Despite achievements, more needs to be done

Editor, RE: “The vision thing: Are Rwandans in danger of getting too complacent?” (The New Times, October 12).


RE: “The vision thing: Are Rwandans in danger of getting too complacent?” (The New Times, October 12).

Compared to where we were just 20 years ago, Rwanda has notched incredibly giant steps that we should rightly feel a measure of pride about. But that is also partly a result of the extremely low baseline we started from.

Yes, let us recognise that our collective efforts have brought us far since that very dark, immediate post-Genocide era, when our country was physically broken and our entire populace was exceedingly traumatized.

But while acknowledging and celebrating our real achievements as a nation on the mend, don’t let us kid ourselves either. We remain a desperately poor country that needs to work harder than anybody else, including in our immediate neighbourhood just so as to pull ourselves to their level. In these circumstances, complacency should be the last thing on our minds.

Winston Churchill’s ringing speech to his country’s House of Commons on May 13, 1940, promising his fellow Britons “blood, toil, tears and sweat” immediately after getting the King’s Commission to form the government within the first year of the breaking out of World War II, always comes to mind as I consider our situation, where we are and where we aspire to be.

Another example that springs to mind is the fact that in 1964, barely 19 years after its total destruction, Japan hosted the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964.

Think of it — 19 years only to welcome the entire world to celebrate together with you after one of the worst firebombing destruction the world has ever seen; for Tokyo arguably experienced greater destruction and human casualties from massive conventional firebombing than even the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

And yet only 19 years later, a rebuilt Tokyo welcomed the world to celebrate human sporting prowess, including that of a barefooted legend from Africa’s Abyssinian Highlands, Abebe Bikila.

Let our President continue to demand more of us; he owes it to us to prevent us resting on our very modest laurels (an apt term, given the Olympic simile we have just brought up).

Mwene Kalinda


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