The arrest and illegal detention of Gen. Karezi Karake brought my blood to the boil. The arrogance and unfairness of it all felt like just another instance where those with power and money bullied those without. However, instead of crying ourselves to sleep, Rwandans, like many times before, rose to the challenge.
As of yesterday, members of the private sector have raised 7 July, over Rwf 800 million in order to pay General KK’s Rwf 1.2 billion bail in an aptly named initiative ‘Ishema Ryacu, Our Nation, Our Pride’. What I found amazing was the speed in which this amount was raised through donations; Rwandans found close to a million US dollars in less than two weeks to donate to this fund.
This would not be the first example of our selflessness when it comes to national issues. The ‘One Dollar Campaign’ that started a few year ago in response to the housing needs of 192 genocide orphans came into fruition with the completion of the Rwf 1.9 billion complex in Kinyinya on the 28th, October 2014.
The Agaciro Fund was borne out of the withdrawal of foreign aid following the M23 rebellion in the DR Congo. To date, the sovereign wealth fund is worth over Rwf 26 billion and counting. All because people decided to put some of their earnings to a common cause.
On Saturday we celebrated the 21st anniversary of fall of Kigali and the end of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. As the President said in his address to the people of Gicumbi District, the victory was made possible through the sacrifice of people living within and outside Rwanda. They fed, clothed and protected the Rwanda Patriotic Front rebels.
Old men in the refugee camps in Uganda gave them valuable heads of cattle; members of the Rwandan diaspora around the world donated millions of dollars and last but certainly not least, the Rwandan community gave the rebels the most precious thing, their children. Neither French arms nor financial support could defeat this movement.
Nothing has changed in my opinion. We were on a war footing then and we are on a war footing now. The enemies are not as easily discernable as yesteryear, but like a snake in the grass, still as deadly. And like before, the only way to defeat this enemy is through collective effort and sacrifice.
We should use Greece’s current crisis as motivation.
The country mortgaged itself to the hilt in the mistaken belief that the good times would remain forever. Sadly, Greeks are learning that nothing does. Eventually everyone has to pay back your debts and nothing will save you from your creditors. Especially if they are banks.
Imagine if, for example, the Greek government had told the people the real state of their finances and asked for, in addition to a tax increase and less spending, an ‘Agaciro Fund’ solution to their woes? Perhaps they wouldn’t be in the mess their in today. Or perhaps they would. Either way, at least they would have done something. Rather than wait for a miracle from heaven.
66% of Rwanda’s 2015-2016 National Budget will be financed domestically. That is a move in the right direction. I predict that in a decade or so, we’ll be able to finance the running of our own nation. However, I must ask. Do we have a decade to waste? Can we reach into our pockets and move faster? I believe so. All we need is to pool the little resources we have together.
We shouldn’t only rise up and scream “independence”, when a crisis arises. We should continuously be on crisis footing because, if we are to be honest, our very existence as a viable state is at continuous risk. And the biggest weapon we have in this fight is our collective vision and iron will.