Opinion: Standing Up for Your People

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Opinion: Standing Up for Your People

Patrick Ngabonziza

Mr Patrick Ngabonziza is the Founder and Group-CEO of MobiCash Group, a Technology Evangelist & Pundit and a financial inclusion advocate

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Leadership takes many form and is a destination one can reach through many different paths. But regardless of the path, the purest form of leadership is one that is earned. When leadership manifests as a call from those that are to be led, to the one that they choose to lead them, it ascends to the highest level of human governance. When a people unanimously demand that a certain person lead them, we bear witness to a phenomenon that transcends rhetoric, whose testimony to the will of a people and the quality of their leader rings so loud and so true it renders mute the cacophony of debate of the merits or demerits of whatever theory pundits choose to debate.

In December 2015 the people of Rwanda in a historic referendum, did exactly that. They spoke with their vote and gave their voice to a unanimous chorus and celebration of democracy.

But for a leader chosen by such a loud chorus of his people, such a charge is a duty. A duty free of ego, free of any superiority. For such leader is a steward in every sense of the word. Rather than espouse empty rhetoric from the podium and utter endless self-aggrandizing promises that amount to nothing, it is evident in Kagame’s actions that this duty eclipses mere civic duty. He is the midwife that dutifully and masterfully oversaw the rebirth of his nation from the ashes of genocide and total devastation.

This duty is a beautiful fusion of urgency, love and discipline. The love is born of empathy. This empathy is automatic, it’s a part of him because he is a part of his people. He is one of them. He has cried with them, fought with them and loved with them. His struggles are theirs and theirs are his. Kagame, grew up in a Ugandan refugee camp in a thatch-roofed hut. He joined a Ugandan rebel group shortly out of high school, rose up through the ranks. As a high ranking officer in the Ugandan army, he left the comfort and peace to help to return to the struggle of war to command a rebel army that had invaded Rwanda eventually culminating in the taking of Kigali and an end to the horrific genocide. His own life story personifies the struggles of Rwanda in the last century.  These experiences build into the soul a level of devotion that cannot be taught, bought or learned.

Upon this foundation of love, a sense of urgency and discipline come easily. In fact they are the inevitable outcome of such a foundation. Urgency because such a deep love for himself and his people will not let the soul or the mind stay still. It demands immediate action to bring to life the vision of a better world for him and his people. And he has done exactly that and done it in a span of time that defies logic. Rwanda’s children are surviving more than ever, child mortality has reduce by 70 percent;  and he has set up a national health-insurance program — which the Western world and all its experts had said was impossible in a destitute African country so recently removed from a devastating civil war. Rwandan life expectancy, for instance, has increased to 56 years, from 36 in 1994.

And in that regard the list of his accomplishments in improving the lives of Rwandese people is Olympian in the scope and breath of its achievement. Rwanda has become one of the safest and the most orderly countries in Africa”: per capita GDP has multiplied, national health insurance and free primary education are available to all, tourism is growing, and Kigali is already legend as one of the cleanest cities in Africa if not the world.  Internet and cell phones reach across the country, drivers wear seatbelts, civil servants arrive at work on time, there is construction, rule of law, and justice.

His calling urges as sense of discipline because the journey of a steward is as long as it is hard. The imihigo signed by each government official are the manifestation of this discipline in the government of Rwanda. Each year performance contracts are signed between Kagame and local government institutions and line ministries. The institutions commits to targets they set for themselves. Local authorities are held accountable to their targets, and civil servants can be fired for below-average performance. These are not empty policies put in place so that the government can make empty boasts about its will to transform its society, far from it. One need only examine an imihigo and you would  awed by obsessive attention to detail, they range from the broad down to the number of adults in a specific rural district who were going to be taught to read (1,500) to the number of cows inseminated (3,000). Such seemingly obsessive care can only be born of a deep love and care for his people and his nation to put in place practical, enforceable policies that bring that discipline to life.

The fruits of the union of such a leader and his people are a sight to behold. Both on the plane of actual living and in the hearts and souls of his people. They do incredible things, shape and mold societies for generations to come. They improve the quality of their lives and those of their children’s children. Africa’s needs as many Kagame’s as it can get. Men uniquely suited to the task at hand to navigate the treacherous path that is governance in Sub Saharan Africa, where it is not a one size fits all. Where action, discipline, prudence and an unshakable will are the requirements. The list of the accomplishments of Kagame and Rwanda in the last 20 years is long. And as amazing as it is, what is important to note is that, that list not the cause, it’s the effect.  The cause is the union of a leader and his people. The cause is the result of the right man, at the right time in the right country. To look at the history of Rwanda, the history of Kagame and to examine his temperament and methodologies, and you will see more than coincidence. You will see that not only did fate pick the right man for the right country, it picked the right country for the right man at the right time.

The Western powers condemned the referendum in December. They had their reasons and decrees, they all sounded great. That is what they are supposed to say. But one must forgive their short memories. One must let them be for forgetting their own times of crisis, when during the most horrible of times, the very democracies from which they pass judgment on Rwanda teetered on the brink of annihilation. When fate saw it fit to give their nations the leaders they needed in those times of dire need. For one can only imagine the history of America without Lincoln, where London would be today without Churchill, and then a post genocide Rwanda without Kagame.  Fate is as kind as she is repetitive, Lincoln, Churchill, Mandela, Kagame; the pattern in the same. To the West we say, as fate united you with your leaders to leader through your times of crisis, so it has done with us and Paul Kagame.

Whether it is Gandhi, Mandela or Kagame the pattern is the same. Whether it takes shape among the rolling hills of Kigali the banks of the Ghanges or the suburbs of Johannesburg, the effects of the right leader at the right time on both the physical realm and the hearts and souls of is a site to behold. This is Rwanda today, a modern miracle: Fate has picked the right man for the right country, and the right country for the right man at the right time.

This post was written by Patrick Ngabonziza.

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of African News Today. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s). African News Today will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.

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