Rwanda: from genocide killing field to C'wealth host

APA-Kigali (Rwanda)

As some of the world's leaders converged on Kigali on Monday, questions are being asked about how Rwanda was able to emerge from a country battered by genocide to a fast-developing nation hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit (CHOGM).

Held every two years in a member country, CHOGM brings together mainly former British colonies although in recent decades a few countries like Rwanda and Mozambique with no colonial ties to Britain in the past have jumped on board.

Originally scheduled for Kigali in 2020, CHOGM was postponed to 2022 thanks to the outbreak of Covid-19 at the end of 2019.

It is the first CHOGM of the post-Covid era but ever since Rwanda was unveiled as its next host, the country has been put under the spotlight for reasons such as one of Africa's most impressive economies of the past 15 years.

This all the more remarkable given Rwanda's recent history as a country almost completely flattened by genocide in which some 800, 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred in a 100-day pogrom in 1994.

 "This progressive running streak of the last 20 years is not hard to miss and compares impressively with strides made by other African countries since 1994" said APA's correspondent in Kigali.

Although critics of Rwanda under Paul Kagame are wont to speaking of him critically as the "benevolent dictator much loved in Western capitals", there is something about this small landlocked country of 13 million people straddling East and Central Africa which is making it punch above its weight.

In the aftermath of the genocide, Rwanda's infrastructure lay in ruins, after the destruction and looting while agricultural activities around its cash crops were nonexistent, leading to a huge drop in its GDD.

But by 2015, the economy had witnessed something of a rebound and now its GDP has been estimated at $909.9 in 2022.

In 1994, it was a modest $127.

A strong, visionary leadership under the "likeable dictator" has been praised for Rwanda's emergence from a genocide killing field to a stable progressive country which has won the admiration and confidence of the rest of the world to a point where a summit like CHOGM could take place in Kigali.

The Rwandan capital itself is witnessing something of an infrastructural renaissance in full flight, thanks to a sound environmental management policy which has turned Kigali into the cleanest city in the whole of Africa.

It also has an impressive road network systems linking it to other towns and cities in the country as well as the East African region.

Since 2012, the country's education portfolio has enjoyed something of a rebirth with free education introduced in state schools.

While in 1994, the country's health system was in tatters, with the mortality of under-fives rampant, today thanks to Kagame's Vision 2020, healthcare deliveries have improved survival chances for Rwandans of almost all age brackets.

Funding and managing healthcare in rural Rwanda has meant that life expectancy went up from 55.2 to 64.0 between 2005 and 2013 while mortality in relation to under-5s declined from 106.4 to 52.0 per 1,000 live births during this period.

There is also a lowering of incidences of tuberculosis from 101 to 69 per 100,000 Rwandans.

"If you look around the continent today, you will marvel at Rwanda, and may be forgiven to think that the genocide had happened in another African country", says a non-Rwandan commentator.  

With utmost admiration for the Rwandan spirit many in Africa have come to appreciate how the country was able to rise above the mammoth scale of the devastation caused by the 1994 genocide to write a completely different history.

As CHOGM representatives may witness through the course of the five-day summit, Rwandans have become more purposeful in the country's determination not to be defined by genocide but by the triumph of their indomitable spirit over the darkest chapter of their collective history.

The world may learn from Rwanda that the hand that once set apart and destroyed everything within its reach is the same hand that has made amends, harnessing its energy for lofty goals some of which are being realised.   


React to this article