By David Himbara
The two women lived in different times. One passed away on October 24, 2005. The other is in her prime. They lived in different countries. One lived in America. The other lives in Rwanda. But they both acted in the same way when they reached a tipping point – they got “tired of giving in.”
Meet Rosa Parks and Diane Rwigara.
In December 1955, Parks refused to obey racist laws in America. Her defiance became an important catalyst of the Civil Rights Movement. Parks soon became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation in her country – she simply “got tired of giving in” to injustice and repression.
What gave Parks the courage to stand up for her rights when most feared the brute force of the state? This is how Parks explained it:
“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.”
Fast forward to February 2017. A young Rwandan woman named Diane Rwigara, too, got tired of giving in to a repressive state of her country, Rwanda. While most Rwandans hide under their beds rather than confront the Rwanda regime that has beaten them into submission, Rwigara stood up and said no. And she said no to several characteristics of the repressive regime in Rwanda including:
- No to the hunger that is ravaging Rwanda while the country’s rulers live like kings.
- No to mysterious disappearances of innocent Rwandans whose crime is to exercise their basic human rights.
- No to wealth concentrated in a tiny ruling elite while the rest live in dire poverty and unemployment, especially the youth.
- No to the so-called “development” of buildings designed to impress visitors while children go hungry.
- No to the arrogance of the powerful that are unaccountable to the people who pay them salaries – taxpayers.
- No to crony capitalism that is not based on real private sector but the grabbing of other people’s businesses and properties.
Diane Rwigara, by “getting tired of giving in” you are the Rosa Parks of Rwanda. May your act of defiance lead to the same results as that of Rosa Parks. May your defiance become an important catalyst for freedom from dictatorship. May you become an icon of resistance to injustice in Rwanda.