After writing an article in the New Times entitled “why the youth should be involved in peace building”, I received an email from a friend of mine who did not agree with my view that the youth are the leaders of today.
This friend of mine emphasized that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow and that they need to let older people run everything as the young ones are watching. He added that this would give the younger people the experience that they need since they would learn from their elders!
However, I would like to react to this view by making a few things clear! The role of the youth in peace building in any society is a no debatable issue because its impacts are self explanatory. It is very clear that many people have used the young people to create violence.
I will use Rwanda as a shining example to what they youth can do in national building. Rwanda can be a right example to anyone who does not agree with me about what the youth can do if they are fully and rightly empowered.
During the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the then government manipulated the youth and used them as tools of violence. These young people were illiterate and unemployed.
These young people were given pangers instead of pens, told to destroy instead of building and the rest is history. The then government of Habyarimana knew the strength of the youth and they exploited this strength negatively!
A lot happened during the government of national unity and the country was being organized. When President Paul Kagame came into power, he knew the secret in that was within the youth. He used the right ingredients to get the best out the future generation of this country.
The first secret is that he taught us the value of a nation. He taught us that the nation is us. He showed us how our future was more important than our past. He empowered us with national pride.
That’s why you see that none of us is ashamed to be Rwandan. When were still in exile, sometimes we denied being Rwandans but now it’s a different story. This approach has taught us that East or West, home is best!
He also believed that we are creative and highly committed to the national building! He gave us the opportunities and encouraged us to exploit them. He did not stop there; he is always there to correct us. He tells us what we need to hear but not what we want to hear. This has built the confidence I have when writing this article.
He has also showed us that the nation needs us to work harder and that there is no time to waste on certain things that are not positively contributing to our national development. He has shown us that you have to be fully focused and remain objective if you are to succeed in life irrespective of the huddles you meet on the way!
Young people with such a visionary leader will succeed. I have always emphasized that the world has a lot to learn from Rwanda.