It is the 9th of August and the location is a campus in Kaiserslautern, Germany. I’m staring at a blank piece of paper and I’m trying to express in the best way what I felt the previous day after voting in Munich. I feel quite a bit of pressure as I begin writing my thoughts because of who I’m writing them for.
I am writing this for my family, spread in four continents around the world. From Canada to France, South Africa to India, USA to Germany, Rwanda to Mali. I am writing for my Rwandan compatriots, home and abroad, who might have felt the same way I did.
I am writing this for my former schoolmates and friends for life: Ivoirian, French, Mauritanian, Burundian, Lebanese, Korean, Congolese and Portuguese. I am sharing with you my history and the history of my country, Rwanda. The 8th of August was a great day, I voted!
I can’t help but realize that back in 1986, when I came to this world in Ivory Coast (the country that welcomed my parents when their own motherland had banished them), this was something they could have hardly dreamt of. I, too, can hardly believe that I am living their dream.
A now fifty year old lady left Rwanda at the age of two. She was a refugee from 1959 to 1994; on her travel documents bore the words “all countries in the world allowed except Rwanda”. She got her first Rwandan passport in 1995, and on August 8th more than any other day in her lifetime she now belongs to a nation. She is my mother. She voted.
He is 60 years old; he survived the pogroms of 1959, the deportation in Maranyundo in 1963, the concentration camp of Nyamata and the nights of terror in Butare in 1973. He lived in exile in Congo, Burundi, Senegal and Ivory Coast but lost most of his remaining family in Rwanda, in the fastest and most efficient genocide in modern history.
He is my father. He took part in the civil process. He voted. And he did this in tandem with fellow Rwandans from from Ruhengeri to Gisenyi, Rubavu to Shyogwe, Gitarama to Kigali. As a nation and as a people We Voted!
Today I can recall the history of my family, but I do not need to shed tears anymore. I truly know that this belongs to the past. I witness my country ‘s present and I am deeply convinced that the future generations will live to see a better Rwanda. This was the dream of my grand-parents; when my parents struggled, their end-game was this. This was how they were able to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.
The belief in a better tomorrow, for freedom and belonging is the fight that this generation of Rwandans must carry on. We must fight for a more just, more caring and more prosperous Rwanda. We believe that we can and must achieve that tomorrow.
Rwandans today are inspired and united. We believe that out of many we are ‘One’, with no distinctions! We believe that like each human being on this Earth, Rwandans are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights; among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And here I remember a poem by Maya Angelou and like her we want to say :
“ Out of the huts of history’s shame.
we rise. Out of a past routed in pain.
We dare to dream bigger and are proud to say that these are the reasons why we voted. May God bless you and my dear country, Rwanda.
Michaella Rugwizangoga is a student in Germany