The ruling RPF party held its General Congress last Saturday 30. As usual, it was a mix of puzzlingly grilling and gruelling but also jovial and hilarious affair. After a hiatus of Covid-19-induced extended inertia, there were platefuls to review and even laugh about. There are many such forums, of course, only a few involving the RPF. Here, ideas are churned out to review the chaff of bad performance for condemnation and the wheat of good performance for commendation. The aim is to awaken leaders in all fields who serve the citizenry to the pressing urgency of building a better future for them (citizens) and their progeny. The yearly National Retreat, National Dialogue, frequent citizen’s outreaches, others, at all levels down to the village level. The pertinence of them all, President Paul Kagame long ago summed up in a few succinct words: “Where others are walking, we must run!” The century lost in retrogression calls for supersonic speed to recover. “Supersonic speed” which, on a lighter note, during our exile, somebody translated as “sipidi y’ekijungirizi”. Those who understand the lingo, doesn’t it more sharply bring out the true resolve? In such a gathering, I remember a guest from a neighbouring country asking President Kagame to go soft on government officials. After all, said he, on many indices, Rwanda was among the best performers in Africa. I don’t recall the president’s precise answer but it was something to the effect that we in Rwanda are not engaged in competition with anybody. We aim to do our best to uplift our livelihoods, full stop. If that “best” beats the world, let alone Africa, well and good. And so was it with the last General Congress. Its aim was to assess the state of the necessary performances and make the RPF members in leadership account to the other members. Heads of opposition parties, also invited, would relay the message to their members for a comparable purpose. All would frankly, transparently, in all fairness to all, recount and answer for wherever they’d fallen short or invite praise where they’d done a good job of work. On the unity and progress of the nation, all parties were in unison. If you are not for nation-building or are for undermining the state instead, then your place is in foreign bushes or at a foreign street corner, tendering a begging bowl. The topics were diverse. Were citizens getting goods and services to their satisfaction? Poverty, poor harvest, malnutrition, poor service delivery, inaccessibility of clean drinking water, soil erosion, climate change ill-effects, acquisition of government requisites, the lot, was everything being done to address them to the satisfaction of the population? Well, dear official, pity to thee if you fell short somewhere! The tongue-lash came fast and furious. The saving grace was an elder sage who reminded President Kagame how the RPF started with only a tiny group understanding its mission. And how now the citizen is king! It may have brought cheery clamour, with all reminded of the pit the country emerged from in 1994. Still, it did little to assuage the denunciation of those who did not fully apply themselves to satisfactorily serve the populace. All is well of course. Rwanda is holding her own on this continent and some outside places. But what’s gnawing at President Kagame’s heart will not go away: for comparison, not competition, if in Singapore an average household income per capita is 23,854 USD, and the erstwhile poverty-stricken island achieved this in a generation, why can’t Rwanda? All in good time, you’ll say, but for him, that time is now! Because 28 years is the time of a generation and we are not there. There is no reason in the world why not! Mother Nature’s humans are of the same capacity in all areas and so, why not? Conditions are different, you’ll advance, but as conditions are so, so do humans adapt to theirs accordingly. Which brings to mind our sterling job in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. As the government has brought all available hands on deck, it has included the youth who volunteered to go out tirelessly and enforce regulations, working with the existing government institutions and community workers. Why not call upon them now to seal loopholes where officials can’t? Equipped with an official badge, the youth can dig out shoddy work in service delivery (even if here the RDB has been quick to respond n’uburakare bukabije!), procurement areas, tendering areas, dietary care areas for children, on the vexing question of land allocation and home constructions according to master plans, etcetera. Only, care must be taken to only consider youth with a strong sense of patriotism. Those who are totally sacrificed to their work and don’t hanker for ostentations like millions-worth of wedding celebrations on purely fundraised funds! Pecuniary inducement is in order for their work and enjoyment of prospects of being part of the cadre among whom will emerge our future leaders. And among which leaders, one visionary par excellence, master military strategist, top diplomatic gymnast, unifier of sworn adversaries, the lot? Well, well, ask me another!