Efforts put in promoting and implementing transformational policies and development programmes, coupled with the desired involvement of citizens in the governance of the country, have opened up opportunities for growth and development over the past 20 years, residents in Rwamagana District have said.
The residents argue that the doctrine of good governance which has been embraced by the country’s leadership following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi has been the driving force behind the country’s successful journey to socio-economic transformation.
Fidele Rusagara, 46, from Ruhimbi Cell in Gishari Sector, told Saturday Times that “good governance has been the foundation of development and life transformation.”
“Good governance has laid ground for unity and reconciliation to take their course while also allowing citizens to work hard to transform their lives,” Rusagara said.
“Before the Genocide, many people had been deprived of their rights to education, the society was divided, and people lacked access to the nation’s resources and so much more. But all that has since changed. That has opened up a lot of opportunities for people,” he added.
Rusagara said over the past two decades, his life has experienced continued growth, thanks to an increase in his production. The father of two says he currently rears two Friesian cows, has a two-hectare banana plantation and a one-hectare cassava field.
“If I was able to concentrate on how I could improve my life it is thanks to good leaders who brought good policies and encouraged us to work while at the same time being supportive of our initiatives,” Rusagara said.
Edouard Karekezi, 65, from Mwulire Sector, hailed the “improved quality of services” both in public and private sectors.
He said they no longer spend many days to get services they want, “which gives us more time to concentrate on development activities rather than wasting days running after leaders.”
“That was a result of good governance which continues to drive our country into the right direction,” Karekezi said.
“The socio-political environment is favourable for anyone who wants to work to transform their lives. That is an opportunity we didn’t have for decades.”
Flame of Hope
The residents were speaking to Saturday Times at an event to welcome the Flame of Remembrance in Rwamagana on Thursday.
The torch, which arrived from the neighbouring Kayonza District, continues with its tour of the country ahead of the national commemoration week which starts on April 7.
Its arrival in the rural Mwulire sector marked its 24th stop.
Speaking at the event, the Mayor of Rwamagana District, Nehemie Uwimana, said the torch symbolises Rwanda’s renaissance and its rise from the many, tough challenges that arose from the Genocide.
He told residents that “the Flame was an encouragement for every Rwandan to work for a better nation, striving to look for solutions to any challenge that face them.”
The Minister for Infrastructure, Prof. Silas Lwakabamba, told residents that the Flame brings with it the message that the darkness that befell the country has been defeated by the light of hope and development.
He said it should remind residents of the power of remembrance and its significance to the Rwandan population.
“Remembering that tragic chapter of our history reminds us of who we are and the journey we have covered. It also helps us to keep our commitment to build a better nation,” Prof. Lwakabamba said.
Tale of resistance
When the killings started in April 1994, thousands of Tutsis took refuge at Mwurire hill in the current Rwamagana District. As their numbers continued to swell, local militiamen started launching attacks against them.
But the Tutsi managed to fight back their attackers on several occasions, using traditional weapons, according to survivors.
On April 18, a major attack involving soldiers and Interahamwe militia attacked the hill killings an estimated 26,000 people. They are buried at a memorial site built at the hill.
“We organised a resistance against the killers, we fought from morning to evening. Unfortunately in the end they overpowered us,” said Jean Marie Vianney Rutareka, a survivor.
“We didn’t die like dogs; we tried to defend ourselves.”