Soon after the Presidential campaigns began, I decided I needed to make it to at least one upcountry campaign site as a show of support to my candidate Paul Kagame.
So that morning we packed up and headed north all dressed in our party colours and learnt the new party songs as we drove on.
We got to Musanze, only to find a sea of people across the grounds and up the hill. The mood was electric and those of you who know the people of the north, bright colours are their trademark—the lengths of bright red clothes, sunshine yellow and ocean blue had been changed to white T-shirts in party colours for the enthusiastic crowd that had gathered to welcome and listen to Paul Kagame.
As I settled into one of the hard to get seats in the VIP tents, I noticed how the Kigalians arrived—it was impossible not to tell whether they were young or old as they came in style wearing designer dark glasses, T-shirts and scarves alike.
This was like ‘Hollywood’ in Musanze, all people were FPR branded. I always thought of myself as a trend setter, but alas, there I was staring mouth open at this beautiful mess of colours at the Musanze gathering. As the crowd’s morale roared in defiant welcome, I felt so proud that we as a people who had for so long been denied true identity, were now descending on this northern town united with a common purpose to campaign for our candidate and the inspiration of our unbiased unity.
Bulera, Musanze, Gicumbi, Huye, Nyagatare, Rwamagana, Nyamirambo, Nyabugogo and indeed wherever our candidate went we followed, we were present to additional support as we drove from Kigali in groups uninvited (by now I had joined the Hollywood Crew).
We would have this march to the VIP tent knowing the Protocol Team were waiting to manage us, I know we made their days hard but we know they were also happy to see how we were so determined to go wherever our candidate went and some of us mixed and excitedly danced with the local population at all rallies.
As for our candidate he was on form and every single day, he was motivated by the happiness in the eyes of the people—his determined and unwavering followers. Every time he stepped on the platform and raised his fist shouting FPR Oye! Oye! Oye! Oye! We all responded, oh... it was great!
Kagame would shout ‘Abaturage ba Rwamagana’, (‘People of Rwamagana’) with vibrant energy and respect that he compelled the crowd to respond ‘Karame’ (yes!) in a thunderous uproar that was so emotional. By the time Kagame was at the last rally in Bumbogo (by the way, many of us had never heard of these places before), what a scenic site!
Kigali had run out of red, white and blue material, public energy had just got stronger and the ‘Hollywood Crew’ had grown in numbers to at least 1000. Everybody was now ready for Monday August 9th to decide.
I cannot express how great it was being on the campaign trail. Seeing millions of people converge in one place with one purpose, made me really know beyond reasonable doubt that we all worked very hard and also had much fun at the same time! The musicians did a great job livening up the event and believe me, I have never danced so much in my life.
Rwandans vote for a president once every seven years and this year marks the second time in Rwanda’s history.
Imagine the fact that I am 46 years old and I have only voted in my country twice in my life time, my son who is making 21 years like many other youth voted for the first time, how about my dear mother who is over 70 years, it was just the second time she cast a ballot.
How about all those ‘Hollywoods and all the baturage I saw along the way, they too have only voted twice or once, no wonder the emotions were so high, no wonder the passion was so determined and no wonder everywhere we went the chorus was loud, unchangeable and unrelenting for the complete 20 days we sang and shouted ‘Niwowe Kagame Niwowe Urasobanutse!’ (It’s you Kagame it’s you, you have a clear vision!)