By Frank Mugambage
Rwanda is commemorating the genocide against the Tutsi today. The year 1994, when the genocide happened, is a major turning point in Rwanda’s history. The genocide was unprecedented in both the scale and the cruelty with which it was carried out, (over one million people butchered in a space of only 100 days).
The commemoration period is a time to remember that the genocide was not only the lowest point in the dark history of our country, but also an indelible bad mark on human dignity. This brings out the relevance of the theme for this year, “Commemorating the Genocide against the Tutsi: Upholding the Truth, Preserving our Dignity”.
The patriotic instincts of those who stopped the genocide- The Rwanda Patriotic Front and the gallant forces of the Rwanda Patriotic Army- were appreciated by other patriotic Rwandans and together, they realised their common destiny- the challenge to build the future. They rendered extraordinary qualities in rebuilding their shuttered society with uncompromising commitment.
The challenge was to build from the ashes, the lives and dignity of the surviving Rwandan people. This was the insurmountable task faced by the new leadership and the people of Rwanda. Many thought it was an impossible task, but Rwandans learnt the hard lessons and built a strong resolve and determination to promote the positive values that will ensure they will not be taken back in time.
The leadership that has gotten Rwanda from a situation of “a near failed state” to a state that now offers great hope and opportunities to its people should be appreciated. The current leadership has demonstrated great sacrifice, patriotism, honesty and the determination to build a new Rwanda.
Rwanda has a clear vision (Vision 2020) which charts the course to follow in order to realise the transformation through a middle income status by 2020 on the road to joining the family of developed nations. The implementation of this vision and the associated strategy is already producing extraordinary achievements. Success stories abound.
Rwandans have incorporated the positive values of hard work into their culture in the fight against poverty. The leadership has relentlessly mobilised and provided the environment for Rwandans to add value to whatever they do so as to uplift their lives and by so doing, earned back their dignity. This provides a firm foundation for the prosperity of Rwanda and its people. As we have always stressed, dignity is our strength and it has to be earned through heroic acts of all Rwandans.
The success of Rwanda in the recent times is also associated with the country’s resolve to engage with other development partners. The prophets of doom and criminal elements pose no serious threat because Rwandans are resolute on continuing their development process and achieving prosperity. There are those who are driven by the desire to cover up their failures and criminal responsibilities. They have formed unholy alliances in an effort to rewrite the history of the struggle. These are fellows who see no progress unless it catapults them to high positions with unfair privileges (being untouchable and unaccountable). They plot to fight the very causes and principles they purported to believe and struggled for.
How else can one explain the outrageous allegation and campaigns, including criminal acts perpetuated by the likes of Kayumba Nyamwasa and his collaborators who imagine they can disrupt the progress they could claim to be part of, at least in as far as a collective legacy we share for the struggle we have been through.
As a matter of fact, one begins to question the commitment of such people to the struggle they purported to participate in. These pseudo liberators, whose true character was not fully noticed earlier because the focus was on the cause of the struggle, were always taking advantage and scheming to rise to positions of responsibility but lacked the commitment and self-sacrifice.
As the struggle progresses, such people fail to adapt to the new challenges because they would have assumed to have “arrived”. The responsibilities and undue power they were entrusted with as state institutions were being built are taken for granted and instead of anticipating the handover to institutions, they keep on scheming and quickly run into contradictions.
I have seen colleagues who forget that absence of institutions lent them certain powers which would inevitably have to shift as soon as the institutions are in place. They instead sought to build power bases and when the legitimate power shift came, it caused them internal conflicts because they don’t see progress unless it serves their personal interests at the expense of the common good. Such could never find a place in the new Rwanda.
Rwandans know the truth; the journey they have so far covered in pursuit of their dignity through building sustainable security, unity, reconciliation and working for their prosperity has taught and empowered them to endure. This, plus the principled stand of Rwanda and its leadership to expose those responsible for past and present misdeeds, is what has not gone down well with the conspirators, who would rather have Rwanda incapable of facing its own challenges so that the desires of self determination and owning up its development process is curtailed. They will not succeed.
The coming together of people from around the world to commemorate the genocide is a clear proof of the commitment to make ‘Never Again’ a reality. It is our primary responsibility to remain committed to this cause for the good of humankind.
Mr Mugambage is the High Commissioner of the Republic of Rwanda to Uganda