Rwanda’s advertising deal with famous English football club, Arsenal FC, raked up a lot of unnecessary noise. Most opponents of the deal were either ill-informed, could not understand how a “poor” country could pull it off or it was just a matter of sour grapes.
The patronising tone from some Dutch lawmakers and English tabloids - that aid money from their countries was the source of the “Visit Rwanda” campaign - was nothing more than an insult that was nonchalantly ignored. Even though it was none of their business, the discord went on unabated.
Now the UK Department for International Development (DfID) has categorically refuted all those claims supported by facts and figures that hopefully will bring the Rwanda – Arsenal misplaced debate to a halt once and for all.
Everyone – even the sour grapes – admits that the Arsenal deal was a stroke of magic. The tourism industry last year brought in over $ 400 million which is set to double in the next 5-6 years largely through such aggressive marketing, however unconventional or unexpected.
Neither does Rwanda conduct its business according to someone else’s template nor does it do so to please others. It does it in the interests of the Rwandan people. And as the detractors continue to throw the spoke in the country’s development wheel, it trudges on, confident that it is on the right path.
In fact, the latest UNDO Human Development Index named Rwanda as the most improved country in the last 25 years, followed by China. Those accomplishments did not ride on the back of complacency but on audacious and sometimes unconventional decisions.
The noise makers will always be there, but a barking dog running after a caravan will not make it stop.