It is a terrible subject, a terrible idea- the promise of a generation. So bad that I was going to start with a joke and fill the whole thing with more jokes. But I find the topic has gotten under my skin while I wasn’t paying attention, because every generation has a promise, and every generation fails that promise in some respect.
How can we not? What is a promise if not something that’s impossible to live up to?
As we got together to celebrate liberation day, I only thought of the very many brave men and women across generations that gave their lives for the sake of fulfilling that promise.
I am almost certain that it was not an easy process, nor should it be. And in its wake, I’ve been thinking a lot about civility, civic duty, and kindness, and how pervasive and powerful they are, how enduringly persuasive those qualities are in Rwandan life, and how I see them all around me day after day.
Promise is a commitment, promise is what binds us. Some died, some got sick. Some got rich, some had bad luck. Some were fortunate, more than others. But failed promise only truly fails when it leads to lowered expectations.
Although a terrible subject, I chose it because, firstly, it is a vital question which concerns our future. You see, we have been stable for the last decade or so, and it is important to understand how it came about that we are sitting pretty like this.
And secondly, how can Rwanda continue to do well for many years to come?
I believe we are sitting comfortably because, the government pursued policies which gave all citizens a stake in the country.
We brought all citizens, whether rich or poor, whether blue-collar or white-collar, to have a stake in the coutnry and brought their interests close together so that their interests align with the interests of the country.
We are actively promoting growth and tirelessly creating jobs while significantly raising incomes for everybody. We are heavily investing in education to give every child a bright future.
We are creating an egalitarian and meritocratic society, where everybody is comfortable to mingle - you go to the same markets, you jog in the same sidewalks, whether you are rich or poor, and even the poorest families in the land can aspire to have their children advance and live a better life.
Having given everybody a stake in the progress of the country, the government then sought to represent a broad mass of Rwandans and not just a segment of them. Again, whether you are rich or poor, white collar or blue, whatever your religion, the government stands for you. This is your government.
Into the government, we co-opted all those who committed to serving the country and to make it better.
As such, we have a government that drew support from all segments of society. So we got the policies right, people align their interests, we got the politics right, the government sought to represent the broad mass of Rwandans, then we got the system right by adapting it to work for Rwanda.
But the system is as good as the people who make it work, you must have good leadership. Good leadership is a leadership that is in sync with the times, in tune with the population.
This way, we have got a system which has delivered honest, high quality, efficient government. It is capable, competent, and it works for Rwandans.
There are many areas where we have to improve, and from time to time, we do make mistakes and we have to learn from them and try not to make the same mistake twice. But overall, I think I can honestly say, that it is a good system that has served Rwanda well. Even more, it is a system that has delivered on the promise.
Therefore, what we can do and must continue doing is to guarantee the promise is alive across the generation of Rwandans, by developing the strongest possible team characterised by humility, depth and resilience.