spirit that every senior Rwandan official must assume.
What is remarkable and that impresses me in the first place is the pedagogical approach that you use to make Rwandans understand that development begins with a change of mentality. And there you hit a big shot.
The citizen spirit of your compatriots is unique in Africa, it is revealed in small things: responsible and respectful driving of cars and motorcycles; neatness in public offices, streets, avenues and boulevards; controlled urbanisation, and so on.
While in Huye last Friday, I visited several colleges and schools of the University of Rwanda. What struck me was the trust your leadership has in the youth: the leaders of these Colleges, Schools and other Centers of Excellence are young people. You have got it right.
I heard you talk about the “protocol”, as a blockage in the service to the population. I am always struck by the simple way in which the leaders of your country greet and receive visitors. At least those I have interfaced with.
When, in July 2017, I requested an audience with the Vice Chancellor of the University of Rwanda, in the framework of the partnership I wanted to establish between the University of Rwanda and the Evangelical University of Cameroon, it is he who came to see me at the hotel where I was staying in Kigali, something unthinkable in many African countries.
On Wednesday, February 28, 2018, from Huye where I was, I phoned one of the young lecturers and Coordinator of Project whom your leadership entrusted and who works at the University of Rwanda, to solicit his services.
While I wanted to make an appointment with him in Kigali for Monday March 5, he told me that he would find me in Huye the next day because, he said, I had to capitalize my stay in Huye by visiting the Principal of the College of Medicine and Health Sciences.
We worked a good part of the night of Thursday and all the morning of Friday, March 2, 2018. That same Friday, March 2, 2018, I went with him to meet the Principal of College of Medicine and Health Sciences who was not expecting me and in addition was going to start in a few minutes an important meeting.
She welcomed me in unimaginable simplicity. In less than 10 minutes of interaction, she quickly got the reason of my visit and provided me with contacts of persons under her College that would help more to make a remarkable return on my mission in Rwanda.
The same happened on Monday, March 5 at 4:30pm, when I met the Deputy Chancellor for Institutional Advancement (DVCIA), who received us with a disconcerting humility. For nearly 90 minutes, he took care to explain to me the reform in progress, since 2013, which is about to make the University of Rwanda one of the best on the continent.
He also took time to listen to me talking about the young Evangelical University of Cameroon and its specificities. He was excited to hear that the Evangelical University is developing a Master’s degree in Cytopathological and Histopathological Technologies, before saying that it is in the mutual interest for both the UR and UEC to exchange staff and students.
I am among those who think that the Rwandan development model is an example for many other African countries. I pray that the Lord will favor the hearts of your African peers, so that your development approach will inspire them.
It is time for South-South cooperation to stop being limited to summit meetings, but to become a real dynamic of positive and profound change in our rural areas and cities, with youth and higher education as levers.
Dear African Citizen Paul Kagame, I was keen to witness, as an observer and Social Entrepreneur, the positive social change that I see in Rwanda in recent years. Of course, there is still a lot to do.
Finally, after helping to reverse the tragedy your country has experienced back in 1994, you have engaged in a process of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace, in truth. I pray that the Lord, who is the God of Love and Peace, will accompany you to the complete healing of Rwandan hearts.
The writer is a Rector of the Evangelical University of Cameroon.
The views expressed in this article are of the author