Nyakinama, 10 June 2013
Leaders here present;
Senior Leaders of the RDF;
Representatives of EAC Chiefs of Staff;
Ambassadors and Regional Military Attaches;
The Commandant of the Senior Command and Staff College;
Invited, Ladies and Gentlemen;
In July last year, we came here to inaugurate the RDF’s pioneers Senior Command and Staff Course. Today we are here again to witness the fruit of this important enterprise.
It is my great pleasure therefore to congratulate the graduates on successfully completing the course which I’m sure has been tremendous and challenging as well as rewarding in many ways.
The people of Rwanda you were trained to protect with additional skills and professionalism are likely and rightfully proud of you, but they also inevitably expect more from you.
I also wish to thank all those who contributed to the success of the course as lecturers both local and visiting and as insular staff.
The Senior Command and Staff College has taught you advanced military strategies strengthening your capacity to defend the people of Rwanda and its territorial integrity.
Above all it enabled you as senior RDF officers to develop the leadership, competences, necessary to understand your contribution to the achievement of this nation’s larger aspirations in transforming our people’s lives.
As you all know, the constant effort to build up and advance professionalism within the ranks of the Rwanda Defence Force and its conduct in the field whether in combat, peacekeeping or other nation building exercises is what unveil respect for our military both at home and abroad.
Let me say a couple of things here. One, a lot has happened during this course. The acquiring of knowledge, of skills, of technics, of deep understanding, of many things entailed in your profession.
There is something that is left to you to deal with that can’t be provided by this course. The will, the commitment, the conduct in exercising all these responsibilities clearly depend so much on your choice. How you want to use all this that has been acquired is left to you.
The full grasp of the ideological drive that has to be behind this is not something that can be provided by this or any other course. It’s up to you. It’s up to you also to make sure that you live up to the expectation that Rwandans have come to take for granted from you. In so doing, you also have to make sure that the successes of the past, so far where we have taken our country from and where we have delivered and the journey that remains ahead, are not in any way mistaken by anyone as a myth.
There is no myth. What we have done, who we are, these are real. They must be made understood and seen as real. Rwandans and RDF should be real people that decide for ourselves.
So this course and you who attended it should help this nation to continue on that journey of defining yourselves. There is nothing mythical about us. Even those who temper with us every day, in our small way but in our real way, should be made to understand that.
I remember last year, the same year that this course was been inaugurated, our country was going through a number of hardships. These are not hardships that any of us invited. But I think if we are to face them again, those of you who have been here for these weeks should reinforce in better way the rest of the country to deal with that.
Do you know why I’m saying this and preparing you to expect that maybe we are to face another time like last year? It’s for a simple reason. You see the people who wrote the story about us and put us in the same problems I’m referring to of 2012 are more or less the same people busy out there still trying to write a similar story about us so that we go back to the same problems of 2012.
And this has a lot to do with the historical challenges we have had to deal with and we continue to deal with even in the foreseeable future. One simple reason, you remember people called the Group of Experts under the UN. You know, they are called experts for one simple reason that some of them come from our former colonial masters. That is what makes them experts. And when they are looking for such experts, they seem to look for bad ones. People they know are negative about the country.
We had them in the previous group; we have them in the present group. And that is how it has been established that we should continue to be held on the leash by the Colonial masters through different ways.
One, if you remember the old days. That is why we want to talk about the new Rwanda as well. The Constitution of this country was written by a single person. Just because he comes from that kind of background. You remember somebody called Prof Reintjens. He wrote a constitution for this country and, by that, he is an authority.
Imagine, where were Rwandans? Why did somebody come from so far away to write a constitution for them?
Now in the current Group of Experts, there is one who has to be an expert because he is a friend of that old expert. And because he is also as negative as the other one who was against this country and against this government, that is the qualification. So the story is already written, you understand it. I can tell you what it is even before I see it.
And of course the others are waiting in the wings again with all kinds of threats. People come and threaten. That if you don’t do that, if you don’t do this, you know, I’m going to… People say remember, we shall again cut aid. No, we can do without that aid. We can go back to our hills and grow potatoes and cassava and eat those.
Remember the maize grain we used to eat? Yes, we survived. I think part of what this course must tell us as a context is that the RDF is not a myth. It does not depend on sweeteners. We are real. We must be real. And we must operate with the spirit of defiance. These people who come and tell us all sorts of nonsense, we’ll just tell them to go to hell.
As partners, we can be good partners. And I think we can really be good people to partner with.
RDF, as you graduate, you should know that this is a new Rwanda. The Rwanda that is thriving on top of mass graves of our people. The RDF that did not seek revenge when it had every reason to be tempted to do it. I don’t think anybody should be having issues with us. I don’t think so!
We must be left to live our lives the way Rwandans want us to live them. You know the constitution is a major responsibility among those you defend. It is about the will of the people.
Well, the will of the people does not always express itself through the constitution because there are those who don’t have constitutions. There are nations that don’t have written constitutions ones but they have a set of expressions that speak to the will of their people.
But the will of our people should be the will of our people. You can’t have people running around and saying all sorts of things. Let them go and say it in their own countries.
And Rwanda and Rwandans will embrace the rule of law as our main drive forward in our development .
I think I heard some people had things to say about Rwanda. They tell us to talk to the murderers of our people. People talking about FDLR as casually as that. And they know they are talking about these mass graves of our people. They talk as if we owe these killers anything.
First, I kept quiet about this because of the contempt I had for what they said. Second, I thought it was utter nonsense. Third, maybe it was ignorance. Fourth, it is an ideological problem which I think can only explain there is such be thinking. But I think it better stays with those who have it. We will have another day to deal with it.
Rwandans, being who we are, in our own way, in our effort to achieve what we want for ourselves is not a myth. It is very real.
There are significant achievements that have been made in promoting regional and continental stability and so people may ask why set up this college to run this course?
The first reason is precisely because there has to be a constant and deliberate effort to train our forces and to keep the training programmes relevant to the evolving security environment.
The second reason is because despite such achievements, there are still recurrent and continual emerging security challenges which remain an obstacle to the socioeconomic problems of our countries.
It is therefore our pressing duty to develop capacities for sound analysis of these challenges and design effective approaches to addressing them in a sustainable manner. There should be conceptual and contextual clarity in understanding problems. It is very important to find relevant and effective solutions, just like the few things I was saying a while ago. And as you know a workable solution to a problem can only be developed when there is an accurate analysis of its essence and dynamics.
The third reason is that home grown solutions to our problems are naturally more efficient, more operational and more sustainable as they seek to address specific problems.
On the other hand, answers conceived elsewhere and politically and institutionally driven by others often are based on their own interests and priorities. They are less likely to be effective. In other cases, they lead to a disaster.
The prosperity of the nation depends on, among other things, the level of peace and security, governance and sound economic development policies. An additional reason therefore is that at this level of leadership development, it is crucial to appreciate the relationship between these factors and the degree to which they act to each other to advance society.
This understanding makes clear the role of a professional defence force on achieving national and global goals. And I’m sure Senior Command and Staff College will have prepared you for that.
If Africa is to remain on the path towards stability and prosperity as it should, each of you officers of the RDF together with partner armies should be prepared to play your roles as relevant and active players, rather than passive spectators to our own destinies.
This is largely the real problem of our continent. I think we are too subservient. It is as if we also believe we are second rate human beings that must be driven by others from somewhere else. I think this course should continue to analyse this and bring out solutions we should apply in order to deal with these problems.
People must ask whoever says some of these things. They should look them in the eye and say “Why? Why do you think you should be the one to tell me to do this or not to do that?”
In many ways, telling you to do or not to do. They tell you to do what they don’t do, or they tell you not to do what they do!
And Africans follow that. Why? So in our small way, we Rwandans as Africans, we should be counted. We should be there to make our small contribution and define this kind of way of politics and life of our people.
This is particularly true at time a narrative about Africa is being rewritten from one of failure and victimhood to one of hope, dignity and socioeconomic progress.
This is the story; the letter that we should be associated with and move away from the image of failure and that of being victim. Why should we be victim? Why should we not stand up to that and deal with any challenge?
Let me conclude by reminding that as pioneers of the Senior Command and Staff College you have initiated a vital tradition that seeks to elevate to a high level the core values that you well know. Those that have characterised, and should continue to characterize, the Rwanda Defence Force. In this connection, I am happy to remind you that some of them have already been mentioned: patriotism and loyalty, commitment and competence, integrity, discipline, the essence of identity and purpose of heightened a sense of service to the nation.
With these distinguished values, you lead by example and you will be a source of inspiration to fellow officers and those under your command. Most importantly, you shall pass a unique quality to those who follow you – the true character of the RDF serviceman and woman.
Our government will do everything possible to ensure that you diligently carry out your duties to the nation and serve the citizens of this country.
Once again, congratulations and thank you for everything that you stand for.