REFLECTION:Rwanda: “A poster child for success”!

When Zakaria talks, the United States of America, nay, the world, listens. That is why I was excited when I got the news that he would host President Paul Kagame.

When Zakaria talks, the United States of America, nay, the world, listens. That is why I was excited when I got the news that he would host President Paul Kagame.

In his interview, Zakaria was able to confirm what he already knew: that President Kagame was leading a team that will never accept failure.

And so, in his words, Zakaria’s verdict: “Rwanda is the biggest success story out of Africa.” Being an astute journalist, Zakaria does not invite you to his interviews unless his researches have earned you his respect.

As he himself told CNN, he knew that by the time the genocide of Batutsi ended, “Rwanda was broken and…….a poster child for Africa’s failed states. (Yet, against all expectations, it is) now a poster child for success.”

Zakaria enumerates all the near-miraculous developments that have taken place in Rwanda and repeating them here would only serve to dilute their poignancy.

Suffice it to say that the man has done his research profoundly and appreciates the enormity of the work that was involved in getting Rwanda where it is today.

Which is more than I can say for some disgusting excuses of journalists in parts of our local media, like the ‘Umuseso’ news rag. Fareed Rafiq Zakaria is an Indian-American journalist, commentator and author who has written widely on a variety of subjects.

Apart from hosting TV shows, he has four books to his name and has written for ‘New York Times’, the ‘Wall Street Journal’, the ‘New Yorker’ and is currently the editor of ‘Newsweek International’. All this goes to show you why he does not host any Robert, Pierre or Joseph on his authoritative CNN shows.

That Zakaria should enthusiastically talk and write about Rwandan successes and invite President Kagame for an interview says volumes about the respect that the country continues to garner from the international community.

He joins the stable of a growing breed of highly respected international journalists who are beginning to see the truth about Rwanda and are saying it.

Even then, there are many others who are still shut up in their cocoon of stereotypes and are unable to cut themselves loose.

Unfortunately, these stereotypes still pepper the opinions of even the most level-headed and unprejudiced journalists. And so, even if in passing, they’ll always mention “President Kagame’s authoritarian rule.”

My dictionary tells me “authoritarian rule” is rule that is “centred either in one person or a small group that is not constitutionally accountable to the people.” Fact: by its broad-based nature, the Rwandan government cannot be said to be formed by a narrow clique.

That leaves the person of President Kagame who, as a fact again, was constitutionally elected by Rwandans. That, therefore, would leave “centred…in one person” only! This would mean that President Kagame ‘sits on his power’ and just gives directives.

It would mean that the famous weekly cabinet meetings, monthly press conferences, frequent meet-the people gatherings and umpteen retreats and summits are a sham and only function as venues for Rwandans to receive directives.

An abuse to Rwandans I never saw worse!
One simple example would disabuse this insult and show a government that is “constitutionally accountable to the people”: the evolution of gacaca.

We all know how top leaders, cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, church leaders, elders and all who could give advice sat down in long and drawn-out meetings to finally devise a court system that would expedite judgement of genocide perpetrators and reconcile Rwandans.

But no, that’s not all for us, poor Rwandans! If we are not under ‘centred-in-one-man’ rule, we are “Tutsi-dominated”. These able journalists have to sort us out and place us into those accursed ethnic boxes.

Even if it means that identifying where our justice or agriculture are placed throws them bang into the horns of dilemma! We all know the all-too-evident fact that there is no “Tutsi domination” in government, the legislature, the judiciary or anywhere else.

Admittedly, due to the history of the struggle for liberation, the armed forces in Rwanda may at one time have been lopsided in composition. That, however, was before re-integration and new recruitments.

It would seem then that that “domination” refers to one man: the President of Rwanda. In which case we should start saying the “Luo-dominated US government”, the “Scot-dominated UK government” or the “Hungarian-dominated French government”!

Of all the afore-said presidents, Nicolas Paul Stéphane Sarkozy de Nagy-Bosca (Nicolas Sarkozy) would most bay for the blood of these journalists!

All in all, therefore, it is incumbent upon us Rwandans to break these stereotypes and tell our story. Everything is a first, and we have it all: freedom, security, education, health, clean government, clean country, economic growth by leaps and bounds, name it.

As for our abusive ‘brethren and sistren’ in the said local media, their folly is akin to that of the small boy who was cutting the tree-branch that he was sitting on.

Their lie-peddling trade cannot sustain them long, and sooner than later they will hurtle down into the dustbin of Rwandan history!