As Rwandans bask in the glory of one of their own clinching the post of Secretary General of l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), never, for a single second, should they lose sight of the mission that they set out to fulfil. It should be down to brass tacks post-haste.
They cannot afford to disappoint.
Granted, in winning over the confidence of the Francophone world, Mme Louise Mushikiwabo and her fellow Rwandans who fronted her put in lots of effort to beat unimaginable odds; that chair at the helm was not there for the picking.
Especially for one who hailed from a country that only recently (yes) had spurned the idea of depending on French as sole official language.
And, profanity of profanities, had opted for inferior English as bedfellow to French, la langue suprème de Molière!
Of course, French was not the only official language. But the insult was that French should cohabit with English, as a number of scandalised Francophiles were quick to bitterly spit out.
But, as it turned out, to no effect. Notre Louise carried the day. Many were behind her, the entire African continent first and foremost, because of their confidence in Rwanda.
And so Rwandans must demonstrate that they did not earn this confidence in vain. Come January 2019, the mission must be embarked upon in earnest.
The mission: to build bridges among the diverse peoples of this earth.
To establish that whatever language, race, colour or creed, we are all one. Male or female, young or old, as the Kenyan Prof PLO Lumumba would fllamboyantly put it: “You knooooww, there are no children of a lesser God.” For that and more, let’s put our diversity to the service of our varied assets to build and support a strong, united world community.
Considering where this country is coming from, and that Mushikiwabo has lived it all, fulfilling the task entrusted in her should not be beyond her.
If the Commonwealth has been enriched by inclusion of Lusophones and then-Francophones, l’OIF should see the sense in embracing other ‘-phones’. So, Africans, leave your seclusions and nail your colours to the mast. Reach for and support one another to secure these positions!
For having seen it all, Rwandans believe in ‘humanity-phone’. Period.
The world knows how a section of Rwandans thought they were “children of a greater God”. How, these enjoyed the backing of those “of a much superior God” who could kill mainly in defence of their ‘-phone’. And how together these almost effected an elimination of some Rwandans, so-considered “of a lesser God”.
To-date, the world cannot wrap its mind around the fact of how a society polarised to that inestimable extent could unfathomably rally together again in unity and reconciliation. And go beyond to realise mounting progress, where before there was retrogression.
This feat opened a wide vista of possibilities of giving this progress greater momentum.
Rwandans thus found wisdom in opening up to the world, starting from home. As member of the Francophone Communauté Economique des Pays des Grands Lacs already, there was need to spread her wings wider.
With her humble request, Rwanda was able to join the Anglophone East African Community, which grew from three countries to four members. And soon turned into a six-strong EAC.
And counting, if only some leaders in this region could stop keeping their populations under the veil of imaginary threats from without. And others, free theirs from shrinking nativist cocoons, in the false name of protecting their riches.
Then their people would be free to ‘smell the prosperity’ that’d accrue from an alliance of diverse fortes.
Luckily, with a strong African Union that today speaks with one voice, as Mushikiwabo’s backing has further confirmed, these will soon be awake to the benefits of unfettered concord of our African nations.
Wasn’t it only the other day when a Francophone African couldn’t agree with an Anglophone African on anything, unless an order came from Paris for the Francophone or, maybe, London for the Anglophone?
Whatever the case, there need be a convergence of concurrences among other integrated African groupings, too, for all of them to make the AU a one-mind rendezvous. From where, Africa can join the rest of the world in a partnership of equals.
Mind you, in trying to fulfil the mission of building the aforesaid bridges, it’s not as if Rwanda will be taking off from ground zero. Nay, in trying to spread the wings of Rwandair, her airline, to a worldwide web (!) of destinations, she is already doing justice to that purpose.
As she is reaching out to the world, so has she opened her doors to it, if only to act as an example of how l’union fait la force. With open doors to investors, tourists and the like and scouring the world for wisdom (kurahura ubwenge), she cannot go wrong. The great mind behind this idea – and more – has never once miscalculated.
Underprivileged of the world, let’s try this out and, as sure as tomorrow will follow today, we shall bask in the wealth of our peoples, especially our youth.
Seeking to steer l’OIF is one step in that direction.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.