I recently subscribed to Kigali Life, an internet user group, set up to share experiences and ideas about life in Kigali.
Most of the subscribers are foreigners, who would like to know where to eat, hang out, live, shop and even sell their household items when it is time to go home.
The group is now so popular, and if one is to go by the deals that have been struck on this forum, there is no doubt that online marketing is big in Rwanda.
What really struck me, though, was a question that was posted, yesterday, from someone who is outside the country: “Hi everyone, Newspapers around the world are expressing concerns about safety in Rwanda prior to the elections in two weeks.
I would prefer getting your views on that as some of the newspapers are biased and probably have no idea of the situation. You guys live there (in Rwanda) and can give unbiased views.”
In less than 30 minutes, she got a response which was equally interesting; “The current President is highly capable in regard to security issues. Personally, I would not expect any trouble. The foreign press, especially CNN and Sky news in the UK have a habit of blowing things out of proportion. Rwanda is of particular interest to the press due to 1994 (Genocide against the Tutsi). I personally feel much safer here than in the UK (London).”
The correspondence presents a perfect example of how people in Rwandan and those abroad have divergent views about the country. Some sections of the media have continuously attempted to paint the picture that all hell has broken loose in the country, yet people who visit or live in Rwanda suggest otherwise. Who should we then listen to and believe?
When the RPF kicked-off its Presidential Campaign on Tuesday afternoon, it made a very strong statement to not only its rivals for the August 9, polls but also anyone who questions Kagame’s popularity.
Looking at the number of RPF supporters who filled , to capacity, the stadium, hours before the event even started, on one hand, shows how much time and resources the party is putting into the Presidential race, and indeed how much the majority of the people admire their president.
Next, it was Rulindo and Gekenke, then Burera and Musanze and yesterday, Nyabihu and Rubavu. In each of the districts, the crowds seem to grow bigger and bigger.
On October 18, 2008, two weeks before the US general elections in 2008, Barack Obama spoke before a crowd in St Louis, Missouri, his campaign said totaled 100, 000, setting a new U.S. record for his presidential bid.
Two weeks before Rwanda’s general elections, more than 130,000 Rwandans from Burera district only, turned up to listen to kagame. The green, in the hills and valleys, that Rwanda is known for, at that moment, was not visible. All one could see was red and blue- the RPF colours.
Comparing the two may be farfetched, but considering that Rwanda, with a population of 11 million (US population is close to 300 million), can have such a number of people from only one district rallying behind Kagame, is definitely something to write home about.
And, it’s not just the numbers. The ambiance is electrifying. The rallies have all the trappings of a huge concert.
The passion and persistence of the crowds that turn out to hear and see Kagame, despite having been President for the last seven years, speaks volumes. The adrenalin rush you get from the tens of thousands of excited supporters in the crowd is infectious
The connection the people have with the RPF candidate is rare. When he talks about what he wants to achieve, they all know he is not just talking. They believe him, not only for his remarkable record of delivering, but his admirable vision for the country and its people.
It’s more than just charisma; Kagame represents something indefinable that has the Rwandan people excited. The rest of the world should listen to them.