SavvyKenya, a Kenyan blogger, was here and got a glimpse of today’s Rwanda. On getting the news that President Kagame would be passing through the northern town of Musanze later in the day, the blogger decided to tweet an invitation to the president: “[I]f you’ll be passing through Musanze town this afternoon, the tennis kids will be waving at you and they have a t-shirt for you.”
In thirty minutes the blogger got an “OK, thank u!” from President Kagame and, later that day, he stopped over.
The president got out of the car to greet, and chat with, the employees of the NGO that takes care of those children. Unfortunately, it was too late for the president to share a game of tennis with them and they could only content themselves with greetings and a chat, capped with a reciprocal compliment of a healthy package from him.
The blogger, now back in Kenya, is still on cloud nine and is receiving celebrity raves in the blog-sphere.
It was like the incident in USA, sometime last year. President Kagame was walking out of the Tribeca Film Festival, in Manhattan, New York, when he noticed a man standing in the rain. The president tore himself from his minders, walked to the man and shared his umbrella with him and led him out of the rain.
The man, Tom Murro, had these words of wonder: “There I was, getting soaked while waiting for a cab….[when the president] removed himself from his security detail…..to walk over and …share his umbrella with me”.
Both Kenyan and American, welcome to Rwanda today.
Where hatred all but consumed this country in 1994, today Rwanda under President Kagame is learning that with love, humility and unity – and reconciliation where there has been strife – the whole of humanity can build a world that recognises the dignity of every individual.
Rwandans have learnt that united they can be a force of self-advancement, but divided they will be a force of self-immolation.
That is how the turnout in last year’s presidential elections, and subsequent elections, has perplexed observers keen to find fault with the Rwandan leadership. Every Rwandan of age turns out to vote because all Rwandans know that President Kagame cannot accept to preside over a government that lacks that human touch.
It is either a leadership that is sensitive to the will of the people or he will have nothing to do with it (hoping it won’t come to that!).
The observers, of course, have seen many an African soldier who metamorphosed into presidents and are not ready to accept this. After all, how many soldiers have claimed to be revolutionary leaders who came to save their people and then turned around to be worse than the despots they deposed?
That, however, would be ignoring the fact that exceptions exist. And that fact of exceptions is what Rwandans have taken to heart. It is for that that they will never listen to the prophets of doom.
These Kagame bashers are mostly self-proclaimed Western “pundits” who want to project a know-all image on matters African. They usually come to the African leaders as benevolent advisers on how to easily access aid from their Western governments, only to go back and report their (the African leaders) weaknesses.
Woe unto you, African leader, if you don’t pander to their small ruses. The media and the rights advocacy groups will be awash with predictions of impending calamity on your people.
Alternatively, the Kagame bashers are Rwandans ensconced in foreign capitals, licking their wounds after falling out of grace with their fellow Rwandans. If they are not unbending génocidaires or sworn espousers of their ideology, they will have been caught dipping their itchy fingers into government coffers or selling their country to its enemies.
You will find them all over the internet, as they make the rounds of all the media houses to ‘confirm’ any – usually misconceived – negative reports. Slowly but surely, though, Rwanda is pulling the rug from under the feet of all these prophets of doom, as all their accusations prove false.
Which reminds me of a feat that Mr Andrew Mwenda wanted to pull off, last year.
Mr Mwenda, owner of ‘The Independent’, a Ugandan news magazine, was scheduled to interview President Kagame live on a privately owned radio station. Seeing this as a chance to excite his listeners, Mr Mwenda asked President Kagame if he could invite what the media termed “members of his inner circle, now-turned enemies”.
President Kagame readily obliged. The “inner circle, now-turned enemies” referred to the quartet of Messrs Kayumba, Karegeya, Gahima and Dr Rudasingwa.
Seeing as the foursome had been shouting themselves hoarse about President Kagame’s “autocratic rule” and about their intention of “liberating the oppressed Rwandans”, Mr Mwenda thought it would be a golden opportunity for the group to reveal to Rwandans the ‘sins’ of their (Rwandans’) president.
Alas, it was not to be! The foursome roundly rejected the offer. No doubt, the “inner circle” knew that Rwandans would see through their alarmist message.
To those in the West who are gullible enough to swallow such messages, this should serve as a wake-up call.