And so a few days ago it was the 14th Rwandan Great Migration where, unlike in the Wildebeest Migration to our east, no lions, leopards, crocodiles, myriad other predators lay in wait, ready to feast.
But, like in that eastern migration, mauling, tearing, agonising, soul-searching, umpteen prickly thorns of worry, filled the destination. And the citizenry lay in wait, bated breath, ready to feast!
Call it the National Leadership Retreat, Umwiherero, as officially known here. But, looking at the anxious faces of our top guns in government, parastatal, private sector and civil society as they were being ferried in a long line of buses on their retreat-bound journey, you couldn’t help but equate it to that wildebeest migration.
Because, as is always the case in these retreats, for everyone who has not met their pledged target in the service of the people, the bedrock upon whom this country is founded, mauling aplenty awaits.
Moreover, what’s uniquely interesting here is that, where in other places the private sector and civil society are left to their designs or the latter held in dread by nefarious government officials, in Umwirehero they are looped in to freely mangle any official who has not measured up.
But in their turn, they must lift the veil off their activities, to willingly put them to the test of collective scrutiny. Both have thus nurtured a symbiotic relationship even as government helps lift them out of their infancy.
So, as government officials tear one another down wherever they’ve underperformed or failed to cooperate for effective overall service, so must the private sector and civil society be fixed in crosshairs wherever in their professed responsibilities they’ve not served this nation.
Of course, parochial and narrow selfish ends still rear their ugly heads all round, thus the persistence of missed goals or bungled-up results, but in such a forum as Umushyikirano and in sundry others, those responsible are bared and exposed, to face due censure.
And so as the leaders troop off from their rendezvous in Kigali to go get holed up in whatever nook, mutely and nervously fingering their ‘smart’ technological gadgets, we know they’ll be going to face the probe for a week that would in good time lead to the propulsion of our land to a higher notch.
Our society has come a long way from death and all involved in advancing it must remain on the grill that they don’t slacken. In the words of President Kagame: “Rwanda’s context and ambitions demand extraordinary efforts and tireless follow-through of all leaders.”
It’s that operative phrase, “extraordinary effort and tireless follow-through of all leaders”, that has placed this country on this fast-paced trajectory towards middle-income.
And in the true sense of his word being his bond, his particular personal “extraordinary effort and tireless follow-through” has been active not from 1990, no, but from 1986 and maybe earlier! Yes, from one living, breathing human, for every single minute of every day and night, that vigilance has never known a wink!
Yet expending little energy to indulge it part-time is an insurmountable task for some leaders.
Still, when these heavy weights are holed up, they can’t but together thrash through all the ills that bedevil our society and distil out clear and concrete proposals to plug any likely holes and thrust forward anew.
So, we are here today and, methinks, it’s a good place. Which should be reason to turn this into a migration of chant and cheer, for if that retreat grilling shows anything, it’s that leader and led are together as one big gun.
Think for a minute of the route of our migrants’ convoy. From the growing number of skyscrapers and bright lights of Kigali; along the spotlessly clean and smooth roads with their sidewalks all lined with flowers, with street lights relentlessly springing up to light all way. And it’s a case for all streets and highways.
On the way to Gabiro last time, through the numerous, prim and pretty brick-and-iron/tile town centres all the 136-km way to the Rwanda Defence Force Combat Training Centre, this latter with facilities to equal the best in the region.
From the roads, cast your eyes across the hills and their lush fields (thanks to these rains that have averted a severe drought). See those happy and hygienic iron-roofed homes and their healthy occupants proudly peeking through those fields, where not long ago all was barren land.
Indeed, I wince to think of the route we were going to take just after 1994.
On the seat of our leadership then was a good sort, maybe, yet who rejected all counsel as undermining his authority. I remember him, hoe in hand, here in Kacyiru, as he broke the soil to launch a mudugudu village of rukarakara (mud-and-wattle) shacks as a model for the countrywide campaign.
My failing memory, I forget the fate of those ‘rukarakara’ villages! But God forbid, they’d have been on a cruel collision course with Bye Bye Nyakatsi. Generally, the clash of the Titans!
That aside, consider this. This last time, the whole leadership holed up for a week and no iota of a worry of any security threat, even with neighbours south and west – not excluding ‘across that venue’ (you dig?) – all stoked by a superpower that, in its heydays, thought nothing about tossing to the yonder any of its minions with the lip to turn its nose up at it (forget last Sunday’s feeble provocation from south).
Anyway, even before taking a breath, this CEO Rwanda, Inc. had taken to the globe, where he is on the hunt for investment and all sorts of other cooperation pacts.
Yes, they deserve a place in the annals of this country’s history, those who managed to coax this then-decidedly reluctant would-be-CEO, through wisely invoking his sense of rescuing his people’s destiny.
Nah! Our National Leadership Retreat ain’t anything like the Great Wildebeest Migration.
It’s one of a kind. Courageous big wigs of Rwanda, leader and led together: middle-income, we’ll get there!