Kigali, 13 January 2019
Good morning to you all. Let me start by thanking those who invited us and those who organised this day for us to come here to pray, to give thanks and that is what it should be.
I thank all leaders and everyone gathered here today. Thank you for inviting us.
In the past few days, I was traveling and from the time we departed from here until we returned, the First Lady kept reminding me that we had to attend the Prayer Breakfast. I assured her that I still remembered.
I thank you all.
Let me start with what Dr. Rutayisire stated. He said that he is a pastor and not a politician. Yes, he is right. I am also a politician and not a pastor. However, we are all in the same team. Whether politicians or pastors, we are in the same team. In Kinyarwanda we used to say “Ikipe, itimu” as a translation of “a team”. But I think “Ikipe, itimu” are words from foreign languages.
But the actual translation of “a team” in Kinyarwanda is “Itorero.” We are in the same team, in the same “Itorero”.
“Itorero” is not only for religious groups or cultural school in traditional Rwanda through which the nation could convey messages to the people regarding culture. “Itorero” brings us together. Even though we work in different fields in our country, we are all in the same “Itorero”. I want also to say, if you remember what we always say regarding the values of our country, which we uphold as a country.
We said that there are three things which should identify us as a country, our leadership, and which give us a vision of where we are heading. If you recall well, the three things can even be found in what Rutayisire said, in what he preached.
We talked about things which define us or which should define us, so that they can take us where we want to go. That is Unity. We also talked about thinking big – bigger things, leaving small useless things. He also talked about it and I will not repeat it. Third, being accountable, taking care of our responsibilities as leaders.We talked about Unity, thinking big, and accountability. Three things. They were all put together in the sermon. A team unites people.
Unity: We are a big team of our country. So we are being trained in different fields to fulfil the responsibility of unity. But also thinking… thinking far ahead in the future and not just worrying about tomorrow; thinking about the years ahead, and what you want to achieve and everything else will follow.
And then from accountability comes discipline, of working, of values, of what leads us in our actions. I will then talk about… because when you have these three qualities, you do it for a reason. You do it because you want to bring that change. You are on a journey. You want to achieve a goal. Then how does it work out? I will begin with a simple example to say that all of us here, especially leaders; Leaders of our country, senior leaders who might be here today. But there are also others.
And when you think, when you talk about leadership, when you talk about leaders, you also think about citizens. And those citizens, among them are also leaders. It is only a matter of the institutions where people are based.
Some institutions are higher in hierarchy compared to others. And it spreads to everyone. But I want to start from one example. Doctrine only is not enough. We always teach. Pastors, politicians, we teach.
We speak, analyse. All of that should be leading us into action and effect. But I will start with a simple example. We are here today; from where everyone is sitting, we have all heard what was being said, what was being preached, which is quite understandable. What I am asking, what will everyone take home from here?
What will we take home? What will we take home in our understanding which must help us to change the way we work so that we improve what we do and be better than we have been in the past or yesterday?
What you see written here “Instilling Godly values in leadership”; instilling means it must stay in us. How does it stay in us? Does it stay in us? Or we are… Do you know those manual clocks that are hang on walls, the ones that are set every morning and if you do not set them they cannot work? Or a ball we inflate? When you inflate a ball with a hole on it, even a small one, you will find it deflated in the morning, and you inflate it again… We should not be like those two, we should be like those automatic clocks that continue to work for a long time … because when someone forgets to spin a lever, a manual clock stops. It even stops for a period which equals to the time you forget to spin the lever. We should not be like that.
How do I think it could be? Where it starts from every day, every time, it may be like here, where we have gathered, it can be another time, anywhere where there is a good discussion, good preaching, what we understand, how we are corrected, what we are taught should stay in us and also improve them and build ourselves from them.
How does it go? In simple terms, what I understand, every time we leave here: as yourself what you took home? What did you take home from where you were? What did you take home means that everyone on their behalf, when you arrive home, take your time and think about what you have understood, what has been discussed here, but take your time personally and ask yourself. When you ask yourself, you will always be truthful. When it is someone else telling you how you should be, you may see it as a problem. You will say: why is that person telling me who I am? How is he/she? Who is he/she to talk to me? How better is he/she? That is how people are, we should understand it. But when you talk to yourself, would you be unfair to yourself? Will you say, who is he/she to preach to me? No, it is you, you ask yourself. It is where it should start from before someone else comes in. Let it start from you. Ask yourself and if there things people talk about you or show you, find time for it and think about it, see if it’s true. Let it be yourself thinking about it and not from debate between you and someone else which may not go well, because he will want you to admit that he is right and you want to prove him wrong.
What may end such debate is you. What did you go with it? What are you talking to yourself about? What is your answer? That is what gives people the courage for self-evaluation because you have a strong basis of having examined yourself, and if it’s you, you will have absolute FAITH in the findings.
Only then shall we come out of pettiness and anything else and focus on constructive issues and not minor things because we will not have time for this. Pettiness leads us to failure to work towards the three things like our unity, because when you work towards what benefits you, you are also leading to everyone else’s benefit.
About what Antoine Rutayisire said, I am worried about being accountable to God for leading people with malnutrition, hunger or living a miserable life. My heart is not comfortable about this. But so that you don’t deliver people like this, it is good to be ashamed of this, but it all depends on whether you believe in these values, and whether you value them. Leading people who are miserable when you yourself are living a good life is shameful.
The contribution of those being led is also necessary because leaders alone can’t change their lives without their participation. Even they are human beings. We are all human beings, and everyone on his or her level is responsible, even those at the lower level are responsible of transforming their lives.
So there must be the way of complementing each other. Responsibility varies with the level of leadership. However, those at the low levels also have a certain level of responsibility towards their own wellbeing and they are supported when it reaches to another level.
Considering our country’s vision, we should uphold the right values that accord us the respect and all the best we deserve. No one celebrates living in bad conditions. A big number of changes must be effected in Rwanda and Africa in general and that needs to be undertaken by all of us.
I don’t think there is any other continent that prays more than Africa. But prayers must be met with action. Actions towards what we want to accomplish as our goals. Prayer should be about thanksgiving and gaining the strength to do what we are supposed to do and deliver results. We should not stay desperate and praying hard in vain.Exaggerated efforts in prayer depict failure to balance your responsibilities. That is a way of running away from your responsibilities that lead to what God expects from you. We should not escape and think that closing eyes towards challenges will change the situation.
At hospital, when a patient is feeling so much pain, they use anaesthesia to help. Religion cannot be used as an anaesthetic that allows you to be numb to the hard challenges we must face. You cannot allow religion to be an escape that gives the illusion that we are fine when we are not, which may lead to failing to accomplish your responsibilities towards people.
There must not be anaesthesia between the functioning of politics and religion. We cannot allow any other thing that can make us sleep and feel right while we are not. We have to face these challenges. Religion, as it must be done in politics, has to be about upholding our values: doing what is decent.
That is what we should focus on and put emphasis. Your actions and the way you face challenges must reflect dignity. You cannot close your eyes and believe your problems will be solved without your hard work.
We all have to play our part. We are humans and I don’t expect you to perform miracles. Do what is possible. We are able to fulfil our responsibilities except when someone is proud. That pride makes you think you can do what is impossible.
We always need to understand what we are capable of as human beings, what we can do today, what is not possible at the moment and what we can achieve in future, all depending on our capacity. But that capacity is built through hard work. Our capacity will not come from just praying and expecting God to do miracles because the God that created us also gave us certain capabilities that we should be using to achieve what we want. If we believe otherwise, we are making a big mistake.
Let me conclude by saying that all we have expressed here should help us to know that time changes and we have to change with it. Our children have grown up, some have finished their studies, others are getting married and they are moving forward.
As Generations come and go, we should think about how we are raising our children, making sure that they understand our values; knowing that what happened in the past is preventable, and that preventing it will not be achieved through prayers only.
Our children, our youth should clearly understand that to achieve greater things, sacrifices are made, battles are fought, but through hard work in order to avoid returning to our dark past.
Those Children, our leaders of tomorrow, leaders of this country should remember these values and make sure that we achieve our objectives, based on the three pillars I mentioned earlier.
Initially, with what we can achieve because many things can be accomplished, even by building on what is already there, also learning from our history then go forward.
Our children should be taught not to get involved in things that destroys not only themselves, but their families, and the country at large. We should teach our children to desist from using drugs and actually teach them to detest drugs, some of which are found locally and others they bring from elsewhere like it is something of great value.
We send our children abroad to look for knowledge and knowhow, it is unacceptable that some comeback home with acquired culture/behaviours which are not Rwandan nor African. I don’t have to mention them, because I am sure you all know it.
We have to insist and remind our children about what they went for; which is the quest for knowledge. They should bring back home what develops our culture, advances the Rwandan society and leave whatever else where it belongs.
If it is fine with them, if they like it or whatever else they do with it…Otherwise this thing of sending our children to those countries for education, and they lose values or embrace foreign culture, bad practices; and they come back when they have lost all values: they disrespect parents, they look down on peers and elders and pastors. A religious person being condescending towards a politician, when one thinks that making noise is what politics is about, and someone thinking they are special because of what he/she has learnt somewhere else. These people we want to imitate are also not the best (and I have come to see that), they also have weaknesses… I am talking about what I know, and I am not responsible for the way things are.
And believe me, people out there these days envy what we have in our continent of Africa, and in Rwanda. The very things they used to advise us against, they are now craving for the same in their countries. We must understand that what we have is also good, and what is not good only needs polishing to make it better. We must not be self-hating.
Let us uphold the right values and give ourselves the value we deserve. If some of the things need improvement, let’s strive to do so, and we do have the ability. We should not think that anything of value has to come from the outside.
There is a lot of good within us that we can build on…You see it’s like the story of shoes, how they came to Africa… You know we used not to wear shoes… but you know you have to always brush them to make them shine… Some of ours just need brushing, consistent improvement…otherwise they are good. We should be proud of our identity. We should not be ashamed of who we are and what we stand for. Let’s uphold our values, improve what needs to be worked on, of course we should also learn from others but only learn good things that help us to develop ourselves so that a day like this, a day of prayer should be a moment for thanksgiving.
Thank you very much and have a good day