Rwanda is not coming down; she is on the up and up!

Last week a minor requirement gave me a headache. The census of civil servants was launched to rid the civil service of any likely civil service ‘ghosts’ (non-existent civil servants who may be on the payroll).

Last week a minor requirement gave me a headache. The census of civil servants was launched to rid the civil service of any likely civil service ‘ghosts’ (non-existent civil servants who may be on the payroll).

The exercise is being carried out by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda on behalf of the Ministry of Public Service and Labour.

The minor requirement was that I’d need the services of the Notary Public, as this calls for provision of certified copies of one’s qualification papers. Now, the last time I’d gone through the same exercise had been 1996, when the Rwandan government was struggling to find its feet.

Then, offices of the Notary Public were situated in the Ministry of Justice in Kigali and no branch existed anywhere.

You can imagine the bedlam that reigned when the whole country converged on the ministry, jostling for the Notary Public’s precious signature and stamps.

For that reason, I thought better to seek out advice as to whether there has been any change since. And, indeed, I was told I could access the same services at a lower administration level, the nearest district or even sector offices.

When I went to the sector office nearest my work station, I secured the signature and stamps from the acting executive secretary in less than five minutes. This may be a trivial service improvement but, surely, it is not totally insignificant.

Rwandan leaders had just signed renewals of their performance contracts after reviewing their accomplishments in their performances of the previous year. They are going about their work seriously, it seems.

Yes, they may exaggerate here and there, but remember they are assessed by the concerned departments. Also, they are being closely monitored by their people.

Of course, anybody who talks positively about the progress Rwanda is making in her transformational process is usually termed a praise singer of the Rwandan leaders. I know that but I also know that only cynics are averse to giving credit where it is due.

How lowly would you be rating these leaders if you gave them undeserved credit? And how vain would they be, if they were to relish unearned praise?

No, Rwanda was dead only the other day and it is our duty, as people who care for the dignity of humanity, to give her encouragement when we see her dragging herself out of the mire of the shame that was visited on her.

For, the case quoted above is not in isolation. Be it in the sector of services, health, education, justice, name it; be it in reconciliation, social welfare and others; in all areas improvements in the last 16 years have been remarkable. That fact is there for all to see and it defies denial.

Yet, Timothy Kalyegira (‘The Independent’, 12.07.10) is puzzled “to see Ugandan journalists constantly praising Rwanda because street lights work and the roundabouts along the Kigali city network have flowers.”

But again, he doesn’t stop to think that they may be seeing something he is not. They are seeing that the cleanliness and orderliness of Kigali are only a symptom of a society that has got a grip on what they want to be and are working hard on it, thanks to a leadership that is guided by the aspirations of its people.

You are right, Kalyegira, “a state is not just about buildings, street lights or a functional civil service.” You are only wrong if you don’t know that Rwandans agree with you on that point.

Rwandans do not dabble in impressions; they function. If seeing Rwanda makes you think of the pictures of Namibia, Mauritius, Seychelles, Morocco and the other countries you cite, it’s not because it is a happenstance: those African countries are on the move forward.

They are countries whose states, like in your marriage (hopefully!), “are resolving differences, balancing needs…preferences and compromises” and focussing “on economic growth and management.” These, indeed, are some of the aspects that undergird the state of Rwanda.

No, there is no “strained effort since 1994 to blot out in total any reference to ethnicity”. There is a deliberate effort to demonstrate the futility of ethnic bigotry. Mention of ethnic identity is not banned as is usually erroneously reported. It is de-emphasised as it does not contribute to common cause of a united Rwanda.

“Between 1959 and 1994, there seemed to be a stable situation in Rwanda.” Kalyegira, really? During that time, close to 2 million Rwandans were barred from entering their country and a further 2 million inside the country had been stripped of all their rights.

In his zeal to satisfy his cynical streak, Kalyegira sounds as ludicrous as someone whose names have been “changed to hide identity”, writing in ‘The Standard’ of Kenya around the same date.

About Rwanda, the writer says something “could just go horribly wrong yet in the land of a thousand hills” because “there is a certain feeling of déjà-vu hovering over Rwanda’s fearsome population.” Whoever you are, perish the thought! For your info, a more courageous people you’ve never met!

On the lies about vuvuzelas at the Liberation Day celebrations, is that your laboured attempt at a rhyme? Déjà-vuvu (for vuvuzela) and déjà-vu?

Anyway, we may be accused of playing to the gallery – but better that than to be married to the peanut gallery!

pbutam@yahoo.com

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