The “Rwandan miracle" does not exist! Rwanda’s miracle is having an exceptional leader and his team who are behind its achievements.
As the curtain falls on the 27th African Union Summit, it is time to take stock of Rwanda which hosted the prestigious organisation.
It is no longer enough to judge the “country of a Thousand Hills” by mere indices – however flattering – published by various international organisations.
When Rwanda took up the huge challenge, it was well aware that it would come under the spotlight. It would be meticulously dissected by its enemies who, up to this day, still refuse to acknowledge the “miracle” of the country’s transformation is the handiwork visionary leadership and a determined Head of State who has the people’s support.
President Paul Kagame was not just satisfied with having a “vision”; he was at the forefront in taking on the task without giving a second thought to his political opponents.
From being the liberator, one who succeeded where the international community failed, he guided his country towards the success that he is today given credit for.
Rwanda’s “recipe” has proven itself. Any country that really aspires to register similar results should be inspired by Kigali’s policies. Everything they need to achieve their own “miracle” is within their reach.
A few months ago, I followed live the launch of the 22nd commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
President Kagame and his Tanzanian counterpart were accompanied by their respective wives.
When I saw Paul Kagame bow before the memorial, I was seized with emotion, suddenly realising that is here where Rwanda’s page was written in the “great book” of humanity.
The Rwandan head of state not only put an end to the massacres threatened to send the Tutsi towards another “final solution”, he had also succeeded in putting forward forgiveness, reconciliation, peace and a commendable reduction of extreme poverty.
Today he stands out for his exceptional “vision” and has put his country on the world stage by its extraordinary economic development. Now that he has successfully charted his country’s destiny, Kagame now wants the same for Africa.
Assessing the 27th AU Summit
We are not going to dwell on the political, economic and other decisions taken at the summit; we are instead going to take another angle of the organisation of such an important event.
Having successfully hosted the previous World Economic Forum, Rwanda had the credentials to reassure a successful organisation of the Summit.
Even though it would be my first Summit, and from past experience with Rwanda somewhat reassured me, there was always an apprehension that a minor incident could derail an event of such calibre.
The arrival of 35 African Heads of State necessitated exceptional security measures, that must not perturb the organisation of the Summit as well as the reception of Thousands of delegates.
The city was under the watchful eye of various security organs, but in this country, the police and members of the military inspire trust.
One could feel they were in full control of the situation. They showed no sign of restlessness, were extremely polite, gave you directions when necessary and answered with a smile.
On the other hand, one knew that they were not just there for show and there was a limit to what they could tolerate. They gave a sense to reassurance and at the same time were no walkovers.
I had never come across that kind of self control anywhere else.
Once inside the Kigali Convention Centre, the atmosphere was calm.
All venues were properly indicated, and on rare occasions when one lost their way, many protocol officers were at hand to help. Hospitality had definitely been specially worked on, with a lot of warmth and competence.
I was extremely surprised by the quality of the organisation and Rwandans showed what they were capable of, at the same league as any other major international events.
All in all, the daily goings-on in Kigali were not disturbed apart from a few traffic snarl ups near the “centre” because of security.
Kigali Convention Centre is a development tool with a lot of potential.
I was recently approached on the matter of the magnificent complex. It was explained to me that despite the never ending efforts by Rwandan authorities, there was still a lot of poverty in the country.
The person was of the view that the money spent on the project would have served a better purpose if it had been directed towards the poor to ease their suffering.
Admittedly, Kigali Convention Centre is an investment that did not come cheap in the energy and money spent, but it is an instrument of inestimable potential.
I was recently telling a friend that “putting coal (fuel) in the wagon does not make a train move”. President Kagame considers Rwanda’s development as the train that must move to take all sections of society towards progress.
Today, everyone is aware that the Rwandan Head of State spares no efforts in visiting all parts of the world. His efforts require a lot of energy that only travellers would understand.
In order for the train to pull the various wagons towards a better world, he needs tools and financing. As of now, the person entrusted with driving the train is known worldwide for his vision and good governance.
It would be a gross error on my part if I failed to associate the Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo with the gigantic task as she spares no efforts when it comes to representing and promoting her country.
The various reports from the World Bank and other international organisations commend Rwanda for its good governance, growth and fighting poverty, even though it is still prevalent in certain parts of the country.
How more could a miracle turn into reality other than a country “mutilated” by a history of chaos serve as an example to others?
The writer is a Belgian national currently residing in Rwanda.
This is a translated version of the article first published in French, on the author’s blog email@example.com