In 2008, the Government of Rwanda embarked on an exercise to redistribute farmlands and address longstanding land-related disputes and injustices, particularly in Eastern Province.
The move saw powerful individuals in government and military circles lose huge chunks – some of which had been grabbed from locals – and retain a maximum of 25 hectares (after providing a clear development plan), while the rest was redistributed to those that had little to no land.
More than 10 years later, the results speak for themselves. Production has significantly increased, while land wrangles have drastically gone down.
While there are a series of other factors attributable to improvement in state of affairs, there is no denying that whatever progress that has since been made was impossible without fair and equitable distribution of land – a key factor of production.
Yet some selfish and corrupt individuals that had amassed up to hundreds of hectares acquired in land grabs and were forced to surrender part of it took it personal, distorted facts and claimed political persecution.
Some would soon flee the country peddling all manner of falsehoods in the media and speaking ill of the same administration they had served in to whoever cared to hear.
Suddenly, they were being portrayed as victims and human rights and democracy activists. Even those who had serious accountability issues back home.
We continue to see these manipulative tendencies to this day. Some do it to deflect attention away from their past criminal activities, or to win asylum, or to advance political causes.
Just this week, this publication reported about a case involving a Rwandan in Australia who falsely claimed that he was being threatened by the government in Kigali supposedly because he had declined to serve as its agent. He has since been called out by his compatriots in his host country who say the man is motivated by the need to secure asylum for his relatives.
Now, it is an open secret that African immigrants often speak ill of their countries of origin, even going so far as to claim that their lives would be in serious danger if they were to return home, but to constantly manufacture lies against your own country to win whatever favours you are seeking is unacceptable and must be condemned.
Manipulation has existed since time immemorial.
Indeed, opportunists like these continue to thrive and mislead the world because some people are so gullible they take whatever they are told at face value, even as a quick fact check would have easily exposed the lie.
This is unfortunate and we can only urge due diligence whenever such things come up.
To members of the Rwandan Diaspora in Australia, kudos for speaking out against this bad behaviour.