Home Rwanda Decides 2024 I am “Tutu” “Hutsi” And Much Much More Besides, Let’s Be Rwandans, Kagame

I am “Tutu” “Hutsi” And Much Much More Besides, Let’s Be Rwandans, Kagame

by Vincent Gasana
10:54 am

It would be doing him an injustice to suggest that Paul Kagame is taking his victory at the forthcoming elections for granted. But it is also true to say that he is all but assured of an overwhelming majority of votes that will be cast. This makes his campaign uniquely stand out.

On fourth day of the campaign trail, in Nyarugenge, Paul Kagame’s message was, if not exactly the same, in tune with his first three election stump speeches. Except that to sit his addresses within the perspective of normal stump speeches, is to miss not only the style of the man, but also the nature of his campaign.

The main objective of any candidate campaigning for political office, in a democratic system, is to garner sufficient votes to be installed in that position. While Kagame himself would abhore any kind of complacency – complacency being an unforgivable sin within his RPF party – it would nonetheless be too pat to pretend that he needs to ask for votes.

As a candidate, Kagame finds himself in the enviable position of being able to say to the electorate, you know me, you know what you would get with me, if you would like that to continue let me know, if not, as he said to his supporters on the first day of the campaign, “nta mpaka”, or you will get no argument from me. On that occasion, as in the next three campaigns, the enormous crowd of hundreds of thousands, roared back, “Ni wowe, ni wowe, ni wowe” it is you, you are our choice.

The majority listening to him, have of course, been RPF party members, but the crowds reflect party support in the country. In fact, the party faithful compete with the non affiliated in their enthusiasm for the candidate.

The election campaign falls at the same time that Rwanda marks Kwibuka30, the 30th year of the rememberance of the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi. From 4th July, Kwibuka30, will enter into Kwibohora30, the defeat of the genocidal establishment, ending the genocide and liberating the nation.

Rather than tour the country, asking for votes, Paul Kagame has opted to use the campaigning period, as an opportunity to have a conversation with the nation, to take stock of where the nation has been, where it is, where it needs to go, and it seems above all, to thank Rwandans, for having been good fellow travellers on the thirty year journey.

This message continued in Nyarugenge. He may be the candidate for the RPF, and its partners, he told the exuberant crowd, however, he had come not to ask for their vote, but to thank them for their part, in the thirty year journey they have travelled together.

And our struggle has been inordinately hard. Imagine being forsaken, and then have outsiders gang up against you, unremitting noise against Rwanda. Ordinarily, this Rwanda, could not have survived…but for the unity among Rwandans, that we talk about and promote. To come together, is strength, to have clear objectives is strength, to work for the best you wish for, is strengh…that is the approach we took in changing our history…”

The trust that is between you, the RPF and others who work with it, who wish for this nation to always make history in what we wish, speaks for itself. What brought me here, is tell you to keep that trust, together to continue to build our nation. As you put it, to say that the best is yet to come, is a promise, not a rumour.”

The rules of campaigning are that the candidate talks his or her achievements. This candidate however, looks to something deeper, the achievements of the nation, of society, and so, he turns the rules of campaigning on their head.

As he often does, Kagame reminds his audience that although laudable and to be celebrated, the achievements of the last thirty years, are a long way from where Rwanda needs to be. No one he urges, should allow him or herself to get too carried away.

We still have a long way to go…What we have achieved does not make us complacent. Rather they give us impetus to impetus to keep working for all that we wish for the future…”

Wisdom, vision, far sightenedness, are attributes often ascribed to Paul Kagame. A quality that is rarely noticed about him howevever, is an ability to single mindedly aim for the highest, imaginable possibilties, while remaining firmly down to earth.

In Nyarugenge, he exhorts his audience to aim ever higher, while anchoring them to practical reality.

We have heard about the much that we have struggled to achieve in the last thirty years. And it is a lot. But it also seems a lot in part because we had to come from so far. We had to come from what was not a good place” he said, with classic understatement, “so when what is desirable was achieved where it had never been, there was no point of comparison. In the journey ahead of us now, is to make the desirable achievements we have now become used to, the foundation on which we build even more desirable achievements.”

And, he tells his audience, it is not just the concrete developments, but the intangible things too.

And that goes for the forthcoming elections. Whoever we elect, we do so thinking of what they can do to to lead us to what we want to achieve…”

The struggle I am talking about, has many aspects. It’s a political struggle, a struggle for our unity, for our development, and you know the rest…” referring to a stand against divisiveness along ethnic lines.

This nation of ours, with its tragic, history, a history that took the lives of our loved ones…that out of that has come decent people like you is no surprise, but let’s stay that way always, and make that what defines Rwanda…”

For that to be permanent, Rwandans have to choose it…We were blessed there was RPF in changing our history…Let’s build on what we have achieved, and the rest will come…”

He concluded where he began, where he always begins, the unity of Rwandans, and how it is so assailed by outsiders who seem obsessed with taking Rwanda back into ethnic division. To the obvious amusement of the crowd, he related how he himself was asked about his ethnicity.

You know most of them authoritatively speak of us without even who we are…they ask these meaningless questions with contempt…You should always show them the same contempt when they do. Live with them, value and respect them, but only when they too respect and value you.”

There was an occasion, when with a lot of contempt, one of them pointed at me…let me tell you how he asked me, which shows how idiotic it was…he asked me, ‘what are you? Are you Tutu or Hutsi’? He didn’t even know what he was asking, but…of course, he wanted to know whether I was a Tutsi or Hutu. I told him that as a Rwandan, I was all of that, ‘Tutu, Hutsi’ and much more he didn’t know.”

So, let us be Rwandans, do what is wholesome, and put the rest aside, and resolve it there…continue that, build our unity, build our democracy, to choose what’s best for us, and the rest will be to skate to development.”

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