The evening of president Kagame’s swearing – in ceremony, former Rwandan Prime Minister, Faustin Twaguramungu, was on BBC ‘s Focus on Africa again.
The elder politician said it was a great day for Kagame and recognized the support President Kagame received from fellow African leaders as a sign of solidarity and confidence.
Apparently Kagame’s Pan- African speech, on his inauguration for a second term in office, was not missed by the former premier nor the level of development achieved under Kagame’s stewardship, but the old man surprised me when he said Kagame may be a nationalist but he is also a dictator. That is paradoxical.
He certainly could not sustain accusations leveled against a man whose actions speak for themselves, when he was informed that people who visit Rwanda marvel at the progress. His response was a blunder for a person of his caliber when he said “I don’t care about development, roads and buildings….” adding that democracy comes from freedom and not development. That same evening BBC announced President Obama‘s plan to inject 50 billion dollars in the rebuilding the infrastructure ‘to boost the economy’.
When Twagiramungu said that the African leaders, who came in big numbers from all the corners of the continent to express their solidarity, ‘did not know our country’ I began to see why journalists who interview him often ask him to go back home to practice his politics there.
The man is out of touch with Rwandan reality. The Heads of State who have embassies and visit the country, are certainly better informed of the changes in Rwanda than the Belgium self-exile who feeds on negative propaganda.
Had he been at home that evening, Rwanda Television and the various radio stations would have saved him from the paradoxes that seem to puzzle him. BBC interviewed some Rwandans. One of them said, the President should tackle the problem of unemployment, another said employing expatriates should be checked, yet another said development should be evenly distributed to rural areas.
Rwanda television interviewed young Rwandans who were part of the 35,000 Rwandans in the Amahoro Stadium. One boy who should be under fifteen years of age said “I have come to celebrate with him because he doesn’t like children who don’t go to school, and we all go to school”. Another one said he has stimulated development, “we now have cows at home and drink milk”.
What more freedom does Twagiramungu want? Why should he predict instability if he is a patriot instead of joining his compatriots in their quest for sustainable development?
At his age, the ex-Premier should return home and contribute in other capacities other than the presidency. We all have ambitions at certain times, but they are never all fulfilled. We have to learn to accept reality without frustrating ourselves.
President Kagame’s journey to be the sixth Head of State of independent Rwanda and the sixth president of RANU/ RPF is comparable to a long distance runner. Whereas sprinters dash very fast over a short distance and burns out, the long distance runner, is steady, disciplined, resilient, strategic and avoids short cuts. Good long distance runners like Haile Gebre Selassie of Ethiopia remain in the headlines for long compared to their ephemeral sprinter counterparts.
Kagame’s revolutionary journey from Uganda through Tanzania, Cuba and USA is proof of a resilient, talented and committed nationalist. And of course the Lord’s blessings. Again, Twagiramungu would have learnt more about his President from the local media to know why voters love him. You can’s cheat history.
Paul Kagame is a man of his word and when he swears to uphold and protect the constitution, he will. You can be sure his oath to ensure peace and security of the nation, to continue to build unity and to foster development for the benefits of all Rwandans, will be his guiding principle.
Twagiramungu’s security is protected like all of us by the constitution, why does he wait to be 80 in far away Brussels! If he had witnessed the play enacted by a group of children during the ceremony, he would have had a better view of how the President is perceived by Rwandans. One episode said that if you are corrupt you will be handcuffed even if you are his brother, but if you like school and do your job well, then you will be his friend. Is this not a good legacy for Rwanda? You can’t call it dictatorship.
Rwandans, distinguished scholars and politicians following contemporary Rwanda socio- political development, drawing from 1994 Tutsi genocide, research and experiences from elsewhere prescribe diverse approaches to reconstruction, but most are premised on truth and unity.
The truth is that Genocide evolved from destructive ideologies by past governments and Twagiramungu, who opposed the Habyarimana dictatorship, should be among those to provide informed opinions to the Amnesty International researchers that pay little attention to ethical issues, contrary to social research requirements.
How can you expect Rwandans to continue to use words that were previously used to devalue others? The short period I spent in Britain, I discovered that speech with racial overtones was regulated by law and in Tanzania which has many distinct ethnicities, reference to a person by his or her tribe is unacceptable, except in qualified contexts.
Building unity and reconciliation in Rwanda requires, according to Professor Ervin Staub of the University of Massachusetts, that hate speech be replaced by neutral speech characterized by neutral, respectful language instead of derogatory language. Negative proverbs and terms harbour latent, unresolved conflicts which if not discouraged could only serve to increase conflict.
I recommend to Amnesty International Ervin Staub’s book ,(1989),The roots of Good and Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group violence. Cambridge, to understand the intricacy of post genocide reconstruction. Equally useful literature for researchers on Rwanda is Mahmood Mamdani’s book , When Victims become Killers which underscores the fallacy of Tutsi/Hutu arguing that if these people have lived together for over 500 years speaking one language , practicing the same culture, living on the same hills and intermarriage was not forbidden, but practiced widely, can one claim ethnic purity.
Can you imagine the embarrassment caused when foreigners fed on such inaccuracies ask you, ‘are you Hutu or Tutsi?’ The connotations of both are negative depending on the interlocutor. That is why I prefer to be called a Munyarwanda.