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Life Reflections

When “la table d’honeur” came to Rwanda

By July 3, 2022June 6th, 2023No Comments

July 1, 2022

In the early days of its struggle (1990s) to liberate Rwanda from backwardness, bankrupt politics, inept governance, scarcity, squalor, hate, barbarism and more, the RPF had no idea it’d overcome the forces arrayed against it. The government and its powerful supporters seemed set to permanently consign it into homelessness.

Still, it dug its heels in and never once showed that it’d despair, despite the stone wall of repulse and conspiracy mounted by a divisive government and its superpower backers.

Meanwhile, the RPF armed wing, the RPA, was down in the trenches to often rise and prod the government-and-masters into remembering to talk peace and return Rwandans to their erstwhile united cohabitation. Being a minute group ranged against humongous forces, the RPA was in an even more precarious situation; they could easily be wiped out. Necessarily meaning the demise of the RPF, too.

The rest, we know. “Anarchy [was] loosed upon” the RPF/A and other selected Rwandans. However, a misguided force, however great, may bruise but cannot annihilate a people with a cause. Thus, a disembowelled people limped back into wholesome, united harmony, against all imaginable odds.

Rwandans were once again one but their liberation was far from effectuated.

Around about 2018, one day when President Kagame was giving a motivational talk to a group of youths, he asked if they had noticed that there was always a high table, “table d’honeur” for the French-inclined, at any big event. When all chorused “Yes!”, he asked them if they’d ever wondered why it hosted only a few people. They all looked at him, askance.

You, said he, should all ask yourselves why some people have the right to the high table and not you. And therefore always strive to attain the power to also be at “la table d’honeur”.

It was an analogy. As youths ready to take the place of their elders in leadership, he was telling them that the question of some countries having the power to be represented at the high table that eludes others should always vex them. Because in this world system, there are countries whose place is in the exclusive club of the rich while others seem to in a sense be poverty-stricken outcasts dependent on the left-over crumbs of the rich. To always be at their door, begging, bowl in hand.

Why should anybody depend on anybody else? Are we not gifted with the same brain and brawn?

Leaders of poor countries should therefore never tire in thinking hard. And thinking hard alone, said he, was not enough. They must think smart. Work hard, too, and work smart to advance their countries. They should avoid the luxury of being complacent, happy with the little or the “nothing” they have. Worse still, consume that little and leave their people high and dry.

Our leaders must work themselves near-dead, with that “table d’honeur” of the rich as their target.

In my understanding, this demands clear-headed collaboration and exchange of ideas and together working hard to give fruition to those ideas. Such that in that ‘work till you drop’, they work with their people, while being frugal with the fruits of their toil. And sharing the fruits equitably.

In working in integrated regions and in an integrated continent, you can sit at the global “table d’honeur” and assert your voice, give it meaning. That way, you’ll be honoured as equal partner.

So, leaders of our continent, when global north leaders summon you, go with a glad heart if you’ve worked with your people and advanced: not as a vassal but as a voice to be heard. Go as partner. With equal voice. Seize the opportunity at a platform where you can learn and also teach.

When those rich of the north next organise a gathering, they’ll invite you at the high table among them because they honour your voice. At their Davos gathering, you’ll be their moral compass.

And so together Rwandans chose to remain in the trenches and continue to wage a war against the mentality of the inevitable third-world poverty. They picked up their traditional tools and forged their home-made-solutions. Solutions that showed they had values that could be even better than those of self-declared custodians of all good values and wisdom, hailing from the north.

Those loudly proclaimed values and that stated wisdom are in effect an attempt to veil a past that stinks to high heaven. So, brothers and sisters of the north, know that thou art holier than none and therefore humble thyselves. Let’s sit together, share ideas at “la table d’honeur”! Without the south, you are dead as dodo. We’ll never tire in holding that mirror to your face.

Moral compass attained, high and low gathered together as brothers and sisters in Kigali. That’s how last June 20-26, 2022, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was in town. Concrete ideas were shared on how to narrow and remove the gap between rich and poor, among others.

BRICS membership beckoning, with higher aim of global wealth equity? Anyway, “la table d’honeur” came to Rwanda.

And a standard was set in organisation. Few will be able to replicate the CHOGM in Kigali! Rwandans, brace yourselves for a future of hosting more such rich-poor global organisations’ meetings.

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