Have you ever wondered why Rwandans love their president despite the unflattering labels tagged on him, mainly by foreigners? Many have written about this and given their opinions, some profound, well-intentioned and correct; others trivial, malicious and off the mark. The answer might actually be simpler than we imagine. It is contained in his own words, that he worries about any of them sleeping hungry. He is human like them, concerned with the wellbeing of fellow human beings. He is also a good leader, conscious of his responsibility to citizens and the nation. This is what he told a group of young social media influencers last Friday July 10. He also told them that he is always asking himself what he is doing for his country, the people who put trust in him and elected him to be their leader. That means that he cares about their needs and is mindful of his duty, and Rwandans know it. They know he is always there for them, has time for them, and listens to their concerns and addresses them. He talks with them. In short President Paul Kagame lives with and among Rwandans, only that he has the added responsibility of being their leader. They know him, what he is like and what he does for them. He is not some inaccessible despot sitting on a high throne and looking down with disdain on his subjects. Or some deity before whom Rwandans must bow and genuflect or prostrate in obeisance or supplication. But lest you think that I am simply singing his praises, although there is nothing wrong with that, here are some examples that demonstrate how and why he is close to the people of Rwanda. Two will suffice. Last Friday, July 10, President Kagame gave the whole afternoon, all of three hours, to a virtual discussion with young people referred to as social media influencers for their frequent use of the medium and their ability to shape public opinion. They asked him questions on a wide range of topics, from the liberation of Rwanda and what it meant to him personally and what lessons young people can draw from it to the covid-19 pandemic of today. They probed him on regional and international relations and the fight against corruption. They even wanted to know his personal daily schedule, his favourite food, and many more., He answered their questions openly and often went into details they probably did not expect. Even on what some may consider sensitive diplomatic matters, he was frank. The interaction between president and social media personalities was free and relaxed. You could see it was a useful discussion. The young influencers wanted some more. The president obliged. He, too, was finding it interesting and promised them another session. You do not see this sort of thing - the ease with citizens, the freedom for them to ask anything, and the readiness to engage and deal with their concerns - very often or in many places. In some of them, those in leadership positions are afraid of young people capable of influencing opinion and would rather keep them at a safe distance or not have them at all. Kagame wants to engage them and bring their contribution into the mainstream. Others dismiss them as destructive and mere rabble-rousers. He treats them as partners in national affairs. There are those who view them as rivals for their positions. Kagame is preparing them for those positions. Again, where else have you seen a president catch his officials in some misdemeanour and instead of throwing them in jail, counsels them against such misdeeds and tells them to go and sin no more? And when they cannot resist the urge and sin again, he counsels them some more, gives them a stern warning and a last chance. Well, President Kagame did just that a few days ago and actually does it many times. He had suspended the governor of one of the country’s provinces to allow investigation into reported misconduct. The investigation was duly done and presumably found that the governor’s transgressions were of the sort that could be pardoned. Now everyone knows Kagame to be uncompromising on principle, especially where it concerns misuse of public office. But he is equally forgiving to those who are repentant and promise to keep on the straight and narrow path. And so he was ready to be forgiving even in this case. But before the governor could be pardoned, the president took him before his peers and told them of their colleague’s wrongdoing. The governor duly apologised in public, appeared and sounded remorseful, and must have shown even more contrition before his boss in private. Now the good governor is back at his job. He knows he has used his quota of pardons and so will sin no more. You don’t get those many chances in most places. Only in Rwanda does that happen. And you wonder why the president is respected and loved? The views expressed in this article are of the author.