Rwanda is a special country in the world in many ways. This week, Rwandans mourn and remember the victims of the 1994 genocide but more importantly highlight how far the country has come in the last sixteen years. In no other country is there an almost tangible wind to progress individually, socially and nationally.
The 1994 genocide against the Tutsi was the most cataclysmic event in the history of the country. It should have been perhaps the end of this country. It is not a simple thing for a nation to give way to a senseless murder of human beings by the crudest and cruellest of means for one hundred days!
Instead of that year becoming the one that marked the beginning of the end, it was in fact marking the end of the beginning. Today, Rwandans have accomplished so much.
The world stares at Rwanda, the supposed genocidal country only to find a country that sets the pace for everyone else. Now others want to be part of the success story of Rwanda and cannot fathom how such a small country can rise from such a disaster of that scale to become a beacon of hope.
Charles Lindbergh, a record breaking American aviator and explorer said that Success is not measured by what a man accomplishes, but by the opposition he has encountered and the courage with which he has maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.
For Rwanda’s case its achievements hence should not be measured by say those of its neighbouring countries, although even by that standard, there is no match. Instead these achievements should be measured against its difficult history.
That is where I would like to salute the individual will of Rwanda’s leadership to be better and collective will that Rwandans display in their quest for excellence.
On Tuesday, I watched as president Kagame made pledge after pledge about Rwanda’s resolve to be better, to embrace peacemakers and confront war mongers, about the values of unwavering values of Rwandans and how Rwandans should not be apologetic to defend their values.
He talked about Rwandans being at the frontline of defending their future and at one point he pledged that the struggle for Rwanda’s future is one he was willing to work towards in his whole life and if necessary die for it.
These words echoed those of Nelson Mandela during his trial before he was jailed. It echoed the spirit of Rwanda’s streets and work places. It echoed the sense of urgency and eagerness to be better.
In time of mourning, Rwanda as a country is at its strongest point of unity and collective national action and away from mourning Rwanda is the place where people are in a great hurry to get on with the business of life, making impossible conquests, facing each new day with lots of courage and hope.
No wonder in sixteen years Rwanda is a beacon of hope for the world.
I wish you a buoyant Sunday.