he recent liberation day celebration was a good time to reflect on where Rwanda came from and where we are heading as a nation. During talks that are organized around this monumental day, it is often said how the RPA soldiers were young when they liberated this country.
However, it seems the people who take note of this is the older generation instead of the young generation, whom the message is often-times is directed at.
As we celebrate, it is only right that we look at what liberation means to us the young people.
The segment of the population of the country was born after liberation or was young at the time.
After the four-year liberation journey, the leadership from scratch embarked on a long and hard journey of restoring the nation’s peace and development, and after quarter-century, there is much to show for it, but the journey is still long.
Majority of us have grown with this journey witnessing development to which we were mostly beneficiaries instead of actors due to age.
It is therefore time to play our role by building on the achievements to take the journey further. But are we ready for this?
Globally, the debate has for some time been on the readiness and will of youth to participate in politics versus the will of governments to include youth in politics and decision making processes.
In Rwanda, there has been progress and demonstration of political will to include the youth in decision-making processes, but are we as the youth ready to take on this mantle?
For elaboration, last month the Minister of Finance read the 2020/2021 budget to parliament.
For any country, the budget is the basis on which the development projects of the nation operates. As a youth active on different social media platforms, I tasked myself to check what the youths think on the budget and its allocation.
I was not surprised to find that this particular topic never came up in any of the WhatsApp/Facebook groups I participate in, while on Twitter only a few journalists were having a conversation around this critical subject.
You can say I am in the wrong social media groups or follow the wrong people but I challenge you, as a youth, to think if you participated in such a discussion or people in your circle did.
Recently, our President elaborated how accountability is key to sustainability and development, he made it clear that the young generation have to bear that in mind and make it a core value.
With the above example, you can wonder how the youth perceive accountability if they show no interest in following not only how the government spends but also how their taxes are appropriated.
That example shows the will and level of youth participation in politics and decision making processes, there can be more examples on that but my intention is to stress that since it is for certain that youths will inherit the responsibility to drive our nation forward, how ready and willing are they to take on the responsibility?
President Paul Kagame has always advised the youth not to just enjoy the comfort of the good life that has been given to them but to also play their part in building the nation. It is the time for youth to heed his call.
Much can be said on willingness and readiness of the youth but there is also much to say on other enabling factors like the government will to include youths in decision making processes.
The number of youth in the government has increased over the years but still it is not a cause for celebration; the narrative that we have younger people in the government should hopefully be succeeded by the narrative that we have youths in the government.
In the parliament, two special seats are allocated to the youth in the chamber of deputies and this can be debated if the two seats are enough or not. The worrying part is that the political parties in the parliament have never reserved any special seats in the seats they win from elections for the youths who they count on when it is time to vote.
The encouragement and inclusion of the youth has to start within the political parties, this way it will even branch further.
It can be argued that the non-inclusion of the youth in decision making processes for a long time is one of the reasons they shy away from politics, but the continued efforts by the government of Rwanda to change this and include youths has been paying off and we can only ask for more efforts and inclusion.
In conclusion, the current young generation has inherited a big responsibility to safeguard and build on the great achievements by the liberation heroes. The people who liberated this country were young in age and they proved that where there is will and conviction there is success; it is up to the youths to understand the task they have and own it.
As we celebrate the liberation and the achievements Rwanda has achieved over the past 26 years, let us look forward to how we can preserve the pace of our development and keep going forward. To me, this is the greatest gift we can ever give to the brave men and women who liberated this country and are still tirelessly building it.
President Kagame once said that “we should not spend much time appreciating what we have achieved but instead look at what needs to be fixed and fix them”. There are a number of areas where youths are playing key roles in building the nation and I commend the government of Rwanda for supporting youth initiatives in different sectors.