So, Victoire Ingabire was hustled last Wednesday for jumping the queue? It is as it should be. Rwandans, whatever their station, should not allow anybody to claim preferential treatment in the name of being presidential aspirants. And, in the process of protecting their rights, they should not harm anybody. That is what transpired, and the same would have happened had any other person appropriated to themselves the temerity to be superior.
Rwandans have woken up to the truth of the power they possess to protect their rights and value the rights of others. Never again will a Munyarwanda be killed like a “cockroach” and never again will a Munyarwanda err with impunity.
Even then, I agree with Ingabire. Indeed, Rwandans fear to talk. That is why they look on in bewilderment when she is shouting her shrill voice hoarse. Surely, if you are a Munyarwanda who truly knows Rwanda, can you dare talk? In this column, I’ve ever talked about a book I am reading called ‘The World is Flat’. I quoted an example of what it calls ‘outsourcing’, where the job of coaching a student in Michigan, USA, is given to a teacher in Bangalore, India. There are many other examples where accounting jobs, software jobs and even specialised medical jobs are given to, or procured from, competent same-language workers in other countries where labour is cheaper. There is also, for example, ‘offshoring’ where a company like Rolls Royce which was quintessentially British now manufactures parts of its engines in more than 50 countries. And that is quoting only two examples out of myriad others.
The essential thing is, how does an American company pick the services of a call centre in India? Imagine it: you are looking for a specialised-cuisine restaurant in Los Angeles, USA, and you place a call to make enquiries. The sweet voice of a call centre employee, in an impeccable American accent, gives you the directions to the letter. And you, Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger, Governor of California, express your heavily accented gratitude.
Unbeknown to our Governor, that sweet voice that early evening in Los Angeles will be from thousands of kilometres away on the other face of the globe, in the early morning hours. It will be from India! That, for that Indian lady, is talking.Many such people are talking to the developed countries and the developed countries to them. They are from countries as far from each other as Taiwan and Peru, Uruguay and Singapore, South Korea and South Africa.
What they all have in common is that they are connected to the flat-world platform. They have a critical mass of educated technicians and other-area specialists who can speak the language of information technology – English. No, Rwandans cannot dare talk! Talk to whom, through what, in what language? They are too busy to talk, because they are feverishly looking for the tools of making themselves heard by the world. To Rwandans, you will always be dismissed as a talking head as long as you are not joining them in this search. As for leading them, how can anybody aspire to such ambitions when they know not what this search entails? When Rwanda switched and gave emphasis to English rather than French, many complained that it was a hasty decision. However, can it be hasty enough when in other countries their people are already so easily securing global employment?
People who scornfully laugh at the rushed speed with which the country is transforming education to give as many people as possible access to education, especially the young, don’t know the decades Rwandans have lost. Rwandans are in a rush to connect to the global fraternity and that is why they are enthusiastically putting the right infrastructures in place. Thus the energized quest for a top-notch airport, a railway, tarmac roads, a network of broadband, energy provision and all.
This has called for the right governance to spur them to this pursuit. Knowing that Rwanda is not endowed with natural resources, the Rwandan leadership has turned to the energy, entrepreneurship, creativity and intelligence of the Rwandan people. The leadership and people of Rwanda have plunged into this crusade, and the protection of the environment, with the full knowledge that history is on their side. Counties that lack natural resources and yet have made it into the club of emerging economies ascertain to this.If in doubt, look at the countries mentioned above and, to them, add countries like Japan, coastal China and many others. Rwandans are stakeholders in this hope, optimism, enjoyment of freedom and the high prospects for a better future. It is thus that a Rwandan is metamorphosing into Thomas L. Friedman’s person who is “special, specialised, synthesising and adaptable”, prepared and ready to compete on the flat-world platform – and talking with confidence.
When they are beginning to find the tongue to talk and make crooning history as a nation that emerged from the grave and became a giant in a few decades, the least Rwandans need is a leader whose stated mission is to make them history.
Rwandans are quiet and working – they fear talking nonsense!