The seventh edition of Rwanda Day which took place last Saturday October 3, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, was nothing short of a spectacle coated with ounces of patriotism, flashes of ambiance, and last but not least, traces of achievement by a country whose dark historical facts would have seduced historians to earmark it as nothing but a failed state.
But this was an event to mark the opposite of a failed state. Having pulled together in one place a little over 4,000 Rwandans living in the diaspora including friends of Rwanda from around the world, members of the Rwanda private sector, senior Rwandan government officials, and the man himself, President Paul Kagame, this year’s edition of Rwanda Day spelt out a message which in my opinion every Rwandan should memorise and live by.
The collective message was simple and straightforward: we must take control of our own destiny.
Speaking at the event as the guest of honour, President Kagame called on Rwandans in the diaspora and those at home to work together to transform Rwanda into a country they can all be proud to call home for generations to come.
In an attempt to remind Rwandans that only ownership and hard-work will yield results, President Kagame had this to say: “Nations that made progress in the last 50 years leaving Africa behind made progress because they chose to define their own path. Africa is where it is because we chose to be defined and developed by others.
What you see today is what they wanted us to become. If we want to be a new Rwanda, change the course of our history, we must define our own life.”
The Head of State further challenged all that were present to dictate how they live their lives and not to simply surrender to those who wish to set standards which are often motivated by ulterior motives.
He said: “Living the way others want you to live is not living fully. And why would you want to live like that when you could be living life according to your own standards? Unless you don’t want to live, and I don’t associate with those who do not want to live. We still have many people in Rwanda or across Africa, who just wait for others to find a way of life for them.”
By the same token, as the President addressed the event’s participants, some of whom had spent Friday night on the road traveling from countries such as Belgium, Sweden, France, and the UK, he made other important points, and today I wish to share two of them:
Facts speak for themselves
While challenging bogus critics who constantly undermine the achievements Rwanda has registered thus far, President Kagame stressed that Rwanda’s continued development is not based on rhetoric as some critics will have you believe, instead, the development efforts can be seen because all of it is based on evidence and facts verified by external assessors.
“How could you dare say that Rwanda, following its terrible history, is still the same and yet it has achieved development? People have moved from thatched houses, as the singer who performed earlier said, people are getting health insurance, Rwandan children have access to education – school enrolment rate in Rwanda is the highest in Africa. I am not the author of this, nor am I in charge of evaluation. I can tell you ten facts showing Rwanda’s advanced step ahead of other countries in Africa and elsewhere,” remarked a visibly relaxed President whose charisma, honesty and energy are as powerful as his ability to make every Rwanda feel valued.
To the youth
Before his concluding remarks, President Kagame as he has done in previous editions of Rwanda Day, reminded the youth who had been well represented at the event that Rwanda is theirs to change and drive forward, but this, the President observed, can only be achieved with the application of vision supported by discipline.
President Kagame maintained that “it is impossible to develop without a vision, without discipline to sustain that vision. A person can have discipline but a society does too, it has a code of conduct; the people, the mentality, all contribute to shaping a clear vision of what is to be reached. That is my wish for Rwanda, this is what we all fight for: for Rwandans to have a say.”
As can be seen, Rwanda Day editions provide a platform for Rwandans living in the Diaspora to reconnect with their country but also with those in the driving seat.
This edition was in my opinion a special one because it did not only serve to galvanise Rwandans to come together and work hard to transform their country, it also served to remind those who continue to dispute, undermine and bash Rwanda’s achievements for reasons only known to them that no matter what they say, Rwanda has already turned a page – and if you wish to join the efforts you are more than welcome to do so, but similarly, if you choose to play foe, your deceitful ways are numbered because the truth cannot remain obscured.
Sooner or later your lies will be exposed.