Editorial: The Diaspora is a province in itself, should it get more?

There is always that feeling-good moment whenever one gives back to the less fortunate to see the glimmer of happiness in the receiver’s eyes. That is exactly what a group of Rwandans living in Germany must have felt when they cut the tape to open a new school they built in the Northern Province.

While it was a modest contribution in comparison with other schools, it was a noble initiative driven by the love of one’s country. But the new block of classes and toilets is a relief from an eyesore; the derelict classrooms next to them, built in 1963 and never saw any maintenance since then.

This is the season when many in the Diaspora return home to roost, to reunite with family and friends. While many might not leave behind something as physical as the school, they play an important role in the country’s economy.

Last year, the Diaspora sent to Rwanda about $200 million, about half of what tourism brought in. It is an important contribution towards the country’s goal towards weaning itself off foreign aid.

Unlike many African countries, many Rwandans were forced into the Diaspora by political circumstances, not straightforward immigration. But even if many are political exiles who have no place in their hearts for this country, and would do all they could to bring it down, they inadvertently prop it up by the remittances they send back to their relatives. So their perceived role of political opponents is all in vain.

But to get back to the good deeds such as the one by the German Diaspora; even though the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a directorate of Rwandan Communities Abroad (RCA) which coordinates, the Diaspora, there is a need to do more as has been suggested before, having a seat in parliament. That is good food for thought.

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