Louise Mushikiwabo

Louise Mushikiwabo Will of Steel, Heart of Gold

“Visibility does not come from communication but from contributions and solutions that one can bring” This phrase summarizes the pragmatism, passion, devotion and professionalism  that characterizes  the vision, action and approach which constitute the hallmarks of Louise Mushikiwabo’s attitude towards whatever task or responsibility she is given. She made this statement in an interview she granted to Jeune Afrique in March 2020. The looks of Louise Mushikiwabo, current Secretary General of Organization de la Francophonie (OIF) since January 2019, hardly betray the fact that last May 22, she started her journey towards  her sixtieth birthday. She belongs to the group of those commonly known as “the children of independence”, in reference to 1960-1961, the years in which many African countries achieved their independence.
Louise Mushikiwabo
Born in Kigali on May 22, 1961, to a family of nine children, she completed her primary and secondary school,  in Kigali the capital city of Rwanda before proceeding to undergo University studies in the southern town of Butare. She later proceeded to the United States for post graduate studies in Languages and Interpretation, worked in Washington DC for a while before becoming the Director of Communications of the African Development Bank then stationed in Tunisia. Her expertise and savvy attracted the floodlights of destiny to shine on her and she was appointed Minister of Information of Rwanda. In March 2008. She twinned the roles of Minister of Information with that of the Spokesperson of the Government before immediately moving on to that of Foreign Minister in 2009, a position she occupied for ten years before becoming the Secretary General of the OIF.
Louise Mushikiwabo
When Rwanda earned a seat on the Security Council, the world was able to appreciate not only the articulate nature of her interventions in French or English but also the incisive and crisp nature of the arguments she put forth. Many after  that tenure at the Security Council knew who they henceforth had to reckon with each time they dealt with the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs. It will however be remiss of me while acknowledging the talents and prowess of Louise Mushikiwabo, to omit mentioning the fact that without the opportunity given to women by the policies driven by President Kagame, the story might well have been different. Women in Rwanda are present in high profile positions in the country. Education of girls is a priority. There is no doubt that the success story Louise Mushikiwabo must inspire many young Rwandan girls and beyond.
Under the glamour and spotlights of success she has not forgotten the pain and suffering that she went through as her country agonized through the genocide that took place from January to July 1994 in her country. A genocide during which most her family was killed. In the much-acclaimed book, she co-authored with Jack Kramer “Rwanda means the Universe” Louise Mushikiwabo tells the real story of the sad events in which she places everything  in context. In it Mushikiwabo  writes “Yes you could argue that I lose sight of what I won’t look at, and I won’t deny that I have trouble accepting what happened. Yes, people at times ask gingerly whether those events are in fact too much to acknowledge. But I acknowledge them”. When it comes to President Kagame she has a classical answer nurtured out of experience and conviction. “He is the best thing that ever happened to Rwanda after the genocide”.
Listed amongst the most influential women in many publications it is with great admiration and pride that I chose to profile Louise Mushikiwabo this week. An African lady and a true Pan Africanist who has remained modest and simple regardless of the heights she has attained reached. All I can say to her is good luck ”Mushikiwaku” I am told this means “my sister” in Kinyarwanda. Truly a woman with a will of steel and a heart of gold.