Culture’s influence in nation building

Most countries are amazed at how Rwanda is developing at a fast rate after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Doreen Umutesi
Doreen Umutesi

Most countries are amazed at how Rwanda is developing at a fast rate after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Currently, researchers and experts in Rwanda have witnessed development in terms of infrastructure, how effective policies are implemented and above all the superb sanitation of the country, which has left many astounded. 

What some of these people forget is that Rwanda had a rich heritage prior to colonialism. It’s the ‘intruders’ that disorganized Rwanda’s system with their divide and rule policy.

The collective participation of Rwandans in ancient times kept them strong thus making it one of the last parts of Africa to be sought by Europeans during colonial expansion in the late 19th century. 

Successful policies such as contribution performance contracts also known as Imihigo (which were also a motivation to achieve specific targets), the grass-root courts (Gacaca) and the Rwandan traditional community service (Umuganda), where all derived from the ancient traditional systems of our forefathers.

Since their cultural debut, the above practices have been adopted as a way to speed up the progress towards economic development and poverty reduction.

The Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) of Rwanda were implemented by up to 90% percent according to a household survey dubbed EICV3 and the Demographic Health Survey known as DHS4.

EICV3 covers living conditions, income, expenditures, poverty, housing conditions, education and employment, while DHS4 covers household health conditions, especially for women and children, including fertility rates, access to health facilities, anaemia, malaria, nutrition and HIV/AIDS.

Gross Domestic Product per capita increased from US$212 in 2001 to US$540 per capita in 2010.

Culture is what defines people; it develops their way of thinking.

A study commission by Centre for Public Policy at Northumbria University analysed and indentified cultural polices and programmes as contributors to preventing and reducing poverty and social exclusion.

The study stated that ensuring effective access to participation in cultural activities can also be instrumental in helping people over come poverty and social exclusion using building skills like self confidence, self esteem and identity.


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