Nyagatare, 5 August 2010
In an effort to fit the extraordinary story of progress in the small nation of Rwanda, critics have resorted to telling the story that fits with their ordinary image of Africa. It is the story of a people led by a dictator and unable to choose or speak for themselves. Most of all, it is once again the story of an African nation awaiting the helpful hand of a western world that always knows best. Somehow, the hundred of thousands supporters that continue to freely attend President Kagame’s rally, the never before seen growth of Rwanda’s economy and the dozens of testimonies that speak of the subsequent socio-economic change in the lives of all Rwandans all seem to become insignificant in this twisted tale. When the choice of the people overwhelmingly leans towards the internationally un-favored candidate, suddenly democracy no longer means choice. Instead, the millions of supporting voices are silenced and their choice is immediately qualified as coerced or uneducated.
However, as President Kagame expressed the people of Rwanda have come too far to continue playing the role of the victims awaiting their savior. They have come too far on their own to believe that anyone other than those who have delivered results have their best interest at heart. They are now at a place where they can proudly stand on their two feet and freely choose who will lead them forward and not backward. In the historic cities of Gatsibo and Nyagatare, the residents gathered in some of the largest numbers of this campaign. Youth that were once orphaned expressed that they had found a family in the RPF where the hope for their future had been restored. There is Mushumba Fred of Gatsibo who was rescued from an orphanage and given a cow to allow him to have a new start. Today, at 25 years old, he owns 20 cows, a house he rents for 80,000RWF and will soon be holding a Bachelors degree in Education. Women continue to praise President Kagame’s internationally renown fight for gender equality. As Musengimana Epiphanie of Nyagatare expressed, “I went from being a beggar for over 20 years to earning a real wage and becoming a leader in my community.” With her leg amputated at 4 years old due to cancer, Musengimana had resorted to begging as a way of life until she heard the call from the RPF for all women in need to receive empowerment and entrepreneurship training. Today, her clothes sewing business makes over 125,000RWF. “I have said goodbye to all my problems” she says.
It is this atmosphere of incontestable accomplishments, pride and dignity that those who have refused to break their bond with the ordinary story of Africa choose to ignore. As President Kagame explained, “the people of Rwanda know what and who they want…they know that our goal has never changed, it remains to improve the well being of all Rwandans by building a Rwanda that is the best it can be…we are in the business of moving Rwanda forward and will not tolerate those who want to take us back in history.”