opinionBy Theogene Rudasingwa
President Kagame's regime is at its weakest since 1994, with little legitimacy among Rwandans and increasingly isolated abroad. This is the time to mobilise and organize to end the suffering of Rwandans. But the people must overcome their seven deadly demons.
For almost all of us Rwandans, we know how much suffering we are undergoing. We are a fearful nation. On every hill we live in fear, anger, suspicion, and uncertain of the future. We are in jails in Rwanda. We are in jails in Arusha, and even when are free, we cannot go back home as free people. We are banished as refugees in every corner of the world. We are silent for fear of persecution if we speak. We are targets of assassination in every corner of the world. We are in the jungles of Congo, fighting endless wars that consume lives of young Rwandans and Congolese so that a dictator may survive longer. We are poor, and yet being forced to give money to the so-called Agaciro Development Fund, to a dictator who plunders and kills Rwandans. We clap for the dictator, and while he is away, or secretly in our hearts, we wish him dead. We are a humiliated lot, living as second-class citizens in the country that belongs to all of us.
The revolution is ripe, since there is enough injustice and human suffering among us Rwandans. The harvest is plentiful. However, the harvesters are few. Nothing important in life is ever cheap. It takes nine months of pregnancy, painful labour and a whole lifetime to get and raise a useful human being. Revolutions are even more costly. The number one asset for a revolution is commitment. It cost commitment on the part of Rwandan kings to run the show for several centuries. Even the Belgian colonial enterprise was committed to run Rwanda for decades. It cost commitment to bear and deliver the 1959 MDR revolution. It cost commitment on the part of the coup-plotters to deliver the 1973 MRND regime that lasted until 1994. It cost commitment and sacrifice for RPF to wage and win the 1994 war.
How much commitment do Rwandans have to win the current revolution whose core mission is to unite and heal all Rwandans? If you ask Rwandans, they will tell you they want change immediately. A quick and cheap solution, they will tell you. We spend enormous time on the internet and social media trading words among us and with the dangerous regime in Kigali. We are scattered in organizations that are weak enough to be manipulated, intimidated or bought by the regime. Many of us are neither hot nor cold. They have one foot in the revolution and another in the regime that hunts them down. The Hutu are a marginalized lot, but they dream that one day, as if by magic, numbers will do the miracle. The Tutsi, hostages falsely believing that Kagame represents them, are in denial, thinking that monopoly of the army, intelligence, government and money will save the regime for ever.
Kagame's regime is at its weakest since 1994, with little legitimacy among Rwandans and increasingly isolated abroad. This is the time to mobilise and organize, and shorten the agony and suffering of the Rwandan people.
We must face and kill these seven demons that consume our commitment to move quickly to end Kagame's brutal regime:
1. FEAR: Fear is the most powerful weapon in the hands of Kagame and his clique. The moment Rwandans overcome fear will be the moment the regime crumbles.
2. PROCRASTINATION: Rwandans know what to do and how to do it but they are still trapped in believing that it will be done tomorrow. Yet a day spent procrastinating is another day spent in misery. Laziness has never been an asset. You reap results in direct relationship to how much time, resources and effort you have invested in something.
3. MINDS TRAPPED IN DENIAL AND DECEPTION: There still among us who believe we can restore the Rwandan kingdom, regimes of the past (MDR-PARMEHUTU, and MRND) or prolong RPF for ever. The past is gone, and gone for ever. The best we can do is to learn lessons to help us change the present and re-invent, or re-imagine, the future in which we leave behind the shared bad past, and build on the shared positives in our history.
4. SELFISHNESS & GREED: The selfish Rwandans. especially most of us the elite, tend to think that the world revolves around us and our immediate family. We have become victims of instant gratification, without thinking about the future of our children and grandchildren. Yes, we still have to service the car, the mortgage, summer holiday, and a lifestyle commensurate with our status. We still have to reserve some of our resources to invest in our common future. Or, sadly, we are "bought" for a plate of jobs and money. We are enticed to "come and see" the new "Rwanda flowing with milk and honey". In our own country, we are asked to come and see, like visitors or strangers. Especially among the Hutu, we have become the generation of "come and see". To come and see your property, and that if you fall on your knees they will give back to you what belongs to you? What are we teaching our children? That they must bow in submission if you can only give them a job or food? Is that agaciro, our value?
5. "THEY WILL DO IT FOR US" MENTALITY: There is a false belief among us that somebody will do it for us. The Belgians and the French did it for the Hutu, some say. Others say Americans and the British did it for the Tutsi. The truth of the matter is that Belgians, French, Americans and the British look out and fight for their interests. Rwandans must look out for and fight for their interests first and foremost. Nobody else will. To get friends who support your cause, you must show that you deserve their help, you merit it and you will put it to good use. But you must show that you are in the driver's seat. and that no matter what, with or without their help, you will win anyway.
6. THE "US vs THEM" MENTALITY: Rwanda is so precious that very often we want to have it alone without the other. The other is the enemy. The other is the problem. The other is "inyangarwanda", the unpatriotic guys who hate Rwanda. The other killed my people. Who is holy among us to cast the first stone? The kings? MDR-PARMEHUTU? MRND? RPF? Hutu? Tutsi? We cannot re-invent Rwanda's past. It is shared, the good and bad. We can, however, choose to write our future together. We must be bold and courageous to look at each other from each other's standpoint, and see areas where we can stand and build together, brick by brick, one day at a time. We must begin where we live and work. We must reach out to the other. I am in the other. The other is in me.
7. GUILT AND SHAME. We have wronged each other for too long that the demons of guilt and shame have robbed us of self esteem. We speak in whispers so that we are not denounced as genocidaires, interahamwe, revisionists, those who deny genocide, terrorists, etc. On the internet we write anonymously so that nobody discovers who we really are. I personally know exceptionally intelligent Rwandans who cannot speak out for fear of retribution from Kagame. One told me he could not be on Radio Itahuka because they ( kagame et al) would connect his organization with FDLR. Incredible! Somebody with a PHD!! We go to places we shouldn't be to buy identity and acceptance. Now there are people in Rwanda who say they have "Tutsi blood" to gain a foothold withing the mafia that rules Rwanda. There are Tutsi who, I was told, used to claim they are Hutu during past regimes. We are what we are. Period. We should be very proud of what we are. We did not bargain with God to be what He made of us. We are the proud sons and daughters of the living God. We have all sinned but WE REFUSE to be held in guilt and shame.
When Kagame taunts us with his death squads armed with cannons and bayonets, we should stand squarely in his face, and like teenage boy David to giant Goliath, say: "who is this philistine who defies the armies of the living God?" . We are building a powerful army of free Rwandans, armed with peace, truth and unity. The giant shall soon fall.
So, Rwandans summon the courage to slay the demons of guilt and shame, " us vs them" mentality, selfishness and greed, "they will do it for us" mentality, fear, procrastination, denial and deception.
Nurture your commitment. Get off your b--ts and go to work. Or else you will die in humiliation and misery, and condemn future generations to a legacy of servitude.
We shall win!
Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa was President Paul Kagame's Chief of Staff, Rwanda's Ambassador to the United States, and Secretary General of Rwanda's ruling party, RPF. He is currently the Coordinator of Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and the author of 'Healing A Nation: A Testimony'