I don’t think I could ever work in the Rwanda’s public sector (at least in the current one) because the people who work there don’t just work, they WORK. Yes, capital letters. Maybe you have a few friends who work there – you know those people you call on a Saturday afternoon, and they’re like – I’m at the office. No, they’re not downloading movies – well, maybe that too, I don’t know – they’re printing out programs for an event that evening or typing up a report on an event last evening or reviewing a report on… well, you get the idea. It is a full-time (and by that I mean, 24 hours a day) job. They work and work and work… evenings, weekends, public holidays (seriously people, they’re public holidays!). I don’t know if it’s the same gig in other governments around the world, but round here, it’s just non-stop. Lots of guts, and little glory – unless you’re at at certain level e.g. a Minister or P.S. – this still requires lots of guts, but at least you get a front row seat at those Serena and Amahoro Stadium events.
I know, I know. In the private sector, we work, too – some of us even WORK – but the motivation is different. We’re usually in it for the loot, the dough, the cheese – you know what I’m saying doncha? The money, baby! (Sorry about the 20s New York ganster accent – not sure where that came from). Yes, there is passion too – but if you’re not also in it to make the money, then you’re probably working in the civil sector.
No – public servants are by and large – as far as I can tell – motivated by a love for their country. They believe that what they are contributing to, with all those extra hours is, a better future for all of us.
I love my country, too… but I also love being able to take a trip to the UK to see my sister without having to request leave (holla if your self-employed!).
Interestingly, during that trip to the UK, I found myself being turned into a Rwandan politician… or a spokesperson for a our government… or an unofficial unappointed diplomat… well, something like that anyway. Man, people really want to know what’s going on here in the land of a thousand hills. Apparently Rwanda’s been getting a lot of press – negative and positive (but mostly negative) – and I occasionally, while hanging out with friends, I found myself with an invisible microphone in my face being asked to give a comment on behalf of the Rwandan people.
It was interesting because, I’m one of those people that doesn’t really watch the news or keep up with local and/or world politics, so sometimes it was tough trying to remember dates and figures… but it really wasn’t too important in most conversations. What almost everyone wanted to know was, if I regretted moving back to Rwanda. I told them truthfully, I did not. Yes, I still wanted to travel – experience other countries, cultures, climates, etc – but at least now, I finally had a base. A place to come home, too. No regrets about that.
Other friends, interested in visiting or working in Rwanda at some point in the near future, wanted to know about income levels, the weather, the cost of renting an apartment, etc. This was easy to talk about – they were basically asking me what it’s like to be new in Rwanda so, yeah, I’m quite an expert on that.
A few (especially the ones with African roots) wanted to know about President Kagame – is he really different from the stereotype of Africa’s leaders? I told them I thought so. Some would respond by telling me how they had believed the same of their president at one point only to be bitterly disappointed. They eventually agreed would wait until 2017 before making early judgements.
One thing I was reminded of during this trip, was that the cynicism held about Africa isn’t just held by ‘foreigners’ – but by Africans who have been hurt by past experiences. I also discovered that, in the UK at least, all eyes are on Rwanda – unlike when I first left when hardly anyone seemed to have ever heard of it before, leave alone know where it was.
You know, I think the one job I’d take in government would be at a foreign embassy. It was pretty cool representing my country – especially when I would tell someone something they didn’t know about Rwanda and you would see their expression, and hopefully their overall picture of the country, change. So if there are any Banyarwanda official and appointed diplomats out there looking for a techie aide, please consider this my cover letter!