This is the moment when every Rwandan reflects on the past with a sense of deep sorrow. The moment when we draw-back and ask ourselves many questions, some with no clear answers.
In 1994, being in Rwanda was as good as staying inside a grave-land. The only creatures that had life were vultures and dogs feasting on decomposing human remains. The cold blooded murderous gangs that roamed this nation’s hills, wielding machetes, were clearly obsessed and drunk with insanity.
17 years ago, we were simply a nation written off. The horror that engulfed this nation left a deep scar that, for decades if not centuries, will always remind us of our ugly past.
But as we commemorate the dark side of our history and remember the innocent lives that perished, we also look to the future with a sense of pride and optimism. Our biggest weapon being the growing unity of Rwandans, the growing patriotic acts and a leadership that means business.
Yes we mourn, certainly never to forget the past, but at the same time, equipped like true combatants to rise from the ashes like a sphinx.
Much as we mourn, we are also mindful of where we came from. And believe me, there reasons to afford a smile.
In 1994, the RPF inherited a state administrative apparatus that was in disarray. State enterprises and institutions had collapsed or vandalized. Tensions among Rwandans were at boiling point. Socio-economic fabric was in limbo, public order was in anarchy and the nation was in tears.
But today, the journey we have taken is not only a pride for Rwandans but also envy for the rest of the world. More and more outsiders flock this nation to borrow a leaf or study how a country once written off, can miraculously emerge to take on the world stage.
For those who wish to learn a thing or two on how an African leadership can willingly put in place checks and balances to combat corruption and ensure effective service delivery, Kigali is the route they take.
For those eager to understand how a health care system, that seems to even baffle rich powers, can work effectively and efficiently, Rwanda’s mutuelle de santé becomes the case study.
Those eager to reform their bureaucratic red tape that have cost them investment opportunities will book a lunch with RDB and learn how to carry out reforms that meet the standards set by World Bank.
For our African brothers who wish to tap into their rich cultures and carve out policies that could help in providing solutions for some pressing issues, Gacaca, Ubudehe, Imihigo offer the best experience.
Above all, for those anxious to learn how a sober leadership can work against all odds to restore human dignity to a nation where life was worthless, then Rwanda offers the best example of a successful post conflict recovery.
In other words, the achievements speak for themselves in education, health, infrastructure, unity and reconciliation, and they continue to fascinate many.
But as we pride in these achievements, there are some doomsday prophets, the spoilers that will quickly jump into the pan to discredit this journey. They guise under the cover of human rights defenders or champions of democracy.
Yet in actual sense, they are like a bunch of extortionists or to borrow Joseph Rwagatare’s description; vultures or scavengers who see any step towards self-reliance as threat to the heart of their business.
To them an African nation where an election ends peacefully, where street children are not loitering, where refugee camps are closed and where a government questions their unscrupulous activities under the banner of NGOs, is simply an enemy to their source of livelihood---an enemy to their bread and butter.
And they will gang up in solidarity to demonize this kind of leadership. As we enter this sad moment of our history, these characters will emerge with all sorts of malicious discourse piled with lies.
To render credence to their misconstrued discourse, they include in their bibliographies a host of lost souls like Joseph Sebarenzi or a famous hotel chef, Paul Rusesabagina or any of new jolly- riders turned into dancers that are eager to dance to every drum beat.
But this should not derail us from the path we have chosen to take. 17 years on, the foundation built is as solid as a rock and the leadership is as focused as a camera lens.
We match on with greater zeal confident that even tomorrow will bring joy. Those cynics hiding behind the curtain of human rights, will make as much noise as they want (especially during this period) but should not divert us from the course of prosperity. Besides, a people that stopped Genocide by themselves need no lessons on human rights.
So, as we remember and mourn our own, the challenge going forward is to leverage these remarkable achievements and keep the winning streak. That way, the blood that was spilled on this land will rest in peace and harmony.
Fortunately, the roadmap has been laid. What we cannot afford is to slip back.
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