Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

Rwanda: Self-Determination Is the Way Forward, Scholars Agree

Policy makers and scholars from Rwanda and other parts of the continent have said self-determination should be the only way to go if Africans want to move ahead successfully.

"We should not accept anybody to fight the struggle of defining our selves because we live in a world today where we all have to be relevant," noted Louise Mushikiwabo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. "If we are not relevant, then we do not exist. Therefore, self-determination is about making your presence visible and heard."

The minister made the remarks yesterday during an international conference on liberation struggles themed "Inclusive governance, prosperity and dignity for our people." It was organized by the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) as a part of a series of activities to mark its 25th anniversary set on December 20.

Mushikiwabo was emphasizing on the new enablers for African assertiveness across the continent in the time that new threats to the freedom of self-determination are emerging. According to the minister, the African assertiveness basically means that they have got to have a say for Africans.

Even though it is apparent that there is absence of Africa on the table of decision making, according to Mushikiwabo, there is no other option rather than being resilient and assertive, but not aggressive.

"If we are not invited, then we have to find a way to crash the funky because we have to be there," she confidently said. "There is no other way for our process of self-determination to move on without being heard and be visible. Nobody should speak for us."

In his opinion, Louis Michel, the former member of the European Union Parliament who now co-presides overthe ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly which advises on the orientations of cooperation policies between the EU and its partners in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, the concept of self-determination is said when it gives equal chance to all population of a nation; the point he noted Rwanda is on track.

"I would say that the recent history of Rwanda has shown to what extent the will of Rwanda's authorities and people has been constant in building a state able to guarantee equal access to education for all its children, organize internal security and fight against injustice," he pointed out.

To achieve alike, participants were all convinced that Africans should stop from the bad practice got from their former colonial masters where some Africans still copy and paste all they do. Instead, scholars noted, it is time to come back to their roots and define their own way forward.

In this context, reference was made to some home grown solutions such as Gacaca, imihigo, ubudehe, agaciro and a few others that have helped Rwanda to overcome some its challenges the Rwandan way.

Christophe Bazivamo, the vice chairman of the RPF, the ruling party, reiterated the will to intensify efforts in the same way they have been undertaking as the party celebrates its 25 years of existence.

"Celebrating the 25th RPF anniversary is to think about how far we are in achieving RPF principals among them, building unity, peace, security, fight against corruption, doing business and sustainable development for our people," he said, adding that RPF was born out the quest for freedom from exile, poverty and injustice.

In addition, he mentioned that the RPF value knowledge. "It's in this context that one of our major achievements was to ensure to all Rwandans equal chance to access the education," he noted, adding that that is why they invited the international scholars to discuss all the lessons to take in the liberation struggle.

The one-day conference brought together policy makers, scholars and practitioners from Rwanda, Africa, America, Europe and Asia.

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