There is a saying that‘The tree is in the roots as the fruit is in the seeds’. This makes the prerequisite for effective democratisation and sustainable development for any country.
All African countries but Ethiopia have been subject to colonisation.
That exception does not make Ethiopia immune from bad effects of colonialism, as the West has always considered Africa as a bloc, and sometimes combining it with the Caribbean and Pacific.
The ACP –Africa, Caribbean and Pacific is a bloc created in the aftermath of independence, only to keep all those countries politically and economically handcuffed in a single basket.
Unfortunately, most of African intellectuals and leaders are yet to question the essence of the block, especially when neither of the nationals know where their partners or “allies” are located.
The reason is simple; the education system has never been genuine to Africans to allow critical thinking and address Africans’ real problems; how to liberate ourselves from the “mental slavery”.
In a discussion with fellow countrymen, we had a flashback on how the journey to transformation in Rwanda started from substantial matters, affecting fundamental human rights, which many Rwandans would hardly identify as such.
The Rwandan culture and society has remained patriarchal for centuries and more decades.
That developed a mindset whereby many would consider women as second class citizens.
Women were mostly denied the right to formal education and property to the benefit of their brothers.
When a family had produced only women, it would be considered as without next-of-kin. The family’s property would be inherited by outsider males, and when a wife would become a widow, she would easily be chased out of her home and belongings without any right to claim them back.
Incidentally, women were included among husbands’ removable “assets”.
Rwandans had to wait until the RPF-Inkotanyi stopped the genocide against the Tutsi and came into power for women to get the right to succession, property and self-determination.
Rwanda had remained mainly a subsistence agriculture based economy, where about 90 per cent of the population were farmers, depending on agriculture for their subsistence.
In actual terms, Rwandans had no right to land, which constituted their main economic capital.
Any Government authority would decide on the fate of the citizen’s land, and the later had only to respect the “authority’s” decision. And there came the concept of “umutegetsi”; the person who only issued orders to be enforced without nor citizen’s voice, participation nor accountability.
People may agree with me or not, but the last two decades have been transformational for all Rwandans, and the Government has been relinquishing many of its prerogative powers to the benefit of the citizens.
In Rwanda, land belonged to the Government not until the land reforms and the enactment of the Law in 2005, paving the way to land registration.
The young generation shall only find themselves owning land and houses, with their land lease title, and yet they shall know how far that came. It required a lot of sacrifice.
Today, where the Government needs land, it needs to buy it from the owner, the citizen, through the expropriation process. Previously; it would expropriate only the property and take the land for free.
Things have changed; citizens have the rights over their Government, especially in substantial matters; land.
The journey of transformation is a process, a citizen centred process. It is not about politics, especially cheap politics.
Rwandans own their land, and the Government only leases its use as a nation’s natural resource which needs to be properly managed and used for the present and future generations.
Ill-informed politicians and other persons have been distorting the reality by claiming that Rwandans don’t own land. That is totally untrue. Not only Rwandans, but everyone can own land in Rwanda. What is required is to respect the rules and regulations for land use and management.
The above facts, the reform in succession and liberalities as well as land use and management shall remain on record.
Rwanda’s transformation is not speculative; it is factual, substantial and citizen-centred.
Indeed the struggle for liberation continues. It is time to open our minds, critically look into the legacy of colonialism, and move forward for Africans’ good. Together, we can do better. Time is now.
The author is a political analyst, member of the Pan African Movement, Rwanda Chapter.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.