It may not be totally unexpected, but it certainly is a surprisingly meaningful coincidence. This year, on the 4th of July 2020, Rwanda celebrated 26 years of liberation and did so in the twin ages of African dignity (Agaciro) and microbiology (Covid-19).
Let me start with Agaciro. Twenty-six years ago, Rwanda was a state in a downward spiral of self-destruction. the epitome of the century of genocide, as the 20th century has come to be known. A perfect marriage between a murderous neo-colonial enterprise and a fascist, politically bankrupt African elite had reached its climax.
As one western leader said at this time, Genocide, in such places (Rwanda) did not really matter. 1994 Rwanda was proof if any were needed, that IMPERIAL Europe’s rape of Africa was not coitus interruptus
The inheritors of Parmehutu ideology in Rwanda, including late Juvenal Habyarimana, readily obliged, planned, and executed the mass murder of over one million of their compatriots. – but there was a group of determined selfless young men and women who refused to accept what was and chose to focus on what Rwanda could be.
The Rwandese Patriotic Front under the leadership of now-President Paul Kagame, stopped the genocide, a first in world history, and set out to build a united, reconciled, prosperous dignified nation.– what began as a struggle for the return of Rwandan dignity (Agaciro) has now organically transformed itself into the re-affirmation of African dignity.
That is the meaning of the Rwanda liberation day celebration this year: A memorable 4th of July in the age of African dignity.
I still believe this is an African century – Africans must rise, organise and claim it.
The reality though seems to be that Africans will have to share this century with microbiology in the post-Covid-19 era. Ownership of the century also means protecting lives, safeguarding livelihoods, and finding the right paths to recover and grow together.
Africa’s future will be determined, not by economics only as some believe, but by microbiology and epidemiology. That is why, how our countries handle the current Covid-19 pandemic is important for the entire continent. It is a reflection, not only of our present, but of our future as adynamic prosperous continent.
From the Athens of ancient Greece, the rise of China, the fall of Rome, the end of Spain as a great maritime power – and the rise and fall of great nations in Africa; epidemics have been a key player in the affairs of men and nations. This is not likely to change.
Bubonic plague (Yesinia Pestis), shigellosis, plasmodium falciparum [malaria), tuberculosis, leprosy, microbes have been constant companions in the rise and fall of empires and States. They are closely intertwined with climate change, that other constant companion.
Therefore, Rwanda’s celebration of liberation, the affirmation of her dignity, and the fight against Covid-19 cannot be divorced one from the other – and what Rwandans can and should do is a microcosm of the path Africa can and should pursue.to prosper, we must control and ride our horses lest the four horsemen of the apocalypse derail our visions, strategies and plans.
It is an exciting responsibility. It is a heavy one too, but that, in my opinion is the meaning of liberation in the age of Agaciro and microbiology.