Patrick Karegeya has continued to call upon Rwandans to stand up and carry out an extra constitutional removal of President Kagame, an elected, respected, and wildly popular leader among the ordinary rank and file Rwandans.
I have listened to the reactions of these Rwandans to this call, and I will, over the next few weeks, try to translate their words and feelings into a dialogue between them and Karegeya et al. I welcome your comments, additions, and reflections. They will be part of the series.
These days, Nyamirambo is an extremely interesting place Patrick. The dust of yester year is gone, a brand new tarmac road has been constructed and the inhabitants have an even bigger spring in their walk. Business is booming.
The bars, hair salons, restaurants, and fashion houses now have their email addresses prominently displayed. In Nyamirambo, there is no dichotomy between the Lexus and the Olive tree, between Islam and modernity.
The Muslim community is fervently religious, wired, connected, pious, developmentally minded, and impressively IT savvy. They also support President Kagame and the RPF.
You keep calling Kagame a dictator Patrick. You should apologize to Rwandans for this lie. There is no way the President could have dictated the ecstatic support I saw in Nyamirambo.
I have heard some of your friends say the massive crowds that turn up to support Kagame have been coerced to do so. Don’t believe them. You cannot coerce people sing themselves hoarse. You cannot coerce them to play RPF songs in their homes, or dance to them in the streets.
Do you remember the elderly ladies, our mothers, the Rwandan repository of wisdom? Well, one of them just coined the defining statement of this campaign for me Patrick.
This Rwandan matron, with 11 children, the last of whom is now completing secondary school and a number of whom have completed University, told Kagame the President that voting for him was akin to producing children for a man you are in love with!
Think about this statement form a mother Patrick. From a mother with limited education, with no political ambitions of her own, but who knows what it means to love and to nurture. Do you know Patrick, the most recent issue of the Economist, that paper I know you love, predicted that the RPF will win with over 90% of the vote.
Now, as you know, only the foolhardy would believe the predictions of the Economist. They have a penchant for getting their predictions wrong but they persist in making them, and for some reason, the World continues to consider them reputable. It baffles me. Remember when they predicted a 51% win for Daniel Ortega, the Sandinista leader of Nicaragua in 1990?
They gave his opponent, Violeta Chimorrow only 24%. Do you remember the consternation when Chamorrow went on to beat Ortega with 55.2% of the vote? In the Rwanda case, they give Kagame 90% of the vote, tongue in cheek of course. But what is wrong with getting 90% of the vote?
As President Kagame has said, and I agree with him, even 100% of the vote is democracy. You know as well as I do Patrick, that Democracy means always having a choice. So, Muslim women in Nyamirambo believe voting for Kagame is like producing children for a man you are in love with.
And this sentiment is repeated over and over again, across districts and across age groups. Can you dictate love Patrick? What weapon do you have in your arsenal against it? The only weapon I know against love is hate. But you and I know to which gory depths hate has led Rwanda. Do you seriously believe Rwandans are willing to go down the path of a destructive senseless hate? I think you should reconsider.
A propos of democracy, the RPF is trailblazing in this, as in many other areas, the naysayers notwithstanding. I know you love history Patrick. Do you remember Walter Bagehot? Author of “The English Constitution” in 1997?
I recall he observed the coming of Universal suffrage with the following Ironic comment: “ Until now, England has been a free country: It is going to be a democratic one”. Freedom and democracy are not synonymous Patrick.
England, for many years, did not even have a written constitution. That is democracy to them. Their highest Court is fused with the legislature in the House of Lords. That is democracy for them. Why don’t I hear you say this on the BBC? In the USA, for many years, only the landed gentry, and people of the right sex and color had the vote.
That was democracy for them. In France, the Constitutional court is packed with Political appointees, and the Presidency resembles a Monarchy that is democracy for them. Spain, and Belgium are monarchies, that is democracy for them. Why is it so difficult for you to agree that Rwandans are free to decide what kind of democracy they want to have? Why do you want to tell them who they should and should not have as a leader?
Why don’t you let them decide? Fortunately, the RPF understands that winning an election confers the right to exercise power, not to keep it for oneself. Thus the power sharing enshrined in the constitution. Would you want to change this Patrick?
Do you think it is right to tell someone, as a Western politician reportedly once did, that they are legally wrong because they are politically in the minority? I do not think so, neither does the RPF. That is why the Rwandan Government includes all shades of opinion and political pursuation.
In Nyamirambo, I listened to another Rwandan matron say she can now die in peace because for the first time in her life, she has seen a President dance with a Moslem woman! How do you overthrow someone you dance with Patrick? Why don’t you come dance with us?
It is amazing how the World consistently underrates the RPF. Remember they misquoted Mao’s dictum that a revolutionary war can only succeed if the revolutionaries were able to mingle with the population as fishes swim in the sea?
The RPF came up with their own dictum that truth is not killed by fire, it is rather sharpened by it. Despite the population being enticed to flee the RPF controlled areas by the powers that were, the RPF went on to win.
What about the wager that the Government would not last three months? Well, 16 years and counting. What about the seemingly impossible wager to build a United, Reconciled prosperous nation out of the ashes of genocide? Come to Nyamirambo Patrick, you will see it.
There is only one caveat. You have to come back to Nyamirambo. You will not see it on CNN, hear of it on BBC, experience it in Johannesburg or taste it in Brussels.
Those are places for anti democratic elitism of self appointed elites who assume the people do not know what they want, and dismiss the choices of Africans with superior disdain. Why have you joined them Patrick?
Has history and the RPF not taught us that these elites will continuously be thrown into comical disarray?
Why don’t you instead celebrate with us, here in Nyamirambo, of the RPF’s program of meritocracy, founded on examination and free competition, and an overwhelming trust in the people? Why don’t you join President Kagame in dancing with heretofore marginalized Muslim women?
Don’t you think this is better than asking them to shed their blood in the service of avarice and a misplaced sense of entitlement? I have to go savor Nyamirambo Patrick. But please do remind me. Next time, we should have a bit of a discussion on avarice, gluttony, and Dante’s third circle of hell.