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Life Reflections

After self-rediscovery, Rwandans are on the up and up

By March 6, 2020June 6th, 2023No Comments

Irankunda, anonymous before he (I assume his gender without authority, really!) adopted this Rwandan name, makes some interesting observations on Rwanda. That he doesn’t ‘but’ us the usual ‘buts’ like some Western commentators do, after positive remarks, is gratifying.

For readers’ information, the observations are contained in an article titled “Lessons from Rwanda on social change”, in ‘The Standard Online’ of Kenya for last March 1.

As associate professor at the University of Nairobi and from his manner of comparisons, he certainly is Kenyan. But is always welcome if he wishes to acquire Rwandan nationality, too. Only, there are nationality acquisition procedures.

Simple procedures, in fact, but necessary to test readiness to be truly Rwandan. And being truly so today is, interestingly, being the Rwandan of old!

Many of us have not exactly managed to measure up yet, but not to worry. It’s a learning process for us as it’ll be for you.

Rwandans of old, before colonialism, were men/women of integrity, uprightness, selflessness and independent-mindedness but with total commitment to guarding their unity. They guarded this unity by submitting to their own chosen order of self-management.

Irankunda, your name means “He-loves-me”. And that “He” is the God of Rwanda. It’s from the love of their God that Rwandans drew strength, confidence, bravery, resilience, the mentioned qualities and similar others.

That’s what enamoured them with the audacity to believe in their capacity to be equal to the best, even in those old days. So, from time immemorial, theirs was the Kingdom of Rwanda.

That’s the order of management they had chosen. For choosing it, they submitted to it and it gave them strength. I’ve said this before: as example, slavers may have ravaged many an African country but none dared venture across any Rwandan border.

However, as you well know, when the colonialist came, he was a different kettle of fish!

Just as in Kenya, he came with the gun and presented the Bible and taught us how to pray. Like your late paterfamilias, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, put it: “When we opened [our eyes], [he] had taken the land….” In our case, he took more: our identity, our values. In short, our very soul.

The soul that had weaved us into a tight web of clan families, as Rwandans all.

Those that resisted were haunted practically out of existence in a protracted campaign, carried forward by surrogates after colonialism, that surviving Rwandan gallants only managed to halt in 1994.

But how did the colonialist succeed in putting that tight web asunder?
Dear Irankunda, there has never been a Ruanda, leave alone a kingdom of Ruanda-Urundi.

Ruanda-Urundi was a patch-up of two kingdoms to make a deformed piece that was grafted onto Tanganyika by German colonialists. As you rightly observe, after WW1, the patch-up was shifted by Belgians to form Belgian-Congo-and-Ruanda-Urundi.

From there, the destruction process is too long to relate here. Suffice it to say after over sixty years of this steam-rolling in the crucible – the colonial misrule – some Rwandans had married into the colonialist-divisionism so much they were ready to exterminate their own.

And this almost became reality but for those gallants who’d stuck to their soul.
So Rwandan values are back. Unity, equality, uprightness, humility, selflessness, bravery, resilience, self-determination and more. Their total internalization is the consuming aspiration of every Rwandan today.

A leadership that does not guide them in cultivating these values will kiss its mandate goodbye.

“… strong economic momentum characterized by high growth and low inflation” because it’s supported “by conducive macroeconomic policies”, as you quote, is part-answer to that. Capitalism must have “a human face”, as you say, or the revolution of 1994 will have been in vain.

There are risky habitation areas, sure, but even if you explore enough, you’ll not see the likes of Mathare and Kibera slums of Nairobi, for instance. You’ll see mud-walled and iron-roofed houses with scanty amenities which, in any case, government is making efforts to get rid of by constructing decent affordable accommodation and providing some free to the poor.

Rwanda has only a few firms in all so far. But it’s true that some “profitable [ones] invest in solving social problems while making money at the same time,” thus supplementing government effort. It’s for more solutions that government is seriously courting investment.

In a word, the cleanliness you observed on the streets of Kigali is ‘not only skin deep’. It pervades and charges this country and its body politick. The body politick which replicates the self-management of old. Which is why the ruling party and the opposition parties, and anybody not affiliated to any party, are all involved in this self-management.

It’s the reason many call this country Rwanda Inc. with a CEO, not President Kagame.

As example, tell him there is “zero tolerance for corruption” in Rwanda and he’ll say “No!” To him, without negation, it’s tolerance. “There is NO tolerance for corruption”, he’ll stress.

That aside, the “tyranny of numbers”, as you know it in Kenya, has not place in Rwanda.

When the tyranny of a number of an imagined ethnic group was espoused, Rwanda went to hell. Therefore, Rwandans aim for cleanliness in appearance, politics, management and all else.

Irankunda, ikaze (welcome) mu Rwanda.

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