Umushyikirano is both a true testament to the democratic principles of the Republic of Rwanda and fascinating in that the entire country is willing to participate so freely. This is my third Umushyikirano, and I found this event very different from the rest. This Umushyikirano was more focused, more directed and more prescriptive. The dialogue dealt with issues head-on. The transformation of Rwanda being the main focus brought the best thinkers to the discussions after President Kagame provided the assembled audiences in Kigali, in centres around Rwanda and through social media with his “state of the nation”. It is easy to witness the constantly progressing nation but hearing the words from the President puts everything in context through a caring leader. To many, my words may seem mundane, but what impresses many of the “friends of Rwanda” is the intense sincerity of President Kagame’s speech and the passionate resolve of his actions. Rwanda is number one.
From what was stated in the national dialogue, the national transformation of Rwanda, the continued improvements needed in education and other sectors are a call to action for the entire nation to work together. The statement “Rwanda - We Can” has a much deeper meaning than just a catchy phrase. Rwanda - WE CAN is the commitment by everyone from the President to the children in the primary schools to seek self-fulfilling improvement. To not expect what your country can do for you, but what you, as a citizen, can do for your country will help Rwanda. A similar challenge was issued in the United States by a young president – John F. Kennedy, and as a result, the United States committed itself to reaching the moon, to fighting ignorance and to working to solve poverty. The message of Umushyikirano was, in fact, a call to action, to realise that every Rwandan can work toward the success of the whole and that Rwanda will continue to improve.
At the end, President Kagame, in his sincere direct leadership style, charged Rwandans to focus on the issues of drug addiction. In many countries, an issue like drug addiction would be ignored or swept under the rug, but in Rwanda, with a caring Kagame as a leader, the issue was acknowledged and it was most evident that plans were in motion to address this evil of drugs as a detriment of any generation.
In his closing remarks, the humble Kagame asked for people to “stop thanking” him. He went on to say that there is no need to address him over and over as “President of the Republic” and just Mr President will do. The humility of this great leader, this citizen leader, this protector of Rwanda stunned me as the leaders in western governments enjoy the verbose constant reminders of their position, power, and title.
But on one point, I strongly disagree.
Mr. President, in these troubled times where so much is fake, so much is a sham. You are real. Your commitment to the people of Rwanda and to the people of the world through your dedication to fighting climate change, as well as promoting Rwandan financial development, Rwandan security and the sanctity of the Rwandan family should never go without being acknowledged or without being thanked for the blessing that it is. I have watched too many western leaders espouse a bellicose agenda that only addresses one small group, In Rwanda, however, Paul Kagame, his ministers, and parliament work collaboratively focusing on the continued positive development of a nation and its people.
I believe that we should always show appreciation to leaders who work so hard to assure the advancement of their countries. Thank you, Mr. President, your leadership has provided many with hope for a better life in Rwanda and around the world. Happy Christmas!
The writer is the Director of the Rwandan Teacher Education Program at the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions at the University of Hartford in West Hartford,
The views expressed in this article are of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Times.