In Rwanda, we hold in high regard the accomplished individuals who, through tireless effort, have earned degrees from some of the world’s most prestigious institutions.
Many of these individuals promptly return to Rwanda upon graduation, driven by an unyielding determination to contribute to the nation’s reconstruction.
This selfless commitment is a rarity when compared to other African diasporas.
The driving force behind this phenomenon lies in Rwanda’s remarkable tapestry of resurgence, with one underlying theme prevailing: the unwavering significance of talent, character, and integrity in shaping the nation’s success.
Undoubtedly, university degrees are commendable achievements.
However, it is essential to stress that these credentials, while prestigious, are mere pieces of paper without the accompanying virtues of integrity and a profound commitment to public service. President Paul Kagame’s assertion rings true: “Integrity serves as the compass guiding us towards a more robust and prosperous Rwanda.”
The wisdom imparted by the late Zig Ziglar, “Your attitude (character), not your aptitude, will determine your altitude,” echoes the sentiments of John Wooden, who observed that “ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.”
It is imperative to acknowledge that throughout history, even formidable organizations and nations have crumbled despite possessing some of the most brilliant and intelligent individuals within their ranks.
Integrity: The Cornerstone of Our Success
In Rwanda, we now find ourselves on the cusp of a new era, forging uncharted paths and realigning our priorities. Our unwavering commitment to the well-being of every Rwandan, the fortification of social safety nets, and the cultivation of an inclusive society are reaffirmed year after year through national dialogues and government retreats.
In this journey, integrity emerges as the pivotal factor influencing our success. Its influence extends to every facet of our society – from the actions of our government to the ethics upheld by our public service and leaders, regardless of their backgrounds. The trust in our government’s resolute dedication to serving the people’s interests and stewarding the public good is of paramount importance. To strengthen this trust, our public service must unite as ‘Team Rwanda,’ placing the Rwandan people at its core and adhering to the highest standards of integrity.
The true litmus test for any policy is its execution. Policies, regardless of their brilliance, remain empty words on paper if not effectively put into practice. It is essential to meticulously transform policies into well-executed programs and closely monitor their outcomes. When entrusting the implementation of policies to external partners, we must ensure their adherence to our unwavering standards and rigorously oversee their work. The frontline of service delivery plays a pivotal role in cultivating trust. As public expectations soar, our responses must be not only prompt but also characterized by courtesy and accuracy.
Integrity thus forms the bedrock upon which public trust is constructed. It is the cornerstone of our society, guaranteeing equitable competition, empowering public servants to exercise their judgment and knowledge judiciously, and upholding our cherished meritocratic values. However, integrity goes beyond mere processes; it is rooted in values. We must nurture a culture that unequivocally rejects wrongdoing and dishonesty.
Every public servant and the entire machinery of public service must take pride in their unblemished integrity. The responsibility falls squarely on our leaders to create robust systems, impartially enforce regulations, and address deficiencies transparently. They must lead by example, embodying the values of integrity, service, and excellence.
Trust: The Bedrock of Success
Trust serves as the linchpin of our government’s effectiveness. Without trust, our aspirations remain hollow, skepticism lingers, and our policy intentions are perpetually questioned. Trust assumes even greater importance when we are called upon to make difficult or unpopular decisions, such as industry restructuring or public service adjustments. Therefore, we must zealously safeguard our integrity against baseless attacks. Allegations, whether substantiated or unfounded, must be met with a steadfast response – action when warranted and refutation when unjust. Failure to do so puts the integrity and trustworthiness of our public service and government at risk.
Rwanda’s public service is a testament to our nation’s pride. Our civil servants are propelled by an unwavering dedication to our homeland. By international standards, our public service stands out, yet, according to our own exacting standards, we persistently strive for improvement. Rwanda’s destiny hinges not only on intellectual brilliance but also on the unwavering pillars of character and integrity. Our future is being shaped by character, trust, and excellence, underpinned by an enduring commitment to the values that define us.
As Rwanda advances on its journey towards triumph, it is paramount to acknowledge that degrees, while significant, are only a part of the equation. It is character and trust that breathe life into our aspirations. Rwanda’s radiant future is not solely about academic excellence; it is a testament to the enduring strength of character, the unwavering foundation of trust, and the relentless pursuit of excellence.”
Author: Leeban Mugabo is a Rwandan social political commentor.