SAY anything on any anybody and our Rwandan opposition ‘democrats’ in self-imposed exile will never fail to connect it with the Rwandan president. This time it was in relation to my mention of ‘conglomerates’ and the sneer was: “Your president isn’t exactly a pauper.” What our ‘oppositionists’ (as they call themselves) seem incapable of appreciating is that, unlike individuals or their groupings, the president in this country represents an institution.
President Kagame is the voice of eleven million Rwandans (including those oppositionists). Wherever he is, he must be respected as such and must thus appear fittingly respectable.
It is, therefore, an insult to Rwandans to think that their president, their voice, should be taking his guests around Rwanda in a VW beetle, the Kayibanda way. Or go to Davos in economy class in a commercial flight and risk being stranded at some airport, or late for an important engagement in the service of their country, because some Arab sheikhs have taken over all seats. Or else fly around the globe in a hazardous, donated hand-me-down crate from some papa president, flight crew and all, the Habyarimana way.
These were men (Kayibanda and Habyarimana) who could not see beyond eliminating some of their people, so as to take over their ‘wealth’. But which wealth? They were blind to the fact that wealth resides within a united people who think and act together so as to challenge the limits of their power to actually create wealth. And whatever wealth Rwandans have created must be put back at the service of Rwanda to create even more wealth. That’s the message that their voice carries.
There are many differences between the Rwanda of today and that of yesteryear that our oppositionists don’t seem to see. Rwanda today is home to a people who are alive to the fact that they have a stake in their leadership and no one leader can lord it over them. That’s why, for instance, they are unimpressed when oppositionists and foreign agitators fret over a debate that’s non-existent: the president influencing a change in the constitution to cling to power.
Rwandans know what Kagame has said and they know that he has never swallowed his word. It is no secret, of course, that most of them wish he could swallow this word, just this once!
I know that those agitators will counter that he has actually swallowed many words, not one. They are likely to cite the first incident as being when he was rebel commander, when the RPA in February 1993 retreated from the outskirts of Kigali. It must be remembered, however, that the decision was due to pressure from the international community, particularly the French government, who promised to talk the Habyarimana regime into returning to the negotiation table in Arusha. We know what came of that promise.
Another incident that may be cited is the denial of the occupation of DR Congo from 1996. But whoever quotes that will not have considered that there was no denial, in the first place. In his speeches and conversations, Kagame never minced his words about following any killer of Rwandans into the deepest nook, the densest jungle.
There may be other incidents that don’t come to mind immediately but you can bet that they all have their explanations.
So, Rwandans know that there will be a post-Kagame come 2017. And they are not lathering because they know it will be business as usual as they are now used to. For if it will not be, Rwandans, especially the youth and women, will have let him down.
Twenty-three years of being inspired by Kagame’s words and deeds; his brand of leadership; of brooking no abuse of any form to any Rwandan by anyone – from mighty Rwandan politician to mighty Rwandan business owner, mighty ex-colonialist to mighty neo-colonialist; of advancing the dignity of a Rwandan and putting Rwanda on the conscience of the world. If after 23 years of this inspiration Rwandans cannot get someone who won’t let them down, then may the gods above intervene!
But, come to think of it, why should Rwandans accept a post-Kagame? Why should he go globetrotting the world to deal with economic crises on behalf of World Bank? Or dousing the fires of conflict on the African continent on behalf of the African Union, with the financing hand of the UN behind it? My advice to Rwandans, if they’ll lend me their ears: Kagame is larger than individual crises and conflicts and you should put him at the service of Africa and the world.
Invite Thabo Mbeki, Joachim Chissano and other equally dignified and conscious African ex-presidents and give them all homes at Muhazi so that they can team up with Paul Kagame and put their heads together to brainstorm the solutions to all woes on the African continent.
This Sacred Set of Sages (SSS) can stem the troubles of Africa by ensuring clean political leadership and sound economic management in all countries, operating from their base in Village Muhazi. Occasional consultations with likewise dignified and conscious ex-presidents of developed countries like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton will ensure a dynamic relationship between the developed and African countries. That way, aid will be given transparently and used to develop countries, not keep them in eternal beggar-bondage.
And the world will be the wealthier for it. And SSS will have licked the SIS of the world – Stomach-Inspired Strategists (SIS – sissies, for plural)!