The days of the culture of immortality in Rwanda are long gone. The reality today is such that the issue of particular families being considered as demigods in society is long gone. Today, the son or daughter of a peasant, through sheer determination and hard work, can easily rise to the highest possible levels in government, military, business or academia.
The system has enabled the best and brightest to prosper without any barriers. We forego meritocracy, a key driver to Rwandan exceptionalism, at our own peril.
Rwanda’s extraordinary achievements are the result of hard work by a cohesive population over the years working with capable leaders towards making it an exceptional country.
If you look away from the policies, away from the details, all the fine print of the schemes and the programmes and so on, I think we have one basic choice of the Rwanda we want tomorrow.
Do we want to be a unique country which people around the world look up to? Or are we content as an ordinary country getting by but not different from others? It is not hard to be ordinary.
You can get by but without a major competitive edge. If we wish to be like any other African state, then there will be no compelling reason for investors to be here, for talent to stay here or even for able Rwandans in the next generation to want to remain. Somewhat, Rwandans may leave for bigger and better opportunities elsewhere.
If we have to be exceptional, then everyone must make a special effort to look ahead, anticipate problems and opportunities to build for the long term, patiently, resolutely, year after year, whether it is good or bad and keep our politics pragmatic and constructive so that the political basis is there for government to operate.
Being exceptional is a goal worth striving to achieve. We have shown that we can do it. Otherwise we would not be here today. We now have the opportunity to build something which is truly outstanding in Rwanda.
Indeed, we deserve it. Our children deserve no less because we want them to grow up in a country they are proud of.
We are all Rwandans connected by our emotional links with family and friends and by our shared sense of our history and our common destiny. As we strengthen the sense of our common path, we must look ahead to create our shared future.
It begins with us. We should believe that we have created something special and precious that we must protect and improve. We ought to strive not just for material success but for ideals and dreams. We must also serve with all our passion, heart and mind.
Our task is to engage young people in nation building for a better fiture.
We must make Rwanda a special place we all call home, where we not only prosper, but live in peace and harmony. We should mould a country where we not only have careers and opportunities but friends and families, where we share not just burdens and rewards, but our worries and our joys, where we make tomorrow always a little bit better than today.