Don’t fret, Rwanda will be Fine: A Reaction to Rama Isibo’s Letter to Fred Rwigema

“No more Fear, no more silence, no more, no more, no more. I am a Rwandan, I always was always will be, I was never given my country by any man, I will never give up on my country. Long live Rwanda”-Rama Isibo

RPA commander Paul Kagame touring RPF controlled areas in 1993

Those are fighting words but I must ask the author of the letter, “what exactly are you fighting for”? He makes a lot of comments that sound extremely sensational in nature. From “the RPF has lost its soul” to it “it believes in objectives, not ideology”.  He continues to state that RPF members have turned into “greedy hogs” paying themselves “liberation bonus while real fighters aren’t acknowledged”, while all his assertions leave a bad taste in my mouth, one of the worst is that “we can only mention Fred’s name on only two days, July 4th and October 1st”.

In the process of political change, nothing remains constant. You must differentiate the RPF from the 80’s, the RPF of the Virunga Mountains, and the present-day RPF that is the majority party in this governing coalition. Ideological purity must, and was, put aside in order to work with the various political parties in the aftermath of the signing of the Arusha Peace Accords. 

Honestly, I like the fact that OUR party (I’m historically RPF as well. It isnt only Mr. Isibo’s party) is driven less by ideology and more by goals and objectives. I think I speak for the vast majority of Rwandans who feel that the bread and butter issues (which, even he acknowledges, the RPF is good at) are what we need to take care of and the rest will follow.

About the “greedy hogs” paying themselves a “liberation bonus”, I cannot comment because he didn’t give those allegations enough meat to sink my teeth into. However, I think that the idea that leaders won’t enjoy the spoils of power is both naive and silly. It’s easy to imagine that we’d do anything different, we are only human. When we put things into perspective, we must not only notice the failures, but also give credit where it is due. The fact is, government works, people are happy (if we are to believe Gallup polls) and a million people have been pulled out of the pervading grip of poverty.

You say that we are “weak economically”. Okay, that is true but I must ask, what are you basing this on? Statistics and indicators prove that Rwanda is not as weak as it SHOULD be.  We’ve “lost allies”? Allies where? Not in Africa, where the AU has endorsed Rwanda’s campaign to occupy a UN Security Council seat. Not the EU. Not Asia.

Remember what was happening 18 years ago? Should I remind him of the more than one million people who were hacked in their homes and farms? I feel I should remind the author about the dead men, women and children because I feel he has lost a bit of the plot. He says that Rwanda wants “its unique history to afford it leeway in basic human rights development”. Its unique history SHOULD, and MUST, afford it leeway.

Rwandans participating in Ubudehe programmes in Gisagara District

To even pretend otherwise is a waste of time. Remember Kangura, Hutu Power, sectarian quotas in schools and government? We cannot pretend that all these things didn’t affect our national psyche.  Rwanda isn’t Uganda. It isn’t the United States. It isn’t South Africa. We have our own demons and we must face them the best way we can. You can say what you want, but are people moving on? Yes.

Feel tired of defending Rwanda to your expatriate friends? Then stop defending it. Give them your point of view and move on.   I’m sure that there is someone with a point of view different from yours which is okay, because the difference in opinion is something that our nascent democracy needs right now.

But calling members of your generation “hypocrites and liars” is arrogant and unnecessary. To go further and say that there is a “death of reason” is insulting. Its takes away from the conversation we should be having.

Rwanda is a work in progress, and we can look at it warts and all, and discuss the way forward.

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5 thoughts on “Don’t fret, Rwanda will be Fine: A Reaction to Rama Isibo’s Letter to Fred Rwigema

  1. Thomas Seymour says:

    As a response….to Mr Isibo, this was a fairly weak attempt….its clear to see just by reading your article that you don’t whole heartedly disagree with his sentiments about the direction our country is heading…we (myself included)are the hypocrites he is talking about we walk through Rwandan life with street shuttered and rose tinted glasses conveniently ignoring the uncomfortable truths…we have no plan for a succession in the party after HE leaves which in itself is a concern..there is no obvious hierarchy…and those in top positions are sycophants…i think its about time the RPF had a non military leader..to rise through the Ranks..a diplomat, preferably an economist who would preferably be half hutu half tutsi ….but i feel your article seems like a show-piece to show on which side you stand rather than actually debate the issue..and i dont blame you…you certainly know on which side your bread is buttered

    • chap says:

      you can’t surely respond to Rama’s article with “remember what happened 18 years ago?”! really? that’s exactly the point he was making and you just gave his theory credibility.

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