One of the frustrations and big dream at once, in the generation commonly referred to as DotCom, is to have missed the Ku Mulindi moments. The generation DotCom is the one which was too young to be actively part of the liberation struggle but too old to have missed the saga surrounding the stories that came with 1st October 1990. So it is not uncommon to hear DotComs saying: I would have joined Inkotanyi. But is it too late?
The enemy that defines us
Fortunately, Habyarimana’s regime has disappeared from the daily lives of Rwandans, expect some bitter expectations of divisionism and terrorist acts, the life of Rwandans is no longer determined by the fear materialized through quota to access public services, indembo yaba-gendarmes, Uzi icyo ndi cyo, interdiction de travailler, laissez-passer, arbitrary arrests and killings to name a few avatars of the boat of mediocrity led by Habyarimana.
What determines the lives of ordinary Rwandans today is a much more scattered enemy than a regime denying its citizen the basic rights, such as the right of citizenship. Rwandans today are preoccupied by eradicating poverty through socio-economic development. The outside world has already started to brand Rwanda according to this apparently new struggle, although sometimes with old models such as the legendary obedience to authority as source of efficiency. Rwandans have not joined the chorus, unlike other moments in our history where we used to define ourselves in the prism of the conquering colonials; we have liberated our minds and are seeking to define ourselves not to join someone else’s ride.
United like at no other moment of our recent history, we stand before the task of building a wealth that will outlive our grandchildren. This task requires from us to be deployed at different fronts with success stories measured alongside increased prosperity. Certainly, both internal and external factors that have led to the surrender of our sovereignty are still looming, but this first line of defence does no longer define us. What defines us is the struggle to become a middle income country by the year 2020. The question then is: how and what are the Ku Mulindi moments of this struggle?
Imihigo- identified by results
The Ku Mulindi moments will be more about shared prosperity than shared hardships, however the quest for prosperity is no less a struggle than the quest for sovereignty. Asked what makes the difference between a good RPF cadre and professional, many DotCom seem to stumble. Yet there is a difference between good performance and innovation. For a good RPF cadre, it is a necessary condition to be a good professional but it is not a sufficient one. A Good professional carries tasks to his best aptitude; while a good cadre is a leader constantly reaching out for Rwanda’s best against any odds. A good cadre meets the expectations of what Rwandans deserve not what circumstances allow them to do. The difference between a professional and a cadre’s ambition is like the difference between value addition and value creation. Value addition is about more efficient process and productive use of inputs, while value creation is about using ideas and knowledge to invent new ways of doing things or new products. In concrete terms, the core defining our performance contract with prosperity will be about: creating more jobs, generating more revenues and a high rate of projects implementation. A good professional in civil service ought to be measured against these key performance indicators. However, they are not enough for Rwanda to be competitive and thus to survive without fear of alienation.
We will need to be innovative to bridge the gap between our ambition and means. Thus, the Ku Mulindi moments of nowadays are to be found in our homegrown solutions, where Made in Rwanda creates global values. The Ku Mulindi moments will be found in modern infrastructure across the country with air-railways and electronic highways connecting our creativity to the rest of the world. They will be found when our agro-processed products reach the shelves of international supermarkets. They will be found when our good governance credentials will translate into manufacturing safety-sensitive products and increased tourism revenues. They will be found when Rwanda will be known as a hub for sophisticated post-graduates programs offered by renowned universities such as Carnegie Mellon, MIT and the Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics. The Ku Mulindi moments will be found when we shall no longer live with the paradox of lacking running water in the great lakes region. They will be found when will have industrial parks equipped with sufficient energy and know-how.
Staying the course
As in old days, the quality of our leadership is our strongest asset. Out of a rebellion, the Commander in Chief has built the 5th largest peacekeeping force worldwide. Out of a nation marked by mass-graves, orphans and abused widows, he built a nation with mass eradication of poverty and the most empowered young and female leadership worldwide. Out of a social contract based on exclusion, arose a social contract putting individual dignity as rationale for all forms of State power. Unlike previous generations, our generations of Inkotanyi have a starting point, a proven ideological framework and a tailwind of RPF achievements.
Today, you can literally take Rwanda to the bank, as proven by the overly subscripted Eurobond. For sure we shall need to constantly innovate, find new expressions of Rwanda in a changing world, but our mode of operation will remain one of Inkotanyi: we shall think big, remain united, and be accountable to each other and future generations. We shall not shy away from taking risks; we shall be daring and creative, seeing opportunities in hardships just like the past 20 years under the leadership of President Paul Kagame. We no longer need to seek for parenthood, we have found our nation again. A nation that is radically open to the world to avoid being surprised again by unwarranted visitors at mount Kageyo. Our generation will above all need to stay the course of thinking big, staying united and keeping each other accountable. As the saying goes, Imfura nzima isubira mw’izina rya se.
It is not too late. Truth is, you still can be Inkotanyi.