I have always found one of the most important pillars of Rwanda’s strength to be its ability to successfully infuse the Rwandan identity from generation to generation with both dignity and pride.
Irrespective of one’s last name or whether one was born in a city or village, we are all here to serve a common purpose – maximizing our opportunities and managing the challenges effectively.
I am afraid to say these fundamentals that bind together Rwanda’s social fabric, and which were attained through much sacrifice, seem threatened by the country’s recent and ongoing corruption scandals, as well as people’s unwillingness to change their sluggish way of conducting business.
This is aggravated by the fact that some of the population has illogically begun their own personal agendas, at the expense of a shared objective of the entire society subscribed to.
It is indeed disturbing to read in the newspaper every morning of at least one corruption case. And corruption should not be treated in relative terms.
First of all, corruption is corruption, no matter the magnitude, and should not be acceptable.
Second, we shouldn’t benchmark ourselves with the region anymore because we are, and should be thinking of ourselves as, being in a different league now; we should be comparing ourselves against our equivalents if we want to push ourselves towards greater success.
Like any Rwandan, I appreciate the determination and hard work that has yielded Rwanda’s recent level of success. At the same time, however, we should remember that our journey towards success and economic development has only just begun.
While some people believe the job is almost done, and have already started popping champagne bottles, we still have a long way to go.
Complacency and corruption, as mentioned above, will only destroy all of the good work our country has put forth so far, as well as the strong foundation upon which it has constructed.
This is indeed a difficult period for Rwanda in its quest for wealth and prosperity creation, and whoever has been entrusted the task should do it with both humility and dignity, the very Rwandan identity that our parents have worked so hard to pass to posterity.
Each successor generation of Rwandans must build on these assets and work out their solutions to new problems, seize new opportunities and avoid impending disasters in an ever changing world.
The perennial challenge is to remain competitive. To be competitive, we must remain a cohesive, dignified, alert, hardworking nation based on meritocracy.
We have to strengthen our national consciousness at a time when the forces of globalisation are deconstructing the very notion of nationhood.
It is an exciting period to be part of “Team Rwanda,” but when sitting in that office, remember that you are not doing this for yourself only but rather for the future.
It will be important to always acknowledge the many others who started this journey but did not have the joy of completing it.
Our continued and sustainable success will depend on us doing that which our parents- and their parents before them- have always done; live by and pass on those traits of our Rwandan identity that have been so important to us from the beginning of time.
This way, we build not only our prosperity, but the strong social base that will be able to maintain and grow this prosperity.
The author is studying in Singapore