Every society has them. Elements that shine at a particular job because of the position they hold but flounder miserably when they change positions.
You’ll see their flamboyance when they want to impress but wait and see them when they do not get what they anticipated. For the last 17 years, Rwanda has seen them in hordes.
I’m talking about our erstwhile leaders: those who were lead praise-singers of Rwanda the other day and now have turned her worst mud-slingers.
When I expressed my bewilderment at this behaviour to David, the friend who never ceases to surprise, he referred me to minerals. Look at a diamond, said he. What is it that makes it harder than many metals and yet it is not a metal?
A diamond is a mineral that has been subjected to intense heat for eons after which it has been subjected to equally intense cold for eons.
Anything can acquire its shine but none its substance. In acid, gold loses its impurities but never its substance.
Indeed, some of our politicians are like fake minerals. Before we accept to be led by them, we should give them the test of time; the acid test.
Before we are impressed by what they say or do, let us examine what they are.
Down the few years after 1994, we’ve had more than our fair share of samples.
There were those who puffed and foamed at the mouth denouncing the 1994 genocide and yet, before four months were over, they were questioning why genocide victims were still being mourned.
Your country loses 1.25 million innocent lives and as prime minister you see it fit to ask your people to stop mourning their compatriots who perished only four months ago.
What does it say of you, if it’s not that you are not necessarily unsympathetic to the perpetrators of the crime?
There were those who participated in the struggle to liberate this country without knowing the extent to which this struggle would be stretched.
When the armed struggle was over, they thought the whole struggle was over and scrambled to impress and earn themselves positions of leadership, which they used to exert influence on their compatriots and amass personal power and wealth. What does it say of you, if it’s not that your concern is not your compatriots?
Examples are countless and need not all be enumerated here. What they all tell us is that if we are interested in our leaders and the way they are leading our country, we should be ready to examine them over a long time and in different circumstances.
A person may demonstrate dedicated service at work or exceptional courage at battle simply in the quest for personal benefits.
Over time when – and in different circumstances where – those personal benefits are not forthcoming, the person flies into what psychologists call ‘narcissistic rage’ against the whole system.
As Rwandans, we reject this sense of entitlement, from whatever quarter. We want leaders that get positions they merit. No one should think they have the right to lord it over us just because they were born in this or that ‘compartment’ of Rwandans.
No one should think that they’ll sit on us because they liberated us. We know that together we are leaders in this struggle to liberate ourselves. And we know that the struggle has only begun.
The struggle will not end as long as there is any mother or baby who can die in childbirth. Families must have the capacity to look after children so that no child dies because they cannot access health services.
Malnutrition in any family must be eradicated and families’ incomes must be boosted so that all Rwandans can lead a satisfying life. All families in Rwanda must not only be healthy but also wealthy.
The struggle will not end as long there is any Rwandan who is lacking in any right, any service, any socio-politco-economic amenity. Rwanda must have enough clean water supply; health facilities; education facilities; wealth-creation facilities; electricity distribution; land-sea-air transport network; ICT access, the lot. Rwandans are not delusional when they seek to lead the fulfilling life that those in the West take for granted.
The struggle has only begun because all Rwandans without exception must be drafted into it, including even those who are sneering on the sidelines.
Yes, you who are abusing your motherland for not according you special privileges will in the end see the sense in sharing our resources equitably and realising progress together. You’ll see that for all of us, there are enough resources to go round.
Those who aspire to lead us must think like us if they are not fake patriots. We know the fakes as noisemakers who cry to high heaven that they are being persecuted for their noble thoughts.
Yet those are the thoughts that they never put in action while they were here, in the murky mire of implementation of such thoughts.
We know them by their methods of appealing to biased sentiments in the name of appealing to patriotic sentiments.
We call them ‘ibigarasha’. Unlike winning cards in a card-game, they can add no value to our lives. We are better off without them as leaders.