Some years ago, I wrote about a quiet revolution taking place in Rwanda. I said that we had changed the way we regard ourselves, our capabilities, and our relations with others that was making us do things we had not done before. The results of that shift in mindset can be seen today. The change is visible in the physical development all around us. Some may choose not to see what there is or refuse to admit it is happening, but they cannot undo it. In fact, their stubborn refusal proves its existence. The change is also reflected in other aspects, perhaps less spectacular, but difficult to miss. In the lifestyle, for instance, in the confidence in self and nation. In a strong Rwandan identity evident in the pride in things Rwandan. One of these changes is the Made in Rwanda products. Take one of them, for example, apparel. A distinctly Rwandan style that suits all occasions has been created by the different fashion houses in the country. It has become so popular everyone wants to wear Rwandan-designed clothes. Indeed, fashion has been the most visible of the Made in Rwanda products that it has become synonymous with it. Mention Made in Rwanda and people hear Rwandan designs. They have eclipsed everything else made in Rwanda – motor vehicles assembled here, smart phones, construction materials like pre-fab slabs, marble tiles, and so on. As so often happens with trendy and popular creations, there are many imitations of these products. Now, don’t think this is a bad or negative thing. It is probably meant to spread them to those with modest means but are fashion-conscious so that they can also share in the comfort and elegance and pride of home-made designs. It is not piracy either, but a compliment and vote of confidence, both in the fashions and country Something else new is happening in Kigali and other major towns in the country that signals changing tastes and lifestyle. It is the rise in coffee bars. There is literally one on every street and every block in the city. More are opening up in the suburbs. These are not the usual drab eateries or cafes with plastic chairs and tables, also covered by plastic cloth, whose mere sight kills the mood. They are swanky places with the décor and ambience suited to a savvy clientele, mostly young people. And the coffee is good. You can smell it a mile away. It has not always been like this. There weren’t many such cafes in the first place. Only in the upscale areas could you find them. And so there were hardly any place where one could meet a friend or a business associate and have a conversation in an informal, cosy setting, while also enjoying good coffee. Now they have these new coffee houses where they can sit and sip delicious Rwandan coffee, and talk and think and create, even dream. Perhaps that is where they generate their innovative concepts we are increasingly seeing. Or where they sound them out on colleagues and friends and benefit from an impromptu brainstorming session. Whether the cafes and coffee spur creativity or whether it is done in the quiet of the office or comfort of the home, one thing is certain. There is more creativity and innovation than at any time in Rwanda’s history. The recent Hanga Pitchfest and other similar events, and the many tech start-ups in the past few years are proof of that. And it is not innovation for its own sake or as an academic exercise. The various innovations offer tech solutions to everyday challenges and therefore contribute to raising the quality of life of Rwandans. They are also sound, practical and marketable business propositions. These changes are not limited to business and technological innovations. Similar ones are happening in the creative industry – in the performing arts such as music and dance and theatre, as well as in the fine arts and crafts. Enjoyment and consumption of Rwandan art is on the rise, as is the respect and admiration for artists. The changes are also evident in the way our history is recorded, especially its material aspect. There are now more well-organised and hopefully better-funded museums. Statues and monuments to significant historical moments are being erected across the country. All these happenings are a sign of a sense of permanency and confidence in the nation and its future, both of which were absent in the past. Everything then was always transitory, interim, because of doubts about the correctness and durability of what was being done and uncertainty of what lay ahead. It is obviously difficult to create much when in a demolition mode and in a climate of uncertainty. There is nothing to preserve if all that is being built is laid waste. You cannot sing songs to destruction. The burst in creativity and innovation and the many changes taking place are therefore a repudiation of the ideology of destruction and more importantly, a vote of confidence in the health and direction of the country.