Gicumbi, 1 august 2010
On the Monday marking the last week of elections, one of the most attended rally of this campaign took place in Gicumbi. Upon arrival in Gicumbi, the sight of supporters spread out as far the eye can see was yet again a testament to the trust and confidence that Rwandans have placed in the RPF candidate. Standing in front of an estimated 200 thousand Gicumbi residents, their representative started with “Mr. President, men and women of all ages woke up early this morning to gather here today and assure you that you have our voice on August 9th…you are the only one fit to lead us in the next seven years because your accomplishments speak for themselves”.
Illustrating the change that continues to spread to grassroots level, Ndayambaje Andre and Uwera Flora both shared the impact of RPF leadership in their everyday life. Ndayambaje had no home of his own and earned a living carrying stones. Uwera also had no fixed income and with her ten children could only survive from day to day by relying on the generosity of those around her. Following the government’s push to avail loans to the most vulnerable, Ndayambaje borrowed enough to own his own hairdresser business. He now employs three people and he told those gathered, “ I not only have a home but I welcome any of you into my home because now I even have a guest room.” Uwera received one cow as part of the “One cow, one citizen” program. She now counts six cows to her name, a house with electricity and she uses biogas to prepare her meals. “I am here as proof that progress has spread to the most rural areas of Rwanda…President Kagame’s leadership has allowed me to make my own living and send my children to school.” Today, Uwera counts five university graduates among her children-one of them a doctor.
Addressing over two hundred thousand people who traveled for miles to simply show their support, President Kagame told Gicumbi “ your ability to choose peace, security and your leadership-that is democracy and when you say no to what has divided Rwandans for so long-that is democracy.” He continued by reminding the crowd that the RPF has done what many believed to be impossible. However, he assured Gicumbi of RPF unfailing commitment to always strive for higher and better. “Let your cheers continue to be heard and let the world know that Rwandans know what they want and are capable of choosing who will lead them to their common goal of social and economic development.”
President Kagame’s message to Gicumbi seemed to have resonated all the way to the center of Kigali. As President Kagame returned from the rally, he was surprised by the hundreds who gathered on the side of the streets in the center of Kigali waving and cheering their support for the RPF. The crowd grew larger and louder as the President exited his car to stand on the street with his supporters. To anyone who witnessed this impromptu demonstration of joy by young and old alike, it was clear that Rwandans are not passively accepting peace over democracy-they have freely chosen both.