Rwanda is a country of contradictions in the global media; it is simultaneously referred to as a modern African success story and a brutal dictatorship.
It is rated as one of the best governed countries but also called a failing state, how can it be both at the same time? When I visit neighbouring countries, I burst with pride as everyone says Rwanda is one of the best prospects for the region.
We treat praise and criticism the same, both can divert you from your purpose but the key is to take it with a pinch of salt.
I think back to the 1990s and the death of Fred Rwigema when the RPF was at its lowest ebb; many believed the chances of victory were dead. Reports came back that FAR had expanded to 40,000 plus French legionnaires and Belgian paratroopers, and that the RPF stood no chance.
Others believed it was winnable, like Leonides of Sparta said “the enemy only outnumbers us a paltry fifty to one.”
The Bible has the story of the 12 spies sent into the Promised Land, ten said it was hopeless to even try, Joshua and Caleb said they could be beaten and they were.
When I look at the up and coming generation both here and in the Diaspora, I am filled with hope, I am certain we will be okay, it is these young people who believe it is possible to get to the Promised Land, because they are already there.
Optimism is an affliction of the young, one cannot help it, young people in the Diaspora also hear the smear reports but it doesn’t dampen their love for Rwanda and the wish to return.
The question posed in the 12 Spies story is “Who do you believe?” Rwanda cannot be a “Modern African success story” and a “Failed state” at the same time.
Rwanda’s treatment internationally has made me suspicious of how other countries are treated in the press.
I have seen the phenomenon of the whole media industry turning on a country, from being sycophantic to utterly destroying a country’s reputation.
The solid facts are indisputable, 7 percent growth, GDP nearly doubled in 10 years, 56 percent women MP’s, life expectancy increased by 17 years, infant and maternal mortality down and so forth.
So, whose report will you believe? The new generation believes that all is possible, they even take success as a right.
So as we lead up to Liberation Day, let the new generation take their place. We cannot fail if we have a can-do attitude, let us learn from the victories and sacrifices of our forerunners.
When I hear war-stories, I always feel a slight hint of sadness that I never took part, the brotherhood formed in the bush is for life.
An old dog of war told me “what we did was easy, we only had to defeat an enemy, you will have to fight in the global economy and that is going to be an eternal war till death.”