The Japanese have a philosophy called Kintsugi(金継ぎ, きんつぎ). It is the belief that things are more beautiful because they were once broken and then repaired. The philosophy treats breakage as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. They use gold to repair the broken objects to highlight how their beauty is thus sublime and priceless, due, not to the breakage, but to the masterful repair.
Rwanda is a precious vase; she was broken in a million pieces. The RPF has since been taking care of her and today she appears much prettier than she ever was before. I couldn’t find a better analogy for the 30 years that the RPF-Inkotanyi has been in existence…
uRwanda, as conceived by its creator ‘Rurema’ and its founder ‘Gihanga’, is an ideal. What singer Muyango calls ‘Ijabiro’; the desired place; a united and strong nation. The Rwandan nation was briefly interrupted by colonialism and division of her people, and only preserved in the hearts and minds of Rwandans in the country and in exile; and transmitted to young fighters through songs of Kaligirwa, Kayirebwa and Nyiranyamibwa; through dance by Sentore, Gashugi, Cyoya; poems of Rugamba and tales by Kagame. For those looking for the inspiration of the RPF; you may find it in there.
While receiving the ‘Igihango’: the National Order of Outstanding Friendship, Madamme Daphosa Gautier – with her husband Mr. Alain Gautier; the schoolteacher and the nurse, who spent the last sixteen years of their lives pursuing Genocide fugitives in France; She said, ‘Tukiri abana iwacu baratwigishije ngo: Iyo wihaye umurimo uwukora neza, kandi ukausoza’.
The RPF has taken upon itself the task of restoring Rwanda. Spiritually, materially and socially. Basanye imitima y’abanyarwanda, barabunga, bagura umubano n’amahanga, bazana uburumbuke mu Rwanda.
‘It was not human, Mr. Hezi Bezalel, our Honorary Consul to Israel recalls, also receiving Igihango; but still, during the struggle and after the liberation, there was no revenge… however after you had accomplished victory, referring to President Kagame, you chose to forgo the presidency and let the president be from the other part, to reflect the unity you wanted to see in Rwanda’; he proceeds, ‘this noble and modest decision, would have been if Israel’s founding father, David Ben Gourion, in 1948 nominated [Mohammed Amin] al-Housseini, the leader of Arabs in Israel as Prime Minister and made himself deputy; or that George Washington appointed himself as Vice-President and granted the presidency to a British loyalist. It sounds crazy, but you did it; This is a shining example of your wisdom and leadership…’
Before the advent of RPF, people practiced westernized notebook politics; they still do across Africa; by accepting willingly to share power, the RPF removed the proverbial ‘zero sum game’ from politics, thereby taking a divisive and potentially risky exercise and making it a national peace celebration; the RPF reinvented politics and gave it a human face.
Yet, what has set aside the Rwandan Patriotic Front from other African revolutionary movements, is that, while it has put an end to the Genocide and ushered in peace and stability, it has what to show for its time. It thus hasn’t needed to dwell on the past, for most of its current members weren’t born or old enough to experience Rwanda’s tragedy; they are a ‘born free’ generation of first time voters.
In lieu of the typical: ‘We brought peace! We ended white rule! We gave you your land back! The RPF says to them: ‘look around you; we are delivering; we are changing your lives. And together we shall shape a future, which starts now!
The RPF’s way of Kintsugi has not been a bed of roses, as it wasn’t meant to be. We shall never take for granted the sacrifices of its founders and our country’s liberators. On that, I recall that none of it all could have been possible without the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA); Young men and women who put an end to the last genocide of the twentieth century; the shield of the RPF; the foundation of our national Army. Like the Intore dancers, it has known when to be gentle and handsome and when to be powerful and strong, for Rwandans and other nations across the world…
Concretely, this thirtieth anniversary coincides with the launch of the National Strategy for Transformation (NSP-1). That will be the last strategy in which Rwanda is remembered as a poor country. The next seven years couldn’t be more decisive.
German poet Johann Von Goethe once said: ‘dream no small dreams, for they have no power to move the hearts of men’. In the last thirty years, the RPF has reached for the stars! While many doubted it at first, its accomplishments have come to reinforce our faith in politics that unite the people.
Beyond a source of rejoice, their deeds put us to task. We fear no challenge though, for we will be standing on the shoulders of giants. As Senior Comrade Tom Ndahiro remarked in his recent writings; those who started the RPF were at the same age as we, the new generation are today. When our time comes, we shall not stumble, for they have provided the rock, upon which our efforts will be anchored…
Rwanda is an ancient and sacred civilization. It’s restauration is our collective task. The more one looks into history, the more one understands the philosophy behind the policies and deeds of our leaders. The home grown solutions, the human rights based approach, the Ubuntu, open borders and peacekeeping.
As she announced Rwanda’s decision to welcome African brethren held hostage in Libya, our Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo alluded to the ‘Political philosophy’ that underpinned our country’s unique choice. It is the philosophy of ‘Agaciro’. It would be a shame for young people to take government’s decisions on face-value, for therein lies the true meaning of ‘uRwanda’: The Universe.
In his latest book, ‘Rwanda, Tomorrow, A long walk to transformation’, Senior RPF Cadre Jean Paul Kimonyo relates the inaugural lecture of 1986 by Dr. Emmanuel Ntezimana, the Dean of the Faculty of Literature at then National University of Rwanda.
Dr. Ntezimana, he writes, introduces students to the continuity of the Rwandan historical conscience. He warns them not to take Colonization or the Revolution of 1959 as permanent breaks of Rwandan history. By delivering such message Kimonyo remarks, Ntezimana was basing on his understanding of ancient history to predict the future return of exiled Rwandans to their country; such a risky message amidst politics of exclusion practiced at the time -which reveals Ntezimana’s intellectual independence.
So to my age-mates and to youngsters, fruits of the RPF’s struggle, trying to emulate President Paul Kagame, its Chairman; Allow me to leave you with this abstract, similarly drawn from his speech at the University of Bahir-Dar in Ethiopia, as he received a Honoris Cousa: ‘It is not enough to have a degree, or to be young. Much more important are the mindsets of ownership, responsibility and passionate curiosity… Use your voice to stand up for what is right; be firm, if necessary, be defiant! You have as much stake in this world of ours as anyone…
And my favorite line: ‘Take your seat; Africa’s seat, at the table; and the high table! Whatever needs to be done; know that you are the people to do it; you are as perfectly capable as anyone. You do not need to be shown who you are or how you should live, you already know that… In every situation, strive to bring people together, never to divide them. We benefit from our diverse ideas and identities; within that, there is always a way to build common purpose…’
Finally Irish poet Samuel Beckett once said: ‘To find the form that accommodates the mess that is the task of an artist’; ‘This is a tribute to RPF-Inkotanyi; the gold that has repaired the vase, and the talented artist who oversaw the repairing…
A luta Continua…
Note: Some of the philosophies in this text were inspired to me by Dr. Catherine Duggan of the African Leadership University.
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