TODAY, RWANDA is a success story – those who remember the strenuous efforts Rwanda undertook to successfully remake itself on the global stage, they, without a doubt, remember how uncertain, ambitious, and almost impossible, it seemed two decades ago.
Post 1994 began with grounding the Rwandan confidence, prudence, reconciliation and believing in the idea that Rwanda could once again stand on its feet.
The more steps I take back in time, the more in awe I am of our rebirth. It is not hard to remember when landmines were taking their toll on Genocide survivors; or when dogs were more feared than humans and shot for their viciousness.
This arduous journey has thickened our scar tissues and strengthened us. Today, Rwanda has a different set of challenges ranging from sustaining its blade-thin economy, to maintaining security and diplomatic relations with other countries.
Rwanda’s pride is the fact that western nations have now funneled their interests on our home ground. It works both ways: an investment in our future and the ongoing theater of our past.
Last year was yet another bullfight for Rwanda. Groups of people teamed up against Rwanda, creating a red-cape narrative of aggression with accusations that thrust the sword in our back.
Despite the grueling ups and downs of foreigners’ perceptions and propaganda, Rwanda endures. Our own expectations exceed the expectations of others. We expect new roads to be paved. We hope for less power cuts, and await more jobs to be created. What goes unsaid but not unnoticed is the continual personal, economic and intellectual growth of each of us.
But it is also fair to say that in Kigali, like elsewhere, economic disparity is buckling the city. Wealth is the next-door neighbour to poverty. Poverty has become so persisting that people live comfortably with that disturbance. In Kigali, with all its amazing real estates, the slums slam the suburbs with impenetrable poverty shields.
The stakes are high. The veneer to violence is thin. Like many Rwandans, I can’t help but ask, “Who will carry on President Paul Kagame’s legacy?” His motivation comes from a place of humble beginnings; his fire is fueled by a drive to succeed. Those who still doubt or belittle what Rwanda has become I would ask them to remember our history.
Our evolution as a united people in these past twenty years, speaks for itself, as President Kagame has spoken for us.
Mega structures are growing in Kigali and many more are in the planning. They will require more kilowatts to light them up, adding stress to the existing power grid.
With greater numbers of college graduates, we wonder where we will find employment and meaningful work. What is seeping in the minds of many Rwandans is what would Rwanda be like after 2017 when President Kagame steps down?
In this time and age, we can no longer look for leadership outside of ourselves. We can no longer afford to look to another individual to save us. We must look to one another for strength and vision and ingenuity toward what Martin Luther King, Jr., calls “The Blessed Community.”
There was a time when Rwandans fed on a common stream of desperate hopes.
Today, common good and personal betterment is rekindling the Rwandan identity. If our history as Rwandans has taught us anything, it continues to remind us that we can bring forth life from ashes by rebuilding our communities and, in the process, rebuild ourselves.