This is one year that will live in memory for quite a long time, for me at least. It had barely begun when Rwanda was thrust in the news because of suspected terrorist Victoire Ingabire’s arrival, on 11 January, after 16 years of self-imposed exile in the Netherlands.
In a striking display of the genocide Ideology that informs her view of Rwanda, she chose to travel straight from Kigali International Airport to the Gisozi Genocide Memorial and spout theories of double genocide. Uproar ensured and, rightly, the legal system put her to task to explain exactly what she meant.
I had assumed that that would be the end of the controversy and the rest of the year would get better but I was sadly mistaken. There was the shooting death of Jean Leopold Rugambage on the 25th June and the killing of Andre Kagwa Rwisereka on the 14th July.
For us in the media fraternity the death of the journalist was a hard blow. But what was harder to fathom was the fact that other people, who I don’t believe care on iota about us, jumped on some kind of strange bandwagon to really give our country a rollicking. Reporters Without Borders could not believe their luck, and got down to business, ranking Rwanda lower than Somalia.
That ranking still bewildering; Somalia is home base for the Al-Shabaab militia and its strict interpretation of Sharia law, how in the heavens can Rwanda, with its numerous radio stations and newspapers, rank lower than it? But that was the kind of headlines that Rwanda was making. But after that dark period, things got a whole lot better.
First of all, Rwanda had its second every proper presidential election and with four candidates Rwandans had a wider choice to choose from. But they overwhelmingly voted RPF candidate, Paul Kagame. While some of Rwanda’s bugbears attempted to soil the President’s mandate, voter turnout of more than 90 percent was not to be scoffed at. The numbers spoke for themselves.
On the African continent, the number one story had to be the World Cup that South Africa so successfully organised. Between the ecstasy of the Opening Ceremony that saw Desmond Tutu dancing like a spring chicken and the agony of Asamoah Gyan’s missed penalty kick in the last seconds of the quarter-finals, the enduring image of the Cup was the omnipresent drone of the thousands of vuvuzelas and the fans partying in a safe, secure South Africa.
Back in Rwanda the year has come to an end with a successful 8th annual National Dialogue which saw the Rwandan Diaspora really come to the fore.
The best part of the two day proceedings was seeing the looks of amazement that people, who have not been to the country in the last 16 years had on their faces, as they beheld the new Rwanda and talked to the people. Everything that they thought was true in exile was found to be false.
If you had forgotten, we are halfway to 2020 and I believe that next year will be pivotal. I believe that 2011 will be the year that Rwanda really forges ahead.
The global economic crisis is becoming a thing of the past, albeit slowly, and the GDP growth of only 5 percent in 2009 (down from 11 percent the previous year) will surely see a jump. As the benefits of joining the East African Common Market starts impacting our pockets, the people in our tax offices will be happy campers. For football lovers, 2011 will be the year that Kigali hosts the Africa Under-17 championship and I’m pretty sure that with fervent home support, the ‘Baby Wasps’ will do well.
This is the last time you’ll hear from me this year and I wish you and yours a wonderful New Year. Be blessed.