In the mid 80’s Colonel Aloys Nsekarije threw a party to celebrate an unusual event in the history of Rwanda: His bank account boasted one billion Rwandan francs in deposits.
In 1994, Rwanda was the scene of killings. People died at an average rate at of 10,000 people per day, and bludgeoned bodies literally lined the streets.
When the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) took over, they found dead people, moribund services, crumbled houses, and decimated hospitals.
Latrines and lakes were stuffed with bodies, and churches were filled by the bodies of thousands of parishioners whose killings were facilitated by their own ministers. There was no government in place.
Now, in 2008, Rwanda shows significant signs of growth. There is an effort to achieve universal primary education. There are functional hospitals and even a plan to provide universal healthcare.
Paved roads run through the country even in the once abandoned [abandoned by former regimes] regions of Kibuye. Rwanda is among the safest, even cleanest, places to walk around in Africa.
There are things, which are very inconceivable like claiming that a country does not have enough room for her citizens. Former regimes blocked any Tutsi who fled torture and Genocide in 59 to come back saying that the country is full of people and that they do not absolutely have where to put others.
Now every Rwandan has a place he calls home. You want to return to your country. Well, the doors are open for you and your innocent family is going to be given back its property even if you, the head of the family, probably committed Genocide.
Before 94, the majority of women were forced to stay in homes. They were obliged not to being involved in any business.
Those who were smart enough found themselves in retail business of selling crates of beers under their children’s beds. They even sold beers to their husbands: Men bought beers from their homes unknowingly.
A woman could order her house cleaner, sent by her husband, to make a u-turn and buy from home. Times have changed and women are no longer stuck in their homes.
Women own many businesses that contribute to the development of Rwanda. A survey conducted by The New Times in Jaguar busses clearly shows that “roughly 78% of people who use Kigali-Kampala route for business are women”.
Women now go to Dubai and elsewhere to do business. They have outstanding companies across the country. A woman owns a new and highly modernized school in Kabuga, called Riviera High School.
Women constitute 48% of the parliament, which has passed many laws in recent years to increase women’s rights.
According to Dr. Paul Farmer, an international health expert with extensive experience in developing countries, Rwanda is “one of the best illustrations of good governance and growth in Africa.”
In many cases, you could not go to secondary school if you were a Tutsi. This means that you had to automatically forget university and international scholarships.
You were forced to go in the schools of incompetent students, CERAI, to learn to cook because you have been deliberately labelled you as such.
Now children receive a universal primary education, and this not because of their ethnicity but because they all must have education; they go to secondary school, this time because of their performance; and they go to universities of their choice, which are now so many in country compared to those before Genocide.
Kigali City, Southern, Eastern, Northern and Western Provinces all have a good number of their own universities. The number of universities across the country has relatively exceeded the one before Genocide and new ones are being formed.
New high schools – such as La Colombière, Green Hills and Riviera – have been formed. Those old people who were only familiar with French are being taught English. There are even lessons of Chinese, German, Russian, Arabic and Spanish in some schools around.
“I’m now following the courses of Spanish from Club Rafiki. I always liked Romance languages before 94 but didn’t have where to learn one,” affirmed Michel Rugambwa, who now prefers to call himself Miguel referring to the meaning of his name Michel in Spanish.
The only areas that grew rapidly and economically before Genocide 94 are the surroundings of Amahoro National Stadium, a donation of France.
The Genocidaires deliberately crumbled everything down – forcing RPF to start afresh in building the country – before leaving the country when RPF was taking over.
Look now how Kigali City is lit up. Rwandans can now do much of what were formerly considered donations. All old roads have been replaced by new ones.
Buildings are being set up everywhere and there are no signs of Genocide. New areas – like Nyarutarama and Kimironko – are being formed. Modern apartments are in many places.
We had one sole radio station, Radio Rwanda, which significantly worked insufficient hours a day.
On July 8, 1993, we were later introduced to hatred radio, Radio Télévision Libre de Mille Collines (RTLM) and newspapers like Kangura, 1990, that encouraged people to commit Genocide. We had also Radio Rwanda’s infamous second chain that later stopped transmitting.
Today, we have many radio stations that offer educational, financial, news, and health programs. Those radios work 24 hours a day. The web press, which is capable of printing all the newspapers from East Africa during one single night, is being installed.
We formerly depended on TV Rwanda that was a donation to us by France. Now some Rwandans like Albert Rudatsimburwa of Contact FM and Eugène Nyagahene of Radio 10 are looking for the ways of opening up their own TVs.
Ask anyone about tourism before 94 and you are likely going to be told about the brutal death of Dian Fossey, Nyiramacibiri, on December 26, 1985.
Dian Fossey was killed by those who viewed her as an impediment to the tourist and financial exploitation of the gorillas. Protais Zigiranyirazo, President Habyarimana’s brother-in-law, was implicated in the murder of Dian Fossey.
ORTPN is doing magic. All national parks are well protected and taken care of. We know the names of gorillas and we know that gorillas can bear twin babies – remember recent Byishimo and Impano which were christened by President Kagame and the First Lady.
We even saw their photos on the billboards across Kigali City. We invited the whole world in the naming ceremonies of our gorillas.
Finally, Rwanda is surely advancing ahead just in these few years of Liberation. What Colonel Nsekarije did in the 80’s has, after most Rwandan tycoons can, now do so many years of struggling, every month if it has to celebrate.
Rwanda is actively achieving real progress at a high pace in these 14 years more rapidly than 35 years before the Genocide.