A few days ago, I had a conversation with a friend in Kigali about the latest events on Rwanda. As usual he had a lot to say and did most of the talking. Below I paraphrase what he said.
The foreign media has been reporting that exiled Rwandan politicians and fugitives from justice are busy forming a political alliance against the Government of Rwanda.
A telling fact is that the centre of the alliance is the genocidal and misnamed Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). The intentions of what may be cobbled together could not be clearer – to complete the unfinished business of 1994.
The mover of the alliance is an old man whose memory keeps shifting that soon he probably won’t know who he is any more.
Who needs to listen to stories about the ungainly antics of a dinosaur and the murderous intentions of genocidaires when there are other, more spirit-lifting stories about Rwandans going about their business normally? Perhaps only themselves and their backers.
Equally predictable are reports that groups of Genocide deniers (mainly foreign), among them key actors in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and architects of the system that nurtured its ideology, are busy on the conference circuit trying to remake history in their image.
These too cannot make an interesting story since they are mired in the past and want to turn the clock back to where they are fast-fixed.
Again, who wants to hear stories of hatred and calls for destruction disguised as academic analyses from another set of dinosaurs? Except perhaps those with an apocalyptic ideology.
They have become irrelevant. For instance, a person like Professor Filip Reyntjens has been there for so long, said and done the wrong things that he can no longer tell what is right or wrong. He and others like him no longer have any worthwhile contribution to make.
The relics of another political age may hold all the meetings they wish on foreign soil, gather all the rabble they can get, dream all they want and shout their lungs out, they won’t achieve much. Maybe they will get a few seconds of airtime on radio and TV, and some inches of space in newspapers. That’s all.
The ageing foreign academics and retired public officers are free to give full rein to their fantasies and pet theories. They are allowed to give vent to their extreme emotions. They may reconstruct their ideas of yesteryear to try to fit them into the present and future. But they will not remake history or turn the clock back to the time warp in which they are trapped. And who cares anyway?
In any case, all this is happening far away, out of touch with Rwandans’ real lives. It cannot do much harm.
There are more worthy tales from Rwanda to occupy our minds in a more pleasant manner. The real story is happening here – in building the nation, making the economy grow, doing all the things from which all Rwandans benefit.
The hottest news is the 12.5 billion francs Government Treasury Bond issued last week. The bond was snapped up and oversubscribed. Also, the good news was that most of the offers came from local businesses.
Last week’s bond follows the US $400 million Eurobond put on the market about one year ago. That was also snapped up and oversubscribed more than eight times.
The issue of the two bonds and their success is significant in several ways.
First, this is a new way of raising capital that has not been used much in Rwanda. It is happening now because government feels confident to go to financial markets to raise money for various projects since it has the ability to repay the debt.
Equally, private businesses are prepared to pay even more than what the government has asked for, they can only do so if they are certain that they will recover their money.
What this means is that both have confidence in the strength and performance of the economy.
Secondly, it points to a readiness to diversify sources of capital. Previously, financing for major infrastructure projects was obtained from multilateral lending agencies or from individual foreign governments.
It is clear that these agencies base their lending on more than business considerations. Other factors like the choices a country makes, or its values that may not be shared by the big shareholders determine whether a loan can be given or not.
Evidently, in such a situation, obtaining finance becomes unpredictable and you cannot base planning on uncertain sources.
The bond is a sure way of raising capital.
You cannot argue with the optimism of my friend, especially when it is backed by facts. Facts are the newest way of telling a compelling and credible story. You can trust them. Inventions of the mind are exciting and enjoyable to read, but they are also deceitful.