…the world woke up to find that almost one million people had been massacred in Rwanda within a period of 100 days. The genocide was sparked by the death of President Juvenal Habyarimana, a moderate Hutu (with Burundi’s president Cyprien Ntaryamira, and some French nationals), when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport on 6 April 1994, allegedly by the Tutsi minority. President Habyarimana, a Major General, came to power in 1973 through the military and stayed in power for about twenty years – with a new constitution ratified in 1978 and elections held in 1983 and 1988.

Conflicts between the majority Hutu (approximately 85% of the population) and the Tutsi wasn’t anything new, but the Belgian colonizers, who arrived in 1916, stoked the ethnic fire and characteristically knocked heads between the two ethnic groups, who speak basically the same language
and share common cultural traits. Ever since Belgium positioned the minority Tutsi as superior to the majority Hutu, resentments and conflicts escalated and the two ethnic groups were at each other’s throat at the least opportunity. Riots in 1959 saw about 20,000 Tutsi dead with more fleeing to
neighboring countries, especially Uganda. And to add insult to injury, France actively supported the Hutu-led government of Juvénal Habyarimana for its parochial interest against the exiled Tutsi.

In 1962 Rwanda attained political independence from Belgium, and the majority Hutu gained power. Animosity and payback time were visited upon the Tutsi, whom the Belgians had given more educational opportunities than the Hutu. In the 1990s, Tutsi refugees led by Paul Kagame and moderate Hutu in exile in Uganda formed the Rwandan Patriotic Army, the armed wing of the Rwandan Patriotic Front
(RPF), and fought the government Rwandan till Kigali, the capital of Rwanda was captured on July 4,An estimated two million Hutu fled to the present-day Democratic Republic of Congo. The international community stood aloof while Rwanda was caught in hell fire and slaughtered itself.

Today, 25 years later, the Rwandan people led by President Paul Kagame are living in relative peace. With aggressive economic development and attitudinal change by the people of Rwanda, the once war-ravaged country is poised to become a middle-income-status country in the near future. It has made progress on several fronts including health, education, and industrialization. Almost 64% of its parliamentarians are women, the highest in the world. The attitudinal change of the people and adherence to rule of law have made Kigali one of the cleanest cities in Africa.

The old soldier President Kagame had to make some bold decisions that several of his African compatriots would not have the courage to do. He has banned hundreds of mushroom and so-called charismatic churches that his government thought – and rightly so – were fleecing the vulnerable in the country. For a payback of French support of the Hutu extremists, he changed the official language of Rwanda from French to English and made his country a member of the British Commonwealth. And most importantly, Paul Kagame is not afraid to speak his mind, especially to the Western world, journalists, etc.!

Today, a reconciled Rwanda headed by a hitherto jungle fighter has been able to transform itself into a progressive and one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. President Kagame’s vision of making Rwanda, with its 12 million people, the Singapore of Africa is not far-fetched. With all his flaws, President Kagame has proven that without outside interference and intervention most African leaders can lift their people out of the doldrums of economic stagnation just like the Asian Tigers.

Posted by on Jul 20 2019. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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