Human beings are endowed with the right of choice, which is a form of empowerment that gives us our responsibility as independent beings. That essentially means that we do what we choose to do, and our lives turn out to be a sum total of the choices we make along the trajectory we take.
This is the message that President Paul Kagame has repeatedly delivered to the Rwandan people: that our success as a nation is predicated on our propensity to make the right choices.
This is often not the choice between doing something and doing nothing, or the choice between right or wrong – most people are able to discern that, but rather choice between what is good, better, or best for our country.
That our success cannot come down like manna from heaven or as a result of idle chance, but rather as a matter of making the right choices, often made of great courage. Isn’t his life story a tale of momentous choices, great courage, sacrifice, and determination to succeed?
As a young man, President Kagame chose to sacrifice everything and embarked on a struggle that would ultimately return refugees to their homeland and restore their dignity. I don’t need to remind the reader that these refugees had remained stateless and languished in refugee camps for decades, their plight forgotten or ignored by an international community that did not care.
This struggle would also entail liberating Rwandans inside the country who had been kept under the bondage of bad governance and what seemed like perpetual misrule. Those objectives were attained and have ushered in Rwanda a new dispensation in which other momentous choices have been made to put Rwanda and Rwandans on the path of development and prosperity for all.
Under the leadership of President Kagame, we have chosen to outlaw ethnic division and discrimination because we want to be united and reconciled people.
We have chosen to restore peace, security, and stability in our country and we have committed ourselves to defending them at all costs.
We have chosen to support and promote an inclusive political culture in which all Rwandans see themselves.
We have chosen to be a country governed by the rule of law and order.
We have chosen to foster transparent and accountable management of the public good. We have chosen to promote gender equality and the empowerment of the Rwandan woman.
We have chosen to transform our country from a poverty-stricken one to an economically prosperous and forward-looking country where all Rwandans live in dignity and respect.
We have chosen to put at the centre-stage of our development the principle of free market economy and the role of private industry and capital. Above all, we have made the choice that aid and handouts should be a transitory mechanism to help us stand on our own feet and then take charge of our development process.
These are a few examples of deliberate choices made by the Rwandan people spearheaded by a focussed and visionary leadership, determined to stick to principle rather than cheap populism. As President Kagame never tires to remind us, no one owes us a free lunch. It has never happened; and it will never happen.
Today, what we need is certainty and continuity.
I detect a mood of renewed resilience and determination to forge ahead together with increasing confidence that we are building a better tomorrow.
We must internalise the message given by President Kagame: that we must continue to make choices, the right and fitting choices.
Choices, not for individual determination, but choices to do what is in our best common interest. Choices that put the levers in the hands of all Rwandans, who are the very people that will propel the development of our country.
The author is the President’s Advisor on Media and Communications