The past few weeks have seen huge international focus on Rwanda usually of the negative sort. Unfortunately for those behind this conspiracy, the people of Rwanda, and indeed their Government, have proudly looked down upon this cheap politicking and are determined to move on.
The Rwandan people realise that the journey they have embarked on of building a united and prosperous Rwanda is not without hurdles. That’s why after listening to whatever falsehood is peddled, ordinary Rwandans seem unbothered, as they keep going about their work as usual.
No, they are too busy to worry about whatever distorted information coming through the foreign airwaves or if our gutter journalism is factual.
The reason is simple. No one knows better than the Rwandan people that the current Rwanda is a direct result of their sustained collective hard work, and that no amount of political manipulation can ever make them betray the sacrifices made by many of their comrades, who proudly laid down their lives in order for their country to gain the kind of status and respect it commands today.
Having already enjoyed the early fruits of liberation in countless ways, this is a people who clearly show no signs of fatigue and who highly deride the act of retreat.
They are forever committed and loyal to the cause –putting the national interest above anyone else’s, hard work, education for their children, and creating and jealously guarding a country that is suitable for all Rwandans.
A recent study by Gallup, an international polling firm, has unsurprisingly ranked Rwandans as the most optimistic citizens, just behind the people of Djibouti, on the African continent. Globally, Rwandans ranked sixth.
That 62 percent of Rwandans are confident about the future is no surprise, if one was to fairly consider where we’ve come from and the future we all see.
For the citizens, the result of the survey is another vote of confidence in the Government. What a disappointment to some camps! And with the elections around the corner, such a finding by an independent firm, which has nothing to do with the Kigali administration, must be a rude reminder to all the critics that the people of Rwanda just have no reason to ditch their hard-earned achievements and aspirations.
They realise that what they need to do is not to look back but rather to sustain their quest for development and dignity.
If you take a look at Rwandans today, you’ll realise that we are happier, safer and freer than any time before. The same vigour and legitimacy with which peace-loving Rwandans stopped the Genocide against the Tutsi 16 years ago, and went on to secure the country’s borders, as well as creating and maintaining security for all citizens, is evidently as alive today as it was then.
Today, the challenge is to steer this nation and its people to its rightful place – taking it from the category of poor nations and making it into one that is self-sustaining and competitive economically. And this is achievable.
A few days ago, I was gladly shocked when I met a Rwandan in Gicumbi District whose story I am sure will reflect many unreported success stories. This man started from a humble beginning about 14 years ago when he exhumed the motorcycle he had buried just before he fled at the height of the Genocide. Upon his return, he sold his motorcycle for Frw100,000, which he used as capital for a small carpentry workshop.
Today, he’s a multimillionaire and a respected entrepreneur who now competes for construction tenders in the region. He’s just one of the many whose stories do not attract the ‘big wigs’ of international journalism, but who make real change in their communities.
More and more Rwandans are increasingly hitting this amazing road...
James Munyaneza is The New Times’ Associate Training Editor.