A few people have been lucky enough to lay their hands on the book KAGAME: Conversations with the president of Rwanda. It’s just off the press, released late last year to be precise. I am one of the lucky Kenyans and this is the book I am devouring every free minutes I get. It is a good read. And NO, this is not a book review, and neither is it a marketing strategy; I just feel compelled to share here the little I have learnt from the book.
I want us to reflect on the contents of this book because every man is a leader in his own right and the book offers invaluable insights on leadership. We are in charge of our lives to begin with; then we are in charge of a family, the village “chama” or council of elders. As I read the book, I kept asking myself, “What if every man everywhere conducted his life as if he was the president of Rwanda? Wouldn’t the world be a better place to live in?”
Right in the preface, Kagame is quoted saying: “I am not a saint … I am not endeavouring to be a saint, because in that case I would spend my time thinking about being saintly and not accomplish anything that would benefit the people I am here to serve, or even myself.”
This is a man dedicated to his calling. He does not worry about the reward in the here and now or in the hereafter. He wants to serve his people, to do things that would benefit the people of Rwanda. If doing such things makes one a saint, well and good, but that is not going to be his preoccupation.
My brother, think how our society would be if each one of us woke up every day and just did what we ought to do? You are a father and husband, what if you woke up every day thinking about how to make life better for your family? No pretense, no trying to be saintly, just performing your duties as the head of the house. You provide for their food; you secure their abode and meet their needs. Notice, I don’t mention wants, that is another thing altogether. Then you give your wife the respect she deserves. You honour her; you protect her and remain faithful to her like a soldier to his platoon. And then be a father to your children.
The book describes Kagame as a man “driven by a permanent sense of urgency and vigilance. He sleeps but five hours a night, works 15 hours a day, reads economic treatises, never drinks alcohol and hates losing a tennis match – one of his few leisure activities.” The president knows that he is not going to last forever; his time is limited and so he does not waste it by engaging in trivialities. He is Spartan in his management of time and life; he does what he must do within the limited time he has. That is how he has transformed Rwanda into an African example of good governance and economic growth. And he has also found time for his private life with his wife and children.
Mr Kagame believes that the only way to ensure there is no return to the genocide of 1994 is to grow the economy and ensure an equitable society where everyone has their fair share. And so he reads widely on how to get there. He does not just read for the sake of it – his time is limited and so he reads only what helps his cause.
Your time is limited too brother. You are alive and kicking in 2016 but many aren’t. Are you going to make your life any better than those who didn’t make it? Are you going to make this year count? What about adopting the Kagame sense of urgency. Knowing that you are here for a season and determine the season will be spent on a reason! What about shunning engagements that take you off your reason for being, which rob you of just one minute that you would have spent doing what you were born to do?
That is my wish for you in 2016 and I hope one day it shall be said of you: “He came, he saw, he conquered.”
Published in January 2015