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Fired up with patriotic fervour extraordinaire

By February 9, 2024No Comments
Delegates during Rwanda Day 2024  in Washington, D.C., USA.

Delegates during Rwanda Day 2024 in Washington, D.C., USA.

The fire, the will, the enthusiasm, the passion, the excitement. All these were on heightened display, especially among the young, in the hall that hosted Rwanda Day 2024 last week in Washington, D.C., USA.

The ecstasy of some twins over a welfare project that helps Rwandan children which they have established was especially infectious, moving even foreigners.

And yet these twins are not the only young people in the Diaspora who have reached out to serve their people back home. Many of these youths, together with their elders, are carrying out even bigger projects with a variety of purposes.

However, what’s especially interesting is that some of the young people involved in such honourable service to their people may have lived in their present countries of residence all their lives. They may be occasional visitors to this country and yet from childhood, they have considered her as their homeland. And they are as fluent in Kinyarwanda as the next youth in the country, plus their knowledge of the Rwandan culture cannot be faulted.

It’s no wonder, then, that their counterparts in the country do not get anywhere near entertaining the thought of seeking opportunities for a life abroad unless it’s for a short education-acquisition duration. As for employment conditions, they’d rather come back home and hustle life challenges out with their compatriots.

This is certainly a marked difference from African youths elsewhere who are engaged in unending risks of roasting in hazardous deserts and drowning in deadly waters for a despised life in Europe.

What fires up Rwandan youths with this patriotic fervour extraordinaire?

Looks like they were bitten by the Rwandan traditional bug as foetuses in their wombs!

I have always expressed my dilemma as to how Rwandans of long ago used to greet fellow Rwandans coming from foreign lands with “How is the Rwanda of where you are coming from?” I think I got an answer.

And the answer came from President Kagame when he was actually in the Rwanda of USA! During that Rwanda Day, the president said something to this effect: “Rwandans may leave Rwanda but Rwanda should not leave them.”

Indeed, from the beginning of this country’s time, Rwandans believed that their country dwelt in them, rather than they in her. I don’t know about today but in the old days, Rwandans believed that their country was bounded by only a void; that she was the world and that this world had its God, Imana y’i Rwanda. Mind you, not Imana y’u Rwanda. The difference, search me, but, anyway, to them, Imana y’i Rwanda was the world’s God!

I stand to be corrected but all Rwandan scholars and whoever else has deeply studied the tradition and culture of this country have found that the people of this land believed their country and their God lived in them. And as they believed so, so did they believe that their unity was sacred.

Is this belief still having Rwandans in its grip, even as they take themselves to be modernised and, therefore, beyond that? Well, me thinks the belief has actually modernised with them and holds fast to their spirit. When as leaders you sync this belief with Rwandans’ aspirations, then they will, in turn, hold fast to you. You constitute the leadership that they deserve as a generation.

But before that leadership, the fact of Rwanda being within Rwandans.

I remember we, as a greying generation that lived mostly in exile, always considered the citizens of the countries of our exile as foreigners, not ourselves. And you didn’t think twice about making an observation like: “That foreigner looks like us, Rwandans” or telling such a citizen “Don’t worry, the God of Rwanda is with us.” If you hooked up with a citizen of such a country, like a spouse, say, they adapted to your language and culture, not you to theirs.

It could be worse. Where, for instance, you left a crowded restaurant and at the doorstep when a compatriot asked if there was anybody inside, you answered “Not a single person!” without batting an eyelid.

Many called such conduct a superiority complex but I feel it’s Rwandans’ pride in themselves. Pride that makes you feel you must be your best as an individual or as a collective is positive if you ask me. Which is how that leadership comes in. Give Rwandans leadership that says it wants them to go together, go fast and go far, as President Kagame posited at Rwanda Day, and that leadership will have captured their aspirations and correctly massaged their pride.

Rwanda among the safest in the world; among least corrupt; among cleanest; among most orderly; among fastest growing economies; among highest life expectancies; among most environmentally friendly; among most well protected by their army; among more ‘bests’.

As a leadership, inspire Rwandans to attain such peaks and their patriotism will be reaching for the distant blue sky.

Youth of this land, even as Rwandans cling to a time-tested old hand, they know their future is in your hands. The baton has been passed to you and they expect you to replicate your elders’ footsteps and similarly run with it.

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