Don’t be jealous of the Rwandese!
Today the people of Rwanda decide if Paul Kagame can change the constitution to enable his term to increase another 5 years (possibly 30). That’s a long time. Many of us are weary with African leaders who cling to power forever and drag the country down with them.
The Rwandese issue is complicated (what country is not?), but they have a special history. In 1994 close to a million people were slaughtered in the space of one week. The fear of that happening again is ever-present in Rwandese life.
So…if indeed this is a free and fair referendum, the people will make the decision based on their desire to have a prosperous and united Rwanda in the face of their history.
They have a serious number of systems to ensure the country isn’t run like a night-club. Google their parliament systems, judicial systems etc, many are exemplary.
There are alleged human rights violations by the current president, Paul Kagame, google and read about that too.
But remember that at the end of the day, it is up to Rwandese to decide what is best for them. Nobody is as invested in a united and prosperous Rwanda as the Rwandese people themselves.
During my short time there I met a number of very hopeful people, perhaps it was not an accurate picture of the whole country, but it filled me with hope and pride in their country and what they want to do to it.
Moreover, I hope we can fight our jealousy that we have lived in democratic states that have become nothing more than (to steal a phrase from Kenyan writer, Christine Mungai) a merry-go-round of looters. Let us not be jealous that our 5-year democracies have not protected us from unthinking corruption and callousness from our leaders.
And to be honest, if it all goes bad, I would rather be the one who believed in the agency of the Rwandese people than equate Afro-pesimissm with intellectual might.
The Rwandese people know what is at stake, let us respect that and stop relying on NYT for insight into the hopes and dreams of ordinary Africans.
Follow the hashtag #RwandaDecides on Twitter and maybe FB so we can have our fingers crossed that it all goes well for them!
Here is a list of articles worth reading:
Reasons behind 2015 Rwanda constitutional change: Why Kagame is clinging to power. http://my.telegraph.co.uk/…/reasons-behind-2015-rwanda-con…/
Rwanda decides in long-awaited referendum http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/…/299…/-/tq6f0z/-/index.html
Rwanda Decides: Voting under way in referendum http://rwandaeye.com/…/rwanda-decides-voting-under-way-in-…/