Nyamagabe District has pulled it off again!
After beating off all the other districts for the second year running as the best performing district in the country, it was evident that its achievements were not a fluke.
The district was part of the former Gikongoro prefecture which has a chequered history.
For many decades under the past regimes, the area was the most backward and the residents also believed so and silently surrendered to their fate.
There was this myth that nothing could grow in the “arid” land apart from a local species of yam known as “Impombo”, yet they were never told that they were sitting on a gold mine; all they needed were appropriate tools to get it out of the ground
A couple of decades ago, Gikongoro was hit by many years of famine that cost scores of lives and forced many to emigrate.
The area was only saved from being erased from the map of Rwanda by stories of apparitions of the Mother of God at Kibeho which attracted tens of thousands of Catholic pilgrims with the hope that if they caught a glimpse of the Virgin Mary, they would go to paradise.
Little did they know that they were already there; if only they could open their eyes.
The success of Nyamagabe is like a fairytale; the rags-to-riches Cinderella like story, and is a living testimony that people should not despair but reach into themselves for strength.
When the President visited a small village in the district, Kagano Model village, he could not hold back his admiration for what the villagers had achieved in such a short time.
Through the land consolidation programme, the villagers are now producing over 140 tonnes of wheat per year from the “arid” soil, they are raising livestock ,have access to clean water and have embraced hygiene and they are healthy.
What 20th century Nyamagabe (or Gikongoro for that matter) needed were leaders with a mindset and sound policies geared towards development and not those with vitriolic speeches that would trigger Genocides.
As the President said, Nyamagabe —and Kagano in particular — should set the pace for all districts in regard to socio-economic development.
Others need to catch up, otherwise they will be the ones remaining holding “Impombo” in their hands.