Due to the tragic events in 1994, many Rwandans were forced to flee to different countries. Most of them flooded neighboring countries like Tanzania, DRC, Uganda and Burundi. Others were already outside Rwanda for related reasons.
It is unfortunate that some of these people never got the chance to see Rwanda rebuild itself during the aftermath of that tragedy. Rwanda has set itself apart from other developing nations intelligently and efficiently. It is making the most of other nations’ investments and creating the building blocks of success in agriculture, social services, entrepreneurship, and basic infrastructure.
This has given refugees and others the confidence to return home. But after all those years in exile, what culture, language or lifestyle defines them now and how does it change the life of other Rwandans today?
Speaking to The New Times, the Minister of Youth, Jean Philbert Nsengimana said, “The culture, language and lifestyle of people in Rwanda today and that of 20 years ago is so different. The key factor is the change brought by refugees from different countries and more so the youth.”
They came back with different cultures and that is what was instilled and blended into our own actual culture, especially the language. The change in language affects culture as well. Rwanda’s culture today is what I call mixed.”
In universities, a lot of groups were formed based on the country they came from. And, with time, these groups united to give Rwanda the homogenous culture it has today.
In an interview with The New Times, Jean Paul Samputu said that the culture and life style of the Rwandan people has greatly changed. “Today, English is widely spoken which wasn’t the case before and this is because of the influence of the people who returned from abroad.”
“And it’s not just culture and language but social life as well. People start music booking agencies to fly local artistes to perform overseas. Others claim they do something because they learnt it in America or Europe where they stayed for years,” said Samputu.
Much as our lifestyle, language and culture have greatly changed, the economy has been boosted.
These people came back with brilliant business ideas with them. Growing up from abroad, has given them a lot of exposure and that is what is being introduced to us. Leonilla Mukunzi, the proprietor of African Villa said, “Many ideas brought from abroad are loved by people. In business, it’s important to introduce new things and all this has been made possible by the return of these people. Today, our economy is growing at a fast rate due to this co-operation.”
Gilbert Mutimura, a university student said, “At the time of my return, there were different lifestyles around. You could easily tell a Rwandan who hadn’t left the country by their behaviour. But the number of people coming back home grew and we started blending in. Today, we behave more or less the same as they do.”