Before I delve into this let me get something off my chest : no amount of ill-will, across our borders and abroad will crush our resolve and determination to re-build Rwanda.
Those who seek to dictate to Rwanda how we should be governed need to know it will not work. All decisions about policy and governance will originate in Kigali. We are an independent and sovereign nation who must be respected — a People whose destiny is steeped in our pride and resilience.
Calling us an “enemy” and all the silly hollow bombastic heckling in Bujumbura does not phase us or cause us sleepless nights. It never has, and never will. And I say this at the risk of ruffling feathers among my in-laws. But it is a message that must be delivered.
After all, we have come from the abyss under our own steam, and Rwanda today is better off, socially, economically and otherwise than it has ever been throughout our tortured history.
Never before in the history of our republic have Rwandans been as cohesive as they are today.
Last night I was trying to convince a fellow Rwandan visiting from Seattle, Washington over a drink at Pilipili, (one of Kigali’s favorite hangouts) that in spite of so many flaws we have made incredible strides. Rwandans, especially in the diaspora, must have patience and faith in our ability to succeed, or return and be part of the solution(s).
No, Rwanda is not a Utopia, but we are on the right course. I hear that even in heaven there is not complete harmony, much as this is loose talk because nobody has ever visited and returned to narrate this story.
To my point, and observations:
Kigali’s vibrancy and well planned infrastructure is impressive. I dare say one of the best on the continent.
But “Boda Bodas” or “motors” as they are popularly known are slowly, but surely strangling the City. One notices the indiscipline of the operators — an obvious public hazard that needs to be reigned in. These motors are a convenient form of transportation to the average citizen, but there are way too many. Surely we do not want to replicate the chaos one sees in Kampala.
A few years back, Rwanda joined the British Commonwealth — an act of defiance that sent a message to France that complicity in the genocide against Tutsi was noted. I have observed, (not amused) that French influence is still with us. There is nothing wrong being bilingual, but why do we sheepishly mimic French ways as if we don’t have our own? Why do people use French, or even English, in private conversations? Sadly some among us think this is a sign of “sophistication”. Not.
One habit that I find silly, and un-Rwandan, is kissing or pecking while greeting one another. What the hell.
But I protest too much.
Culture and traditions ought to change with times. Just because things have been a certain way for ages is no justification to continue. I am talking about lavish and seemingly constant weddings that deplete people’s limited resources. How about contributing to the newlyweds future home and prosperity instead of incurring debts to compete with each other? The “planning committees” are such a laughable waste of time that should be relegated to the dustbin. I am sorry.
Every time I call an old friend I have not seen in a while to get together, they are either going to a wedding committee or wedding, or funeral. Have I been away too long ?
The measure of success lies in the ability to constantly examine one’s ways and readjusting one’s compass. Rwanda has come this far by so doing, and our future much depends on our ability to self-critic and making necessary changes, hard as they may be.
By Willis Shalita
The Express News