Three days before election, the crowds gathered in Kayonza and Rwamagana in a continuous show of support and trust in the RPF presidential candidate. As the day gets closer, the supporters have become even more eager to assure President Kagame of their vote on August 9th. Many travel hours to reach the rally sites and often arrive before sunrise to secure a place close to the stage. The excitement and spontaneous demonstration of appreciation for President Kagame continue to increase as August 9th approaches. Though many remain skeptical, the unity and hope that President Kagame has brought to Rwandans is nothing but clear in the numerous testimonies at the different sites. In Kayonza, supporters heard from a member of the pre-1994 army who fled once the previous government lost the war. However, with one of the many RPF’s policies aimed at fostering reconciliation, he was allowed to return to Rwanda and become reintegrated into society.
He is now making a living from growing coffee and owns his own shop. In the words of President Kagame,” Rwandans have chosen and will continue to choose peace.” President Kagame pledged that the policies of the RPF will remain focus on supporting those who work towards a new Rwanda-one where ethnicity is no longer a base for discrimination and all Rwandans can have access to the opportunity to build a better life.
As Mukandeheri Josephine expressed, “put those who continue to doubt President Kagame’s leadership in front of me and I will show them how his leadership changed my life.”. With a small start up loan, she began farming bananas and won a prize from the local government for her hard work. She used the additional capital from the half a million cash prize to get a larger loan to build a guest house. With her new income, she decided to pay her own children’s tuition and took them out of the state fund for genocide survivors (FARG). As many beneficiaries of the RPF policies, Mukandeheri not only experienced a change in her economic well being but was also empowered to free herself from socio-economic dependency.
President Kagame told his supporters, ”the strength and the will that I see in the numbers here today will allow each of us to let those who promote bad leadership that we deserve better.” He assured the crowd that Rwanda is ready to work hand in hand with those who aim to promote development, peace, security and socio-economic transformation. Responding to those who pretend to know what Rwandans want or need, and have appointed themselves as the spokespersons of the Rwandan people, President Kagame replied “this attitude is nothing short of disrespectful…it is this disrespect of our nation and the will of our people that the new Rwanda will no longer tolerate.” As the stories of many Rwandans exemplify, Rwanda and its people have come too far to go backwards and return to a time of conflict and divisionism. It is the possibility of a new and prosperous Rwanda that continues to bring supporters by the hundreds of thousands to the RPF rallies. As many of testimonies express, the majority of Rwandans are in favor of President Kagame because he is the only man who has and continues to work hard to ensure that development for all Rwandans is not a distant ideal but a close reality.