Senior citizens who, by dint of your hard work, have made it into the class of those owning jalopies, know this. In the morning, you hear your brood piping, “Dad/Mom, we’ll be late!”
You try to impress upon them the need for hard work; that nothing comes easy in life, with: “You know, kids, in my childhood I used to walk 12km to school and 12km back.”
They, too, you make it clear, could skip along to school, a short 5km distance.
The little imps, slouching on the couch as they wait, shoot back: “But dad/mom, did your parents own a car?” You are lost for words and off, the progeny you drive.
However, at times there comes one out of the offspring who says: “Oh, yes, we can!” And happily, he/she gallops off and refuses to relish the comfort of an unnecessary lift to school.
That kid who rejects to be confined in the mould of adopted habits disrupts commonly accepted mind-set of dependence on favours so as to enjoy challenging him/herself, is likely to influence many among those lazy rascals.
These latter most often find themselves following suit and relishing the play on the way to school or involvement in work when they grow older.
Like copying the older son/daughter who, finding themselves in some business sweated for by their parents, rejects simply reaping from it without adding value to it. Helping with innovative diversification or turning it into an intensive profit-maker, for instance.
These thoughts occurred to me as I watched the inauguration of the ultra-modern Kigali Arena.
I am known to sing praises to the Chinese for their hard work. I still do but I never, for one moment and for the life of me, thought any African could do anything anywhere near as swiftly as they. Say, the marvel of constructing and completing a thirty-story building in six months. And a shorter one in six days, flat!
Then, the wonder of wonders, last week I saw an ultra-modern arena. Yes, constructed and completed in six months. And, yes, in Kigali, Rwanda!
I’d been passing by its construction and taking it to be one of these constructions coming up that’d be uncovered after a few years and then, voilà. There it was, complete and glittering.
In 1994, it was practically impossible to find one construction that was complete. It was common to see metals sticking out of the ground floor of a supposed-to-be six-storey-building, with all the hazards of the loose concrete supporting the metals.
Yet, those shops and offices were bustling with activity, without a care in the world.
I remember when, on observing those metals sticking out of concrete, a bewildered then-Vice–President Kagame asked: “Why are those metals sticking so dangerously out of those buildings?” He thought they were already complete, as one-floor buildings!
A government minister who’d lived here long answered matter-of-factly: “Sir, the owners are waiting to gather enough rent money from those shops and offices. Then they’ll add another floor and earn from both floors and so on, till they complete.”
The fellow was wearing the kind of face that said it was simply common sense!
When the vice-president asked why owners could not secure bank loans for completion, then repay later, as they’d be earning more already, all the fellow could mutter was: “Huh…!”
Also, one time in Mainz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, Vice-President Kagame observed a nice, tall building and remarked: “This nice building, why shouldn’t we build one like it?” A different mister with him, also a veteran of the Rwanda of then, looked at him incredulously and chuckled: “But sir, these are built by Abazungu (Whites)!”
The vice-president looked at his equally incredulous entourage and kept mum.
Today, most of those incomplete metals-in-the-air buildings have been replaced by shiny glass-and-concrete all but skyscrapers, many much better than that Mainz building.
What has changed, you may ask.
Breaking out of the usual, rejecting the old mould, disrupting the old mindset, that’s what.
A few Rwandans who had no such handicapping baggage and others who broke with the “that’s-how-things-have-always-been-done” mind-set and espoused a mind-set change slowly diffused a new ethos of hard work among the populace and that’s how this land has moulted into a totally different nation. A nation that ceaselessly seeks to better itself.
So, today Rwanda is among the safest countries in the world. Among the cleanest, fastest-growing, most ‘government-efficient’, fastest shrinking ‘donor-dependent’, best citizen-service givers, say it.
Faking statistical data of growth for what, when you are weaning yourself off donor aid?
These self-exiled felonious phonies, so-called revolutionaries who thought after the armed struggle of the 1990s it was time to ‘eat’, will cling on any straw for self-justification, of course.
With their avarice, they could not begin to understand that this land is gunning for a seat among the best citizen-comfort-giver countries of the world.
They can eat their hearts out because, however long it takes, whatever collaboration it requires, those are this land’s sights! But even then, total liberation won’t have been achieved yet.
Not even when Rwandans, on their own, say, complete a 60-storey building in six days!
The views expressed in this article are of the author.