It’s a little space but, believe it or not, Rwanda shows Singapore a clean pair of heels. As per the global Northern think-tanks and media, Singapore is the role model for the Rwandan leadership, the only positive they’ve favoured it with. “Positive” because it’s true this leadership has followed Singapore’s development trajectory, among others, and admired it. However, let it not be lost on anyone that the North stated this for fear that we, as Rwandans, were actually going to take a similar route. Well, their dreaded supposition came to be true, but that’s their ulcer! Our hero, isn’t it exciting to us both that when it comes to being plastic-free, you as our appreciated given idol cannot touch us with a 10-km-long pole? This fact was reported by Singaporean Aqill Haziq Mahmud when he accompanied Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, here for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and bilateral talks with President Paul Kagame. It warms our hearts to hear that we can outperform our admired shining example, even if it’s in a tiny niche. It shows we are on the right path. Mr Mahmud, considering that we are coming from a place of near-extermination, total material pillage and hardly any natural resources to write home about or any advantageous location, you understand that the littlest cheer you accord us matters to us. Because your country as our star was left badly shaken by hostile neighbours and our common bête noire, colonialism, but not totally broken. To your country’s advantage, moreover, it was the confluence port for nearly all sea trade routes of the world. Still, your country deserves plaudits for sprinting from third world to first, in a generation. And, more importantly, your leadership for cultivating in every citizen the values of “hard work”, “yes-we-can”, “we-are-one”, “our-dignity-or-nothing”, “it’s-our-way-or-it’s-no-way”, “it’s-work-overboard-or-it’s-no-work”. For such and other pillars of integrity, the North was right we idolise Singapore and are happy to be recognised by one of its own. But in my opinion, Rwanda does not necessarily crave racing to first world from third. Methinks her craving is to sit square in the mind-set of those mentioned pillars of integrity. Good friend, maybe you visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial. With limited time, however, you couldnt find out that it was a small symbol of the Armageddon that was visited on Rwanda. How Rwandans came from there to now rendering this country plastic-free is a result of that “it’s-our-way-or-it’s-no-way” ethos. That spirit produced a minor miracle that would’ve won the Nobel Prize (which Rwandans give no fig about, anyway, and certainly would’ve rejected) if the North hadn’t in no small measure been complicit (from beginning to end) in that very Armageddon. So it instead resulted in their constant volleys of tongue lashes we still feel today, but easily shrug off. That minor miracle happened thanks to Gacaca. This was a traditional court system that brought together millions of perpetrators of the Genocide against the Tutsi (said Armageddon) and their victim-survivors for the former to frankly confess their gory deeds and for the latter to painfully listen in and accept them as truth or reject, as falsehoods. A panel of fellow villagers, strictly those of integrity, sat and listened in to make judgements and pass sentences of punishment for guilty perpetrators and acquit deserving ones, to the satisfaction of the victims. But first and foremost, they sought to build reconciliation wherever it was possible. The resultant sterling job surpassed everybody’s expectations but will never cease to be a thorn in the North’s neck – neck? A more sensitive part! Thus, the tongue whips to-date. From there to unity and vision for a collective future of prosperity. And, as we know, l’unité fait la force. Rwandans and their visionary leadership in their force embarked on putting that adage to fruition and the rest was cleanliness on the inside that was reflected on the outside. Health for all, with universal health insurance and health facilities at all fingertips. Education for all, with universal 12-year free education and schools within easy reach. Quality in both cases still lags behind, but all in good time. Respectable settlement for all has meant the construction of model villages for all who are vulnerable. Don’t be deceived by the word “village”, however, because these are blocks of flats that are the envy of city residences. They are now dotting many areas of this country and by the time all are built, Rwanda will be a transformed country. For information, they are dotting the landscape of Rwanda for a purpose. From Village Urugwiro, wherein the Office of the President, to all the model villages of the country, they are dotting the country to give way for our biodiversity to flourish and give chance to our environment to breathe clean air. All the above is, of course, only the tip of the iceberg in regard to all the things happening in this country. Clean, green, biodegradables, lots more perks, and no first-world concrete jungles for us is our motto. That is if the rapidly climate-changing global North does not soon annihilate our planet.