Parliament, 13 December 2012

Leaders of our country;

Distinguished visitors, including the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso and your Spouse; Representatives of diplomatic corps and international organizations operating in Rwanda

Grassroots Leaders;

Rwandans living in Rwanda and from abroad;

I thank you for your time and your contributions towards the success of this dialogue.

I would like to say that whatever we exchange here is in keeping with our objective of “Self Reliance” which is very relevant for reasons we will discuss today. I would like to emphasise the importance of this dialogue, which is a chance to share different ideas, our country’s politics, and our individual and collective capacities for the good of our country. We are here to find a common direction.

The Development and growth of our nation should come first; the well-being of Rwandans should be the focus of our dialogue. I would like to add that as we gather for this dialogue to share our different strengths and ideas, we should also have a dialogue with other nations. I say this because some countries have been interfering in our affairs.

The impact of this interference necessitates a dialogue with them to agree on certain principles, because we cannot have a common vision and then entertain external disruptions.

Another reason for this dialogue is to share a common understanding and also have time to interact. It’s like sharing a pot of traditional beer as we do in our culture. This dialogue is not as peaceful as one might think; having this dialogue is like launching a war and calling people to join in. It’s a war to fight against poverty, diseases, hunger; a war for development. It’s not a simple thing.

When we talk of self sufficiency, we know it doesn’t come easy. We know dignity and self reliance is a struggle with a huge cost. This is an expensive struggle not only in terms of money but because whenever you want to rely on yourself, there are always people who want you to rely on them instead.

Whenever you want to achieve economic growth there are always those who want to block you from achieving that goal; whenever you want to have security, there are always those who want to destabilise you.

This is why we need to have a dialogue with these people, at time when our country is going through these very problems.

What Rwanda is experiencing today like going to court because somebody was killed, the body dropped at your door and then the police is called and you are accused of being the killer yet it was someone else. The person we are accused of killing is our neighbour Congo. Those accusing us killed him long time ago and then dumped his corpse at your door. These are the same people who decide to block aid they were giving. The next day they tell you that ‘You know what, we think you have not done this, maybe when you do what we want; we will say it’s not you.” When you ask them what they want you to do, they say: “Wait, we will be right back.” When they come back they say: “We know it’s you”. When you ask what changed, they tell you that this is how they want it to be.

And this happens repeatedly, once, twice, thrice… But I think that we should blame ourselves for accepting to be taken for granted. Why should we allow people to treat us like doors that they open and close as they please? What is lacking in Rwandans; why should we be this docile? Why can’t we resist being condemned and judged for someone else’s crime? We may argue that is the nature of the world we live in, but then, why should we accept to take the position of victim? The cost of accepting it is much higher than the cost of pushing back and rejecting this treatment. We are not expected to do anything less than refuse to be treated this way. That would not be dignified.

There are good people out there but the bad people are much louder and therefore their voices are heard more and tend to be considered by policy makers. You will find that ordinary people in these powerful countries are not a problem – the problem is the policy makers who shape narratives which they give to their media who then fabricate story lines that fit with the narrative. They teach us ideals of democracy in the morning and in the evening they tell us to do what they tell us to do.

They teach us democracy and human rights, and they come back and say that what they tell is what should be respected. One journalist gives a wrong image of Rwanda and this ends up being more credible than how Rwandans define themselves. That is what happens; they create lies and tell you that you don’t have any say in the matter. In general Rwandans don’t like to speak. But this does not mean that they don’t have anything to say, perhaps the time is not appropriate. How can one or two people define Rwanda? Why should we accept this? The first problem for us is that we are Africans. Ask Burkina Faso the problems they face, they are even bigger than ours, but the main challenge is that we Africans accept it, and even when an African tries to challenge this injustice, they are silenced.

A good African journalist is one who insults their own country as western journalists do when reporting about Africa. They are awarded for this and seen as good journalists because they emulate western journalists.

The second challenge is Africans or African leaders who make terrible mistakes, giving these people the opportunity to judge all Africans as being the same. If you try to challenge this wrong perception of Africans, their attitude is “how dare you? Why do you want to be like us? You are an African; you should be a dictator and corrupt”. At the end they take a stick and guide you like cows or sheep.

They treat us like cows but the biggest problem is when we accept to be treated that way by doing things that provide them with a reason to do so.

Then the third problem is those who emulate them, who just look at Africa the same way outsiders do. The self sufficiency we are talking about here, the Agaciro we keep repeating, you can’t achieve these if you don’t stand up for your rights. You should be ready to fight for it if need be, you shouldn’t shy away. And if you fail to do so, the consequences are far greater than daring to fight, it is simple logic. That noble act of standing and fighting for your rights doesn’t even mean being angry with those who treat you unjustly, you can do it with a big smile on your face. Even with a smile you can say no. When you get angry, you make them happy because that is what they want.

Let us be ready, let us fight for our rights, let us discuss how to go about it but above all, let us implement what we have agreed to do to achieve self reliance. Let us commit ourselves; it is hard but no one has ever achieved good results without working hard.

I call on you to fight those who want to be the authors of our history and in most cases shaping it with lies; no one has that right but us. Those who want to write our history wrongly, the people you only hear their names, should you happen to meet them, you would see they can’t do anything but that; it suits them.

The injustice of this world is horrendous; they just send people, like those experts you have heard about. They first define what they need from them; dictate conclusions they want to get from the research, prior to investigations, then simply send them off to find supporting facts and evidence to pre-determined conclusions. That is how these so called reports are done, they are reports made before investigations.

So you understand that this kind of vicious mission doesn’t even need a team of experts; it only requires someone who wants that job and who agrees with the ideology of mistreating Africans. Writing the report first then going to look for evidence later; that’s how it works.

But you all know this; when it comes to Rwanda it’s even worse: they first wrote a report, then they went to look for evidence and during this process, when the report was not even out yet, they condemned and sanctioned Rwanda.

Where have you seen this kind of methodology? And there is after all, massive efforts and an investment of $1.4 billion per year, plus a 20,000-strong force to solve a problem and when it doesn’t work you start blaming the neighbour. The ones who went to solve that problem, what explanations do they have? Is Rwanda expected to solve its own problem as well as those of its neighbours?

I say, if you want me to solve the problem of a neighbour or carry the burdens of my neighbours, pay me. You can’t pay others, waste your money and when you fail, you come to me and say, no, you must solve that problem. How? I have my own problems to deal with.

My fellow Rwandans, if you are too timid to stand up against this, I am not. If you can’t stand up and fight, then you shall never see self-efficiency. We need to stand up and fight. We must be seen to resist this injustice done to us and we must demonstrate it in how we push back against our problems. The old and young, you need to stand up. I say this especially to our future generation. Let us continue from here and work hard to attain our self-efficiency and stop relying on others.

I wish you all a very productive national dialogue.