We made a great effort to walk confidently but it must have been an effort in futility; you felt that eyes were fixed on you. We must have looked every inch like fugitives. There was no other option, though.
Our safety counted for little. Our purpose, for life itself. The cause was paramount.
The year was 1988. We were in Kenya, as refugees and at this time the Moi and Habyarimana regimes were a tad too matey. So we organised clandestinely to avoid being nabbed. The wider scheme of things was not our concern; the task at hand was.
The task: to reach the house of a compatriot teacher in Nyeri town. And therein to hibernate for two weeks – twelve of us, a two-bedroom house – without arousing suspicion. On a school compound where teachers and their families lived. A little relief: students were in holidays.
And so, from Nyeri, on different days, from different parts of Kenya, we walked in singles or doubles, to finally converge on the house. We were here as recruit cadres of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), which meant becoming agents of political and mass mobilisation, PMM. Two weeks to travel to Nyeri, two to study and discuss and two for going back to our different stations.
After the session, our duty’d be to mobilise and sensitise other Rwandans, wherever they were, on the need for all Rwandans to struggle and recapture their inalienable rights and to determine their destiny. Success in this was the ultimate cause.
Why were Rwandans not living as a family, as before? They were capable of protecting themselves, their property and their country. The country’s resources were there for all to exploit and share equitably, cleanly and transparently. Why should a Rwandan be a refugee and why shouldn’t their society work with other societies to reap shared benefits?
Indeed, the cause was paramount.
These rights, almost everybody appreciated. But when and how they were denied and how to be reclaimed, few did. And so, as cadres, we delved deep into studying Rwanda from her beginning for, as any society in growth, Rwandans had never enjoyed all their rights. Not before, during or after colonialism, under the two post-colonial regimes.
Rwanda: her history, her geography, society composition, location, place in the global community, resources, energies. How could they be optimally applied to create a harmonious, improved and continually improving society?
And so we discussed Rwandan history, geography, culture, tradition. We discussed capitalism, communalism, communism, socialism, third-world non-alignment, historical materialism, scientific socialism, scientific methods of work – everything, oh do I recall them all?
But does it matter? Today, they are ingrained in the Rwandan mind. Rwandans are living them, choosing what advances them, discarding what drags them down. From these and from the context of now, Rwandans are in the process of picking best practices from an amalgamation of everything. Those of today demanded it of then, as future generations demand it of now.
And so from Kenya and literally every country on this earth, including Rwanda, women/men rose in unison and they are where they are today. And, no doubt, this is a good place. Especially, because they know that they still have a long way to go.
Of course, the hot zeal of the time has been confronted by the cold practicality of now. And so, for instance, when we waxed know-all about methane gas from Lake Kivu turning Rwanda into a Nirvana overnight, it has proved elusive. When we sang to high heaven that swamps were the food basket for Rwanda, the need for environmental protection has stared us hard in the face.
But, as everyone knows, haste makes waste. That’s why there is always need for another round of strategising. Today, Rwanda is in the continuum of strategising. Methane gas calls for patience; swamps for an alternative strategy. It is as it should be...
These thoughts came flooding in my mind when I heard businessman Tribert Rujugiro on radio. He averred that he self-exiled because RPF has reneged on its original programme. Yet, unity, sovereignty, national cleanliness, all-Rwandan-embracing, heightened integration and never again to Genocide are cornerstones of the RPF pulse.
All Rwandans have become PMMs, walking openly in their entirety. Mobilising for unity, improved health, strong/mass education, enhanced livelihood, say it, with, in their sights, a knowledge-driven middle-income economy by 2020. And even there, count on it, it will still be soldiering on.
And someone talks about RPF betraying its cause?
To quote Rujugiro’s bed-fellow oppositionist, “Ariko murasetsa!” Indeed, don’t make me laugh!