It is amazing what one good leader can do to a whole nation of 12+million people. Having born and raised in Rwanda in the 90’s, I never thought that Rwanda would be where it is today. By the time I celebrated my 7th birthday, I had lived 3 years in a refugee camp in the former Zaire, now DRC. I was very young to understand the complexity of what happened in my home country in early 1990 and most importantly the events of 1994 against Tutsi in Rwanda.
My family came back to Rwanda in 1997 and has been living in Rwanda since then. I have observed Rwanda’s rebirth from the ashes in 1990 to a beautiful and bright country it has become; thanks to the leadership of the one and only President Paul Kagame and the government of national unity.
We Rwandans are very blessed to have such as competent, patriotic and charismatic president in our country. When I read about some of these western media articles about our president, I always wonder Why always PK? Why would a great leader like PK be so criticized this much by the so-called professional media? I get very irritated very often about their reports on Rwanda. These articles are compiled by journalists who have a hidden agenda for their own selfish interests. In most cases, the opinions of Rwandans do not even matter. Whenever it comes to assessing the performance of our leader, our opinions seem NOT to matter to these Western journalists. Again, I ask WHY? Why the fake news against Rwanda?
We are a small nation in the middle of Africa that has beaten the odds of many failed states. When the whole world abandoned us, we found ways to pull ourselves from the bootstraps and have managed to rise above our challenges, from death to life, from poverty to prosperity, and literally from zero to a 100, like Rapper Drake would say.
In the article below, I want to give a Rwandan perspective about Rwanda and more specifically about our president Paul Kagame. This is a direct answer to what do Rwandans think of Paul Kagame.
Get ready as I am about to take you a journey of a brief history of my home country, Rwanda. Rwanda Today is where it is because of Kagame’s leadership, his love and passion for Rwanda. You cannot talk about about Rwanda today without Paul Kagame at the center. It cannot be done.
His resume speaks for itself with regards to Rwanda.
- He stopped genocide.
- Inherited a “ failed state” and has managed to transform Rwanda into what many have called an “economic miracle” in less than 20 years.
- Managed to unite a divided nation and restored hope with the Rwandan people.
- The pillars of unity, peace, and reconciliation became the new motto for a once divided country.
- After those foundations were strong enough, economic growth and sustainable development was next along work ethic and patriotism.
- Rwanda is peaceful and united today because of his vision of the country. His ability to surround himself with a team of advisors and leaders who he challenges to be the best service members of those they lead ( aka the Rwandan people).
- His ability to lead by example, inspiring and motivating every Rwandan to be the best citizen for their Rwanda. Telling them that Rwanda is the people.
When it is time to work, PK leads by example.
Over the past 2 decades, Rwanda has achieved steady economic growth due to his ability to think outside the box and challenging Rwandans to find homegrown solutions suitable to the Rwandan community/society.
Paul Kagame wants Rwanda to be financially free and independent by promoting tourism and investment in Rwanda.
Under his leadership, Rwanda has made many policy reforms to attract investors from all over the world. Rwanda is literally branding and marketing themselves to position themselves a tourist hub in the East-African region, Africa and the world.
Rwanda and Arsenal will be doing business together for the next 3 years to promote tourism and investment in Rwanda.( 2018–2021). Get your jersey very soon before Rwandans buy them all. Haha! The official shirts of Arsenal will have “ Visit Rwanda” on the left short sleeve shirt.
So far, their investment has paid off and will continue to in the near future.
How Rwanda Became the Unlikeliest Tourism Destination in Africa ( Bloomberg, USA).
Why Rwanda is the next luxury travel hotspot ( The Independent, UK).
You might as well call Rwanda, a public company, working in the interests of her board members and shareholders only; the Rwandan people. All efforts are made to avoid any waste, inefficiencies, corruption, and other negative factors that affects her GDP as a country or net worth as a magnificent company.
By 2025, Rwanda wants to be aid free.
This fiscal year of 2018, 85% of Rwanda’s national budget comes from Rwandan taxpayers. Looking at how fast things are going, they should be able to get there by 2023.
This is the whole idea of “ Agaciro”, which means dignity and respect. For far too long, multinational aid has been used as a tool to control African countries by their donors and former colonial masters, Rwanda wants no part of that.
Paul Kagame hates aid. He hates it that Rwanda is still dependant to other people. He always talks about self-reliance and dignity.
In his words, “ if aid is not meant to bring people out of poverty, then it must have a hidden agenda”. He is very right if you look at Africa since the 1970’s.
Many economists have been sounding the alarm about the danger of multinational aid. Heather Stewart: Is aid a $2.3 trillion failure? ( Economist, William Easterly).
Paul Kagame answers only to Rwandans, and not anybody else. Over time, he has made it clear that the only people he is obligated to answer to are Rwandans and Rwandans only. Not colonial masters and the West (France, Germany, the US, UK, and others).
Paul Kagame is the kind of leader any African citizen would want to have.
- He is proud to be Rwandan/African.
- Promotes women rights in all aspects.
- Likes technology and how it can be used to transform Rwanda’s economic development.
- Empowers the young people ( like me) and inspires them to be the best in their professions.
- He likes Rwanda and shows it in action, and not just in words.
- Above all, he is passionate about Rwanda, visionary, and his work ethic is unmatchable.
- He is very disciplined, passionate ans caring. Rwandans like to drink. President Kagame does not drink alcohol (fun fact). Sleeps 4-hours a day, plays tennis, watches soccer ( Arsenal fan) and basketball ( NBA, Golden State Warriors). Likes to win of course.
- An avid reader every day. Apparently, wherever he is, he travels with more than enough reading material. That explains why he always sharp and up to date on anything regarding of economic and international development, business, entrepreuneurship, regular subscription to magazines such as Forbes, Economist, and others.
Paul Kagame is the man of action.
I call him a jack of all trades. How does he do it?
A former military general, a charismatic leader, a businessman, and an outstanding marketer. You can blame him for how he does it but you cannot argue with the results. The fruits of his work in Rwanda is crystal clear.
I have been following up with his leadership over 15-years now. The man cannot handle nonsense. At any point, he is able to switch roles as it fits.
- When he talking to the military, he is the General. The commander in Chief. ( To this day, they still call him “ Afande”, which means, “commander”). He is respected by the men and women in uniform who protects this country, 24/7.
- When he is talking to the investors, he is a businessman, the CEO. Listening and carefully analyzing all the deals and how his company, Rwanda, INC will benefit.
- When he is talking to the people, he is the man of the people. Rwandans love this guy. Young and old, home and abroad, men and women. You name it.
You think your president got crowds? Forget about it! Look at PK’s crowds.
- When he is with the young people, he is the father, their mentor and educator. In a way, he is the father of Modern-Rwanda ( Post 1994 Rwanda).
- As a Rwandan, Paul Kagame is the president that we have ever had.
- As a shareholder, he is one of the best CEO in the marketplace.
As the CEO of Rwanda, Inc, he has kept the board members and shareholders happy and satisfied. Sometimes, they are skeptical about his shear boldness and optimism for the country, but overtime, we have learned to adjust accordingly.
Many of his decisions are always longterm. He is always thinking 5–10 and sometimes 15–20 years ahead. It can be hard for those of us with a myopic view of socio-economic and political related issues in Rwanda. But overtime, we have learned to adjust accordingly. The Rwanda Express Train does move very fast. If you are not ready, you can stay behind quite easily and will have to catch up later.
Today, Rwanda is like a plane getting ready to take off.
All Engines are getting warmed up. Some are warmer than others, of course. Some have been warm and are patiently waiting the whole system. Those “in progress” are getting worked on everyday.
- Engine 1 is ( has been) ready: Unity and peace.
- Engine 2 is ( has been) ready: Safety and security.
- Engine 3 is ( has been ) ready: Hope and excitment for today and the future.
- Engine 4 is getting there: Steady economic growth.
- Engine 5 is always “ work in progress”: Sustainable Development.
All these 5 engines are and will always be the main drivers of the Rwandan economy. Some people might even add “Engine 6”, political freedom and expression. In Rwanda, we have our own version of the 6th engine.
Given our history of divisionism and political antagonism in Pre-1994 Rwanda, Rwandans want this engine to be more about cooperation and exchange of ideas, and not about identity politics and nonsense arguments, all in the name of pleasing the colonial masters (western style democracy). We have no time to waste today. We wasted over 30 years, which resulted into a brutal genocide.
We tried their version after independence and we got burned hard. The “Rwandan plane” crashed really hard and landed miserably. We were nearly destroyed for copying some western ideals we did not understand. We have learned our lessons the hard way. Today, we have chosen our version of democracy. The Rwandan democracy. We still express our opinions and ideas, but in an orderly fashion. Designed to build and not to self-destruct again.
Many non-Rwandans cannot understand our version. But that’s okay. Because our case is special. You would have to learn our history to get a glimplse of where we are coming from. Even then, many still don’t get it.
From time to time again, we have told them to “ keep it moving”. As Rwandans, we decide the direction of where we want to go and how we will get there. No need to explain ourselves.
Anyway, it has been a pleasure following his leadership as the president of Rwanda.
Thanks to him, Rwanda was saved and is here to stay. The future is bright and promising. Until then, keep calm and love Rwanda.
Cheers from Kigali! The most organized and beautiful city in Africa.
This article was originally published on Quora under https://www.quora.com/What-do-Rwandans-think-of-Paul-Kagame/answer/Didier-Champion .