One month ago, the hottest news to make headlines in Kigali was how two roundabouts sprouted on one of the city’s busiest roads while people were at home resting for the week-end. Rwandans went wild on social media networks, posting before and after photos of each location, selfies of the new structures and raving at the city and whichever forces were behind this impressive feat.
It seemed everyone was excited. Except for a few.
Some people took to social media or personal blogs to diminish the accomplishment and to even tell their compatriots they were being silly for celebrating new roads. A few weeks later, the long awaited Kigali Convention Centre (KCC) was launched.
Once again, Rwandans expressed their delight on social media and the negative responses ensued. While I think some people take pleasure raining on people’s parades and are best left ignored, I couldn’t hide feelings or dishearten at the fact anybody would think any of this is not a big deal.
I asked myself; have we become so spoiled or immune that the rate of Rwanda’s development is no longer impressive? As Rwandans, we pride ourselves on the cleanliness and safety of our streets, the ease of moving around, the decent internet we can enjoy (most times) and other factors that make our day to day living comfortable.
Yet we fail to acknowledge that none of these things happen magically, they exist because they are part of our country’s vision. Below are some of the reasons I will continue to cheer on Rwanda and make its awesomeness a big deal.
1. One of my favourite things to do is gauge the public reaction as good news about Rwanda are shared. Responses from of our African brothers and sisters yield a common trend; “in one week-end all we can expect are new potholes” and “our leaders would have made away with the money”. There are also encouraging ones like, “as an African I am very proud of Rwanda’s leadership and would love your model to be applied to my country”. This tells me that throughout the continent, there are multiple examples of poor leaders failing to prioritise the development of their country. Since ours does, let’s make it a big deal.
2. May I remind you that 98.5% of the world’s population thinks Rwanda is at war? Ok, I made up that figure but I’m just trying to make a point. If you ask any layman what they know about Rwanda, his response will likely include the word genocide in the present tense.
We don’t have to look far, a simple Google search of the country Rwanda yields so many results about the genocide. For this reason alone, I think our public declaration and appreciation of Rwanda’s transformation are well justified, for those of us trying to change Rwanda’s narrative.
3. One of the best ways to sell your brand is to be a buyer of your own products and services yourself. By this I mean, if we are not the biggest consumers and proponents of Rwanda and all the elements that make up our country, why should we expect anyone else to buy into it? As Rwandans we ought to be Rwanda’s number one fan.Cheer on countrymen, let the world know how great Rwanda is and see the wonders we can achieve!
4. We’ve come too far. In twenty-two years, we have achieved the IMPOSSIBLE. We have turned around our economy, we have built roads, installed electricity and internet around the country. We have put up world class hotels and conference facilities. We have upgraded our international airport to increase the flow of traffic and boost tourism and trade. We have constructed factories to enhance local production and much more. All these efforts are connected, nothing is done in isolation. Everything that happens in Rwanda is not by chance but in support of our vision.
I consider myself a fortunate witness of Rwanda’s transformation. It is a big deal and should be treated as such. Next time you hear us cheerful ones rave about new buildings, roads, big events and anything else, remember we are doing our part by contributing toward our country’s beautiful narrative. Consider the celebration as a reminder that nothing is impossible, an occasion to reflect on our progress and to boost our spirit so we can continue in the same vein.
Furthermore, our growing list of achievements serve as evidence to declare to the world that Rwanda is a force to be reckoned with.
Acknowledging our success does not mean we are ignoring the problems in our society as most of us are aware of Rwanda’s shortcomings. At the launch of the KCC, President Kagame said,“We failed not once or twice, but on the fourth trial we succeeded.” The KCC was under construction for over seven years, subject to public controversy and speculation but, like the Rwandan spirit, the project persevered and reached the finish line.