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Delegates follow a panel discussion

End last February, 27th and 28th, was National Umushyikirano Council time. This is the yearly ‘gacaca’ dialogue (in Rwanda’s historical context), which had seen a three-year hiatus occasioned by Covid-19. ‘Gacaca’ because leaders get to account for themselves to those they serve, Rwandans here and in the Diaspora, as well as residents, ‘at the public turf’, so to say.

The dialogue welcomes any interested party.

Anyone from anywhere, within the country or without, is free to give a dressing down to any leader who has failed in any field or is caught giving false performance information. Plaudits are also necessarily conferred, where a good job of work has been done.

For the “dressing down,” there wouldn’t be a better chance for an “Ahah! Caught you there!” for those armchair critics who have mastered the art of branding Rwanda a dictatorship without so much as knowing her location on the map! Alas, to be parroted by our regional media.

Anyway, from their Western armchair, all they need is an internet connection device to listen in and signal when they want to shoot a question, contradict, comment on, commend or point out signs of dictatorship. All done, understandably, in the civility now known the world over as brand Rwanda.

Not so much that Rwandans give a hoot about Western opinion, really, as that it’s a chance for its activists to talk from a point of informed opinion. Again, of course, they are not interested in being informed. We know their intention as pushing hidden agendas but, again, fiddlesticks to that!

Much as, let’s laud it, some leaders there are coming round to appreciating our truth. To the point of giving a deserved dressing down to some ‘tree trunks’ calling themselves heads of state when they know zero about their state. At the risk of a bloody nose, to boot, such a leader tells them to their face how shirking their responsibilities to engage in blame games is an effort in futility.

But we digress at length, unfortunately.

Although, let’s face it, it was kind of castigating a false performance contract statement that, in our case, is welcome from any quarter.

Our Umushyikirano is unique in the world, though, and nowhere else will any genuine criticism be tolerated. Not even in our self-declared Western paragons of democracy who insist on shoving their lopsided democracy versions down our throats.

But our Dialogue. Our leaders have certainly made a good account of themselves on all indices since 1994. On building this nation from zero to doing better than most in our region. Increasing life expectancy from 40 to 70 years. Getting electricity and water to all homes but a few. Covering the country with a hard-surface road network. Community health insurance at almost 90%.

So, we are making good progress towards full self-sustenance; to totally weaning ourselves off aid.

All very well and truly praiseworthy but no. ‘Good’ is not good enough for President Kagame!

And so he paused the hard questions to his fellow leaders, questions that stopped us, the citizenry, in our tracks, too, to ponder.

Why should anybody in this world lead a better life than ours? How many programmes have been agreed upon by all our leaders in so many similar fora, with all requisites available, and yet have not been completed?

Why should there still be cases of incomplete work or lack of anything whose needed funding was provided? Why is there any unfinished business whose opening was anon expected? Most importantly, why this lack of constant intercommunication among institutions?

Doesn’t this call for a sense of urgency?

Hard, oft-repeated questions but whose solutions were collectively provided for, that long ago. So, if some leaders got heavy flak from their president, it was deserved. But what those spared did not know was that maybe they actually deserved more. Only that maybe they had little reason to give him hope.

Which, if they’d known, should have silenced their laughter, even if shy, and zipped their lips. Because when President Kagame drums on somebody or something, it’s because his sights are on the future, not necessarily here. His sights are on clockwork efficiency for the future leadership of a better-off people and for a country that’s up there, at the high table of countries of the first world.

So, if you ‘ate’ flak from the president, maybe you should count yourself lucky. If you do in many such gatherings, you definitely should. Which, lest you forget, calls for even harder work!

This, however, doesn’t consider those who get flak for wrongdoing, embezzlement or any form of corruption, sabotage and such ills. For those, from these gatherings our courts of law will be beckoning with open arms. It’s either there or off to cool their heels in the confines of their plush residences.

There is urgency in doing away with the state of poverty that gives the donors the audacity to treat us like playthings. We must work hard to attain our worth as equal to the best.

Africans are not on this earth as objects of pity, abuse. We aren’t here to be taught how to be.

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