Rwandans warned not to forget lessons from their recent history

By A. Nzeyimana

Most societies, if not all, are ruled by a relative small minority, legally entitled or self-imposed, which does everything to hide from citizens the true picture of issues. The group, whatever is its official ideological affiliation, goes as far as brainwashing its subjects using public propaganda techniques to retain political power among its members.

TV programmes, newspapers’ editorials, policies in all aspects of national life are consciously or automatically guided by the same tendency of preserving interests of that group. Mechanisms are put in place to distract people from finding time to reflect seriously on real underlying causes of problems they are faced with.

As a consequence, effective solutions which could become sustainable are not given space to emerge. Such situation prevails, with only contextual differences, in both developed countries and those said to be aspiring to become.
There are individuals who argue that developing countries should not put high their aspirations for democracy, rule of law, and other societal values that most of us, and sometime wrongly, associate with the West.
The argument is that, since it took to Western societies several centuries to get where they stand today, there shouldn’t be any strict comparison between totally diverse countries which have followed historically different economic and political paths.

Though I can agree at some extent with such assertion, especially on the issue of not copying blindly from others, my disagreement relates to any acceptance and apparent tolerance of endemic corruption or widespread abuses of human rights in some dictatorial regimes.
The fact that they are [or have been for far too long] at an early stage of incorporating for example mechanisms of government’s transparency or respect of human rights could not be an excuse. But the most controversial issue which appears unacceptable is the legitimacy provided by the international community, i.e. the West, to these dictators.

What legitimises a political leader?  Is it the fear or trust that their personality mirrors in the face of those they lead? In the situation of Rwanda, it could be said [even with some reserves from a relatively small fraction of Rwandans] that Gregoire Kayibanda, the first president of the country after its independence, was the only leader who got into power with the full trust of a majority of his compatriots. Why him and not any other?
Through his social and political actions prior to becoming entrusted to lead, he had developed an understanding of Rwandans and followed important values that most of them could feel associated with. His professional career and the way he got into power put high his credentials among most Rwandans of that time to lead them. His final years in power were unfortunately a different story.

Learning from Rwandan recent history of indescribable atrocities and extreme abuse of power of Paul Kagame, strong man of the country since 1994, how does a radical change from past and current political path could be possible in the country’s leadership?  This is an important question present generation of Rwandans, aware and able to understand objectively their country’s social and historical context should seriously reflect on.
Given the fact that those who, at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s, sought without much success a significant shift from politics non conducive to a sustainable future for all Rwandans, there are today premises that any solid political outlook should have to expect some credible change from the past.

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