There’s something fundamentally flawed in a mindset of those in power, in Rwanda, to think that foreigners – foreign mercenary expertise – can and will speak and advocate for Rwanda and its interests better than Rwandans; wherever they are. You can hire as many extortionate foreign mercenary experts on this or that aspect, such as foreign PR agencies and other so-called communications ‘experts‘ to do a PR campaign on your behalf; but the reality is that the best spokespeople for any country, are essentially and always its people.
Why? This is as obvious and straightforward as black and white; it’s a no brainer: because the people – any country’s people – call them ‘nationals/citizens’, have a strong connection, historical and otherwise, to the[ir] country. They mostly have a deeper understanding of it, its sociocultural, economic and political matters than [most] foreigners can possibly claim. It’s in their DNA and the connection is deeper and, without a doubt, genuine and not based on some quid pro quo relationship as that with foreign mercenary ‘experts‘ preferred and hired to speak and advocate for Rwanda – on behalf of Rwanda and Rwandans – especially by those in power.
Rwandans of all persuasions, socially, politically and otherwise, are genuinely concerned and interested in what happens in Rwanda, wherever they are and whatever they may be. They are genuinely concerned and interested in matters of national affairs and governance; because they ultimately have skin in the game. This should be obvious: no foreign mercenary ‘expert‘, however professionally brilliant they really are or pretend to be, can speak and advocate for a country, a people, articulate its issues, people’s lived experiences with passion more than its people. This can’t be emphasised enough!
It is needless to mention that the relationship with Rwanda, between foreign mercenary ‘experts‘, no matter how much they’re paid; and its own people – Rwandans, wherever they are, is incomparably different. When people speak for their country, (from) wherever they are and on whatever the subject; they speak with passion and genuine concern, for obvious reasons. Whereas foreign mercenary ‘experts‘ will speak in relation to how much they’re paid to speak and it’s always devoid of passion.
To underestimate the voice, the capacity and the determination of someone to speak for his/her country; in preference for foreign mercenary expertise; or worse, to underestimate someone’s voice and capacity to express concerns about his/her country, is an act of political immaturity. To think that foreigners have Rwanda’s and the Rwandan people’s (best) interests at heart more than Rwandans; suggests Rwandans are not only incapable of loving themselves but are also incapable of knowing what is and isn’t good for them. In other words, they’re incapable of self-determination.
Similarly, and on that basis, to further think that foreigners can and will develop the country and its economy and not Rwandans; or to attempt, whether through/by policy (mechanism) or otherwise, to develop the national economy for foreigners and not Rwandans – a national economy that does not cater to the capacity of nationals and therefore systematically excludes them in preference for foreign capacity; is simply self-delusion.
The national economy should primarily be in the interests of and thus benefit Rwandans as it might benefit foreign interests. But, more importantly, not to the detriment, or indeed, systematic exclusion of nationals through economic policies that clearly favour foreign interests in form of ‘foreign investment‘ more than they favour nationals with similar if not the same or more investment interests.
A national investment policy that neither recognises nor respects nationals – the national/local business community – as investors in their own (national) economy; but favours, prefers and cajoles ‘foreign investors’ – who are vultures seeking for opportunities – with generous incentive schemes that cannot be equally extended to national/local business people, who are the local investors with more skin in the game in national matters and affairs; is not and cannot be pro-sustainable national development.
It’s national political hypocrisy to pretend to be interested in and therefore spend national resources attracting ‘foreign investors’, handing them national resources for free in form of generous incentive schemes, while not supporting or in some cases, wilfully destroying local investors, i.e, the local business community who have more stake in national life than ‘foreign investors’ whose primary and perhaps, if not almost certainly, only interest is maximisation of profit at the minimum cost possible.
Until we learn to recognise and respect our own people, their effort – our collective contribution; we’re only lying to ourselves to think that we can simply swing our national doors open to foreign investors to bring in their resources and develop our country for us. They’re vultures coming to feast on us and we’re welcoming them with open doors!