Please accept this letter of gratitude for sharing your country with me. I am a Ghanaian currently living in Rwanda. My journey from Ghana started on the 10th of January 2018, when I made the decision to study in your beloved country. Little did I know that that decision would forever change my perception about Africa. Before I talk about my reason for writing this letter, please allow me to share some of my experiences in Rwanda so far.
Growing up, my studies in geography had taught me that Rwanda was a tiny country in the eastern part of Africa that shared its northern border with Uganda, its eastern border with Tanzania, its southern border with Burundi and its western border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Also, one could not help but know that Rwanda had been torn apart by genocide in 1994. Sadly, this was all that I knew about Rwanda. My ignorance about modern Rwanda was appalling.
When I heard about my future school from a friend, I knew I had to educate myself about Rwanda. So, in the Google search engine, I typed “Facts about Rwanda.” And with my eyes literally popping out of their sockets, I was startled by the testimonies of modern Rwanda that flooded the internet. My confusion was overwhelming. What happened to the Rwanda that was torn apart by genocide? This question needed an urgent answer.
After two weeks of submitting my application, I received an email from the Institute of Legal Practice and Development (ILPD), inviting me to pursue my Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice. This was the beginning of my journey to, and my love affair with, Rwanda, I immediately emailed my acceptance and started my preparations. On the day of my journey, I was extremely excited about my quest to study and also find answers to my question that I arrived at the airport 3 hours early. When the time came for boarding, I grabbed my backpack and raced towards my seat. Upon arrival at the Kigali International Airport, the first thing I noticed was the smart immigration officers, attentive and clearly not ready to compromise. A passenger in the queue had the plastic around her luggage removed, reminding me of what I had read about Rwanda being the first country in the world to ban plastic bags. “Wow!!!” I thought, “This is a serious country.”
The journey from the airport to my school was approximately two hours. Despite my exhaustion, I refused to doze; I didn’t want to miss a single thing. Indeed, Rwanda is a land of a thousand hills. Everywhere was green and the landscape, awesome. After two hours of beautiful scenery, I finally arrived at my destination. After, settling in, I called my family and assured them that I had arrived safely. I then went out to explore my surroundings and, to my amazement, I heard some students speaking Twi.
Twi is one of the main, and most widely spoken, local languages in Ghana. My curiosity piqued, I was eager to join their conversation. And, once I did, I realised we had all traveled here with the same dream. Our main goal, of course, was to further our education, but we were also here to find out how Rwandans did it. The story behind their success. These were some of the questions on the lips of the many Ghanaians I met at Institute of Legal Practice and Development. During my very short stay in Rwanda, I came to understand why it has gained the accolade of “the cleanest country in Africa.” Having had the opportunity to participate in the national community service (Umuganda), which takes place the last Saturday of every month. I realised how much people can achieve when they work together with one mind and one heart. In our classes, we were taught that it is possible to register a business in Rwanda in six hours, provided you have satisfied all the requirements. Also, that registering land in Rwanda can be done in the shortest possible time. Rwanda is one of the very few countries which can boast of proven results from their fight against corruption.
Dear Reader, my reason for writing this letter today is simply to ask: how Rwandans recovered from the ruins of genocide to achieve this level of growth? Ghana, was the first African nation to gain independence from its colonisers. Yet, since its independence in 1957, corruption has been a fact of life. Although, our current president is doing his best, as did his predecessors, to fight this canker, it is time for a new approach. Therefore Rwanda, we need your strategy to fight it the right way. Long live Rwanda! Long live Ghana! Long live Africa!