A few days ago, a group of young high school students organized a fundraising drive for Agaciro Development Fund.
These youngsters, mostly within their mid teens and high school students organized their colleagues and well wishers to fundraise for agaciro and ensure that once the history of this fund is written, their names appear in bold.
We all know that there have been numerous fundraisers for this cause. But what stands out striking is that the young generation—otherwise usually pre-occupied with ‘Hollywood’ gossip--- finds the heart and soul to embrace this noble initiative and the values it brings along.
The key issue here is not what they were able to collect for this fund but rather the gesture. The fact that these youngsters find it within their responsibility to make a contribution is a score worth noting.
Yet this gesture should not be seen in isolation---it must be contextualized in the larger picture that will shape the future of this country.
Whereas most of Africa is awash with stories of the young generation engaged in all sorts of ill-mannered behaviors, including killing and maiming their own people and whereas the past regimes of Rwanda indoctrinated a culture of hatred and divisive politics among its youth, culminating in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, today’s Rwandan youth are a mirror of its present leadership.
Such simple but quite significant milestones should crowd our minds and shape the discussion, debate and eventually decision around 2017.
The fact that for the first time in the history of this country, the younger lads look to the future with hope and optimism and are willing to forego the social demands of a teenage life and contribute to such a noble initiative.
This act speaks volumes about legacy. And the key question here should be ; how do we safeguard this legacy ? A legacy that is beginning to shape the character and aspirations of the entire nation and a legacy that deserves to continue.
When we talk about continuity and stability, we should not be afraid. I read in one of the opinions on this paper about the ‘anxiety’ created in the run-up to 2017. This should not be the case because of the following.
First, the hurdles that Rwanda has overcome over the past 20 years are far more difficult and overwhelming than a mere decision we take for 2017. The basics are already in place and the drivers of this progress are well known. Therefore the discussion on 2017 should be the simplest of the hurdles we need to face.
Second, the discussion around 2017 should not be reduced to a mere third term. It should a debate on continuity of the values that are beginning to shape the character of this nation. It should be a debate on what Rwandans need---on whether they choose continuity as opposed to stagnation. On whether they choose stability as opposed to destruction.
But above all, the discussion must be on what Rwandans desire and not what others want for us. It must be hinged on what constitutes common good for Rwandans as opposed to borrowing templates that cannot serve our own situation.
When we drafted our constitution in 2003 we tailored it to meet our unique situation. We chose consensual politics as opposed to confrontational politics. We chose power sharing as opposed to winner takes all. We chose embracing our diversity as an asset as opposed to divisive politics.
Some smoky noise from detractors at that time, baptized these principles as ‘wishful dreams.’ However the fruits of this political genius are immeasurable today.
The same can be said on initiatives such as Gacaca, which, in some legal circles were dubbed as an abomination. But the results of this great innovation have silenced even the most vocal critics among the ‘learned’ fraternity.
What I’m trying to say is that we have learnt how to cut our coat according to our size. Therefore this same spirit and the self-determination to define and design what constitutes common good for us should be the same virtues that inform the discussion around 2017.
After all, if we claim to be democrats and believe that democracy is the will of the people, then so shall it be.