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Life Reflections

The leadership in Rwanda is one with Rwandans

By July 20, 2012June 6th, 2023No Comments

I have no bone to pick with any journalist, least of all those who are well-intentioned. But I have a beef with the way they all pick on a dubious phrase coined somewhere in distant lands, or coined by one of them in those lands, and turn it fashionable. Lately, the up-to-the-minute phrase has involved the verb “squander”. President Kagame is being accused of “squandering the goodwill of the international community”.

It’s no secret, of course, what “the international community” means to them. It does not mean all peoples, cultures and governments of the world, as we know it. It means the small club of donors. President Kagame, we are told, is spending the “goodwill” of the mighty donors wastefully.

He is “squandering” their “goodwill” or otherwise using it up unnecessarily. And for that, he is “losing his reputation as a bold and visionary leader”. He is “failing to live up to expectations”. But how did the “goodwill” come, in the first place? How did he build that reputation and how did he raise expectations?

Personally, I thought the “goodwill” of “the international community” would be in our interest, we the hoi polloi of this land. When they part with part of their citizens’ hard-earned money, the donors do it so that we can improve our lives. They do it so that we can stop living in squalor. So that we can lead happy, fulsome lives. They know, of course, that this good life does not come overnight. They know, as they taught us, that Rome was not built in a day.

And, living in the same world as we, they know that this leadership to which they apportion their “goodwill” cannot please everyone. Which is why there is even a minute minority of Rwandans that ‘has a bone to pick’ with this leadership. Otherwise, barring those few, all of us Rwandans are happy with the improvements taking place. In fact, knowing where we were a decade ago, today is beyond our expectations. Whatever the minority say, none denies this.

Rwandans consider President Kagame visionary and bold when he ensures that all leaders in this country and the rest of us put our heads together to look into the future and try to figure out what will work to our advantage. To see through issues and thoroughly think out plans to improve our lives. And when he, without fear or favour, ensures that all leaders work with us so that together we can implement our thoroughly thought-out plans. And when we see that Rwandans, all together, are building a better tomorrow. These are our expectations. And that’s how they are being met.

If these are also the expectations of the donor community, then their “goodwill” is being carefully catered for. Their apportioned “reputation” should therefore grow, instead. And, being assured, as they are, that their “expectations” will be met, they should raise them even higher. Their goodwill is therefore not being squandered. It is being hoarded!

That’s why, my personal “beef” apart, we in Rwanda love journalists like the ‘take-no-prisoners’ Zeinab Badawi of BBC. We are like this American blogger I read a few years ago who said: “God, I love Badawi! We need her in USA. She’d grill Cheney, broil Bush and, for the hell of it, turn Rice into a quivering mound of manicured mush!”

Badawi’d not have got such a chance with those American leaders of bygone days, of course. As she wouldn’t, today’s. Nor would she, with her own British leaders. In fact, I doubt she has a chance with a big pool of third-world leaders to resort to. Few are willing to bear the glare of her hard-talking questioning. It calls for a leader with answers at the finger tips. And it’s only genuine answers that can flow off the tongue in such quick succession.

So, not for the first time, President Kagame was on the Hard Talk programme last week. And Badawi bombarded him with her rapid-fire questioning. In equal measure, she received rapid-fire answers. That’s why we welcome Badawi and similar journalists, like the blistering Tim Sebastian who preceded her on the programme. They wrest our message out of our soft-spoken president, who otherwise abhors going beyond “We are making modest progress.” If only these journalists could afford their audience time to absorb the answers.

Otherwise, the question-bombardment flows off Kagame’s coat-sleeve like water off a duck’s feathers. I know that, outside the call of duty, Badawi thaws over. Maybe she even tries to excuse herself. To explain the demands of the programme. And receives the comforting answer: “There is no problem. You are only doing your duty.” That’s the personification of Rwanda. And that answers her “polarisation” question. No one is left unimpressed by Rwanda. Only with the cloak of officialdom can one guard against expressing genuine feelings over Rwanda.

And only strong interests incompatible with Rwanda force observers to create different, negative images. Otherwise, everybody knows where Rwanda fixes her gaze. To a future where she is in partnership with her neighbours in the region and on the globe, no less. A partnership that benefits all peoples, all cultures, all governments. A partnership that must begin at home. With Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda. And, not least, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

No, Rwanda cannot “squander” the emerging market of her foodstuff that the DRC is. And, “international community”, sit comfy. The leadership in Rwanda cannot “squander” the lives of Rwandans. We are the reason it earned your “goodwill”, remember this. But you are not the reason we became visible to you, remember that, also.

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