Sometimes you are ashamed when you read what outsiders write about Rwanda. You are ashamed because you realise that there are some who know the truth and express it better than you and yet you are the creator of that truth. Rwandans should be prepared to be the messengers of their truth and only pay attention to constructive criticism.
It is clear that those who give wrong information in their write-ups do not do so out of ignorance. They do so deliberately, sometimes in support of Rwandans who have run afoul of their government, other times to serve hidden interests. However, there is a majority that sees the truth and expresses it as it is. It is a pity that Rwandans don’t express it in even bigger numbers.
François Soudan of the weekly ‘Jeune Afrique’ is one of those journalists who should cause shame to Rwandans. His interviews reveal what those negative foreign observers actually see but work hard to distort and, so to say, put Rwandans to the challenge.
In introductory observations to an interview he did with President Kagame that appears in the current edition of the magazine, for instance, he captures details of the image of Rwanda in a few concise words that Rwandans fail to express in bigger volumes.
Says Soudan: “Certainly, this is another Africa. An Africa where there is no grass roof, there are no plastic bags, no beggars, no feet in slippers”. An Africa where “motorcyclists wear helmets and reflector jackets, where time for appointments is respected and where policemen ask motorists nothing beyond valid papers”. An Africa where “the environment is protected as if it were a national treasure.”
Smoking is frowned upon, he contnuescontinues, there is no litter, there are no potholes and you can walk around anywhere in the country in total confidence of your security. All these are true and Rwandans should be grateful to journalists who honour their trade and don’t colour their stories.
However, this gratitude can only be manifested in making an equal statement in action and expression. That’s to say, Rwandans should not take these developments for granted but, rather, be encouraged to work even harder and to consolidate their gains and expand their horizon.
If Soudan says Rwandans sleep early so as to wake up early for work, it should encourage the few who don’t to take up his challenge. If he says power cuts are rare, Rwandans should strive to see that they are actually a thing of the past and that that power is extended to every homestead. And if he says incidences of motor accidents are minimal, it’s a call to slash them to near-zero.
Soudan says this disciplined ‘activity-hive of eleven million souls’ that is Rwanda has a president whose daily life is fine-tuned to work like a Swiss clock and whose ambition is to see Rwanda turn into an African Singapore. For that, Rwandans should work in concert with their president and see to it that they deliver the message of a Rwanda that has bid bye to the misery associated with Africa – and that it can be done.
And, while keeping the future in their sights, Rwandans should not forget to ensure a correct portrayal of their tormented past. For instance, why should there be any argument about who killed late President Habyarimana?
For, thanks to the vigilance of one Rwandan, the evidence is in the open. In the days leading to that death, Faustin Kagame made a recording of an RTLM (the hate radio that broadcast calls to genocide against Batutsi) programme that stated it clearly, even if in veiled language.
In the recording, Noheli Hitimana, who was anchorman of the radio, announces that he has intelligence from the RPF that they will do something between the dates of 3rd and 8th April 1994. Batutsi in RPF, he charges, only want war and ordinary Bahutu in the country will get tired and annoyed and should not be blamed for turning against their fellow Rwandans, Batutsi.
Clearly, there was no way Hitimana could get intelligence from the RPF and he was only sending the message to whip up emotions of Bahutu inside Rwanda.
He says Bahutu will even revolt against Habyarimana and bar him from entering his office.
Considering that not even opposition politicians could have dared talk like that about a man who was commonly referred to as “father of the nation”, it is obvious that “Akazu” had sealed their president’s fate.
And if anybody is still in doubt as to what Hitimana meant, he says on 6th April the RPF will launch its apocalyptic finale and then rest.
That recording points to a plan of the death of a president that had been finalised. The populace is being mobilised to use it as the excuse to execute a genocide that had long been prepared.
Yet, even as you read this, there is a whole team of French experts who are still poring over irrelevant details to determine who killed Habyarimana. Apart from it being ridiculous, it shows that some work on Rwanda needs to be ignored.
Rwandans should massively support outsiders who want the country’s story to be articulated.