For the first time ever, Rwanda’s flag has been hoisted at the Commonwealth Games. Following the country’s admission to the Commonwealth Group of Nations last November, the country is now fully represented at the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.
Yesterday, I proudly watched on television as homeboy Dieudone Disi carried the national flag as he led Team Rwanda in front a jubilant throng of thousands of spectators and delegates from around the world, during the athletes’ procession as the Games officially opened at the legendary Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex.
As the smartly and traditionally dressed national team emerged from the tunnel, the commentator did not only mention the fact that it was Rwanda’s maiden appearance at the mega-sporting event, but also that the nation ‘has come a long way’.
Rwanda’s admission into the Commonwealth made her only the second country without colonial links with Britain to join the 54-nation grouping. The admission came almost six years after the country’s application.
Throughout all those years, many groups and individuals tried hard to sabotage Rwanda’s Commonwealth bid, with the opposition heightening ahead of the decisive moment – the November 28, 2009 Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting in Trinidad and Tobago.
The detractors claimed Rwanda was under an undemocratic leadership which clamped down on fundamental freedoms.
However, to their detriment, the nation successfully made its case and was admitted as the 54th member of the Commonwealth Group of Nations.
The Commonwealth would later become one of the many organisations that gave a thumbs-up to Rwanda’s August 9 presidential poll, which returned President Kagame to power after a resounding 93 percent victory.
The Commonwealth Observers praised the election and described it as “well organised and peaceful.” And, as Disi raised the Rwandan flag high in Dehli yesterday, the opponents to our admission to the Commonwealth family must have been reminded of just how elusive it is to pursue a senseless cause.
Whether or not our boys and girls win medals, the fact that we have managed to go through the procedures, enabling us to participate in 2010 CW games in just less than a year after our admission, shows that the country has not joined the Commonwealth not simply as an observer, but an active participant.
As we celebrate our country’s triumphant partaking at, perhaps, the world’s second most important multi-sporting event (after the Olympic Games), we’re up against a new battle.
Like the Commonwealth battle, this one too is not of bullets. As was the case with our Commonwealth bid, the latest battle – the UN-DRC mapping exercise report- is an ideological and propaganda one.
It’s a battle between the truth and the lies being uttered in the corridors of the UN.
Some elements inside the world body have stooped so low that they have bought into the naked lies of anti-Rwanda elements; purporting that our defence forces may have committed genocide crimes against Hutu populations in DR Congo between 1996 and 1998.
The UN, despite its immaterial peacekeeping presence in the Great Lakes Region, from the days of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda up till now in DR Congo, clearly still finds it difficult to draw the distinction between pursuing justice and reconciliation as alleged in its infamous Mapping Report on DR Congo, on one hand, and acts that essentially seek to resurrect ethnic animosities and violence across the Great Lakes Region.
Instead of backing regional pro-cross border peace and development initiatives, the UN is playing to the gallery of those hell-bent on returning the people of this region to their dark past.
It is reopening old wounds that were on course to full recovery, and gradually succumbing to proponents of the theory of double-genocide in Rwanda.
They forget that, by courting the genocidaires and genocide deniers, the UN is barking up the wrong tree.
As detractors failed to sabotage our Commonwealth bid, they will again lick their wounds once the truth catches up with them in their latest smear campaign.
The author is a training editor with The New Times.