Growing up in Uganda where—in the pre-Museveni era—men in uniform, especially soldiers, were indeed objects of fear in most of the southern, central and western parts of the country (and sometimes, parts of the north depending on whether power in Kampala was held by someone from Acholi-Lango or West Nile), it never ceases to continue to amaze me when I see such affinity between Rwandans and their men and women in uniform.
Rather than terror, the sight of an armed soldier, policeman or woman on patrol in our communities inspires nothing else but feelings of security. No wonder the people of Gisozi want to see more of them in their own community.
Citizens directly building a police station is a statement that should be understood not merely from its form but substance. Yes, it is a measure of trust in our police force, trust that is even more apparent with our defence forces (RDF), whose professionalism and sense of duty is exemplary. They are a symbol of real security, and not the opposite as is true in many countries. But this speaks of the exemplary leadership that has formed, shaped and infused a sense of patriotism and exemplary service to their country and abroad.
A photo of an RDF peacekeeper holding a child’s arm in CAR is moving, but fits in the security framework we have in Rwanda. That we are the safest country is not accidental. It is by design.
Problem is: some people/citizens take it for granted. Some of us who have lived and tested the opposite to the security we have, place a premium on what we have. Some of our compatriots who were in our Rwanda before the Genocide against Tutsi, have terrible, terrible memories of security forces Rwanda had.
To some foreigners, that was OK, for it fitted the African narrative. What we have now is redefined by a few to fit their sentiments….but the bottom line is: If Rwandans are happy, that is what is important.
Gisozi action is a testimony to this happiness.