A week ago today, we celebrated Liberation Day. On such day, we thank the many young men and women who made enormous sacrifices to free this country and save it from destruction.
We also pay tribute to the many thousands of Rwandan patriots, many of whom were barely able to get by, who gave all they had so that this country could get a new beginning.
Their combined efforts led to the final liberation of Rwanda, turned its fortunes around and put it firmly on the road to good governance and prosperity.
On August 4 Rwandans will exercise the right to freely choose the person we think is best suited to lead us to greater prosperity. At the end of it, on August 5 (most likely a few hours earlier) we shall celebrate that choice and be grateful that we have had our wish.
A few days later will be Thanksgiving Day, or Feast of the Harvest, or Umuganura to give it its proper name in Kinyarwanda.
So it is a season of gratitude. But gratitude should not be a seasonal thing, but a permanent feature of our everyday value system. Indeed we were brought up looking at gratitude, like modesty and simplicity, as a virtue and possessing it was the mark of good upbringing.
Its absence, on the other hand, meant one was uncultured.
However, for some, gratitude is an alien concept.
The other day I was reminded of this truth by the pronouncements of a certain elderly gentleman who has chosen to turn his back on his country that has given him everything.
The story is that twenty three years ago the RPF gave him money to buy attire suitable for his new status as prime minister. Nonsense, he said, no such thing ever happened, and added that he was no pauper.
And so he vehemently denied he ever benefitted from RPF generosity.
You cannot accuse the old man of modesty or humility. Bluster and bombast are more natural to him. And so he was in his element when he rubbished talk of RPF buying him a suit.
We may forgive the old man. In his universe twenty three years may appear like aeon and he is not expected to remember clearly what happened all those ages ago.
But June 17 is only a little over three weeks ago and he once again benefitted from RPF generosity but still refused to say thank you.
You see, the man has been in limbo for quite a while. Not a word from him. Not a sighting of the man. Not a mention anywhere.
And then the RPF does him this favour and gets him out of wherever he had retired to and brings him back to life. He is now full of voice again, lambasting everyone as is his wont.
He has even learnt how to tweet. And still he is ungrateful to the people who got him from limbo.
To be fair to the old man, he is not alone. A certain young lady, and others of similar ilk before her, appeared on the scene full of bluster and rage and bad manners of another sort, telling us that they want to lead our country; that in fact we would be the poorer for it if we did not seize the opportunity they were presenting us.
The response from around the country was swift. Not so fast, young lady. Calm down. Remember your manners. Be civil. Seek our opinion; don’t impose yourself. Above all don’t insult our collective effort that has brought us to where we are.
The same advice has been given to a few others but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
Instead of trying to persuade Rwandans that she and others like her are the right people to provide the leadership that will propel Rwanda to another plane, they rush to foreign envoys to complain and seek support on how to win us over.
The envoys are, of course, only too happy to oblige and give instructions on how Rwanda should be governed and what choices we should make.
Our elderly gentleman should have told them that foreigners don’t vote. Nor do they direct how the vote is done. Maybe he did and they didn’t listen, which is also ingratitude.
In any case, in our values, and I think in theirs too, it is bad manners for a guest to tell his host how to manage his home.
Luckily, ingrates are not a common breed in Rwanda, as we are constantly reminded by decent, ordinary people. They did so again last week.
While our elderly man fumed his denial of getting help from fellow Rwandans, and the young lady, pushed to the fore by some disgraced individuals too embarrassed by their deeds to show their face and hand, was forgetting her manners and raging against the people she was seeking to lead, Rwandans across the country were proudly showing their appreciation for the distance they have travelled in the last two decades.
We heard and saw it on Liberation Day. We saw the delight of ordinary people at being given modern houses they thought were not meant for their kind. We saw on their faces the satisfaction of people enjoying being alive, secure in the knowledge that they will not only see the next day, but the one after and many years ahead.
We heard stories of milestones reached in personal lives as well as those of communities.
There was enough gratitude to fill the country many times over today and for a long time to come. The ill-bred can keep their bad manners. They will not be missed.Follow https://twitter.com/jrwagatare