It had been in the planning for about a week, but I hadn’t given it to much notice until the morning of Sunday August 8, 2010 one day before the presidential elections in Rwanda but here in Toronto, Canada it is already election day.
At 8am five family friends arrived at our home, to meet before their six hour journey to Ottawa so that they could vote for the Presidential elections taking place in Rwanda.
My father along with his friend had left earlier to collect the rental van that would be transporting them and as the others waited they discussed the usual topics of children and work. As I listened to these parents something struck me.
Previously I had wondered why they would want to go through the trouble of organizing themselves, renting a van and travelling for ten hours in total to vote, and then the following day waking up early to go to work when it wouldn’t make a difference anyway.
Today I finally understood the meaning of their actions. This was another example for their children of how to be a good citizen and a good Rwandan.
I felt so proud of them. Despite the distance of 11, 720 kilometers, from Toronto to Kigali, they have remained connected to their country and have made sure they taught language and culture to their children.
I am sure this is true of many other parents who live abroad. I want to let you know that when you speak of your childhood and tell us about our customs, organize festivals and traditional dance lessons, you are teaching us to be proud of who we are.
And when you pay school fees for orphans and build homes for the poor and encourage Rwandans and non-Rwandans to visit Rwanda you are teaching us how to be a good citizen of Rwanda.
We listen and watch and take part, although we may not appreciate the significance of that knowledge immediately we eventually do and are encouraged by your example to pass on that knowledge to the next generation, so that they too may know who they are and where they come from.
Reka mbabyire banyarwanda batuye Mu’Rwanda, ntabwo turabazungu, turabanyarwanda buzuye, kandi dukunda U’Rwanda rwacu cyane. We will never forget our country, we are with you always. And we are very proud to call ourselves Rwandese.
Parents of children living abroad I encourage you to continue teaching us about our country, you are our pillars and shining examples, thank you very much. We will work hard to make you as proud of us as we are of you.
By teaching us about our country, you are teaching us to love where we come from and therefore laying a strong foundation for the bright future of Rwanda.