An ongoing debate in some media outlets and blogsphere in the region seems to have reached a new high. The debate, provoked by a continuous series of good publicity about the state of affairs in Rwanda seems to be touching some emotionally.
This is so especially in some countries like Uganda. The fact that Rwanda is able to offer social services to the majority of its people a few years after having been to war and undergone a Genocide, has left many in neighbouring countries wondering why such is not possible in their own countries.
These are countries with more resources and have had a considerable longer period of stability than Rwanda. Many arguments have been advanced by different people. And they are as different as the differences of those advancing such arguments.
But what is obvious is that the presence of the state in the provision of social services to the people in Rwanda has left many elites for example in Uganda, feeling a great sense of frustration with their own leaders.
Some including leaders have gone to the extent of stating that such a debate is unhelpful and ought to be avoided, given that countries are different and have been shaped by different historical circumstances.
Whenever you get in touch with young elites living outside Rwanda, they are always eager to know what makes Rwanda tick, in a region where they see failure of the state in other countries.
Many ask how come the Rwandan state with limited resources compared to its neighbours, is able to offer good roads without pot holes, total security of person and general cleanliness etc, and others cannot.
They always want to know how this has been possible and how come many people of great repute have signed themselves onto the Rwanda story, the good publicity etc.
Well, I believe that those who have over the last couple of years sought to tell the story of Rwanda’s rising, both regionally and internationally, are doing a great service to the African people-the masses.
Of course it may not be so palatable to those in charge of failed states elsewhere because it creates a situation where by people ask them harder questions.
But generally, it is positive to have an island of hope since most of the stories from African countries are those of poverty, ignorance, disease and senseless wars. Of course there was a time when talking about Rwanda brought about memories of killing, genocide and war.
But now thanks to a clear headed administration, there is a real positive story backed by tangible results to tell about this wonderful country. It says a lot about the possibilities that can be achieved by many other countries and peoples given the right conditions.
When a country like Guinea Bissau is going to the dogs, with leaders having a high level of success in killing one another using an undisciplined military, there is a completely different story in another part of the same continent where leaders are succeeding in providing a national health insurance scheme.
The mayhem in Guinea Bissau is going to be making international headlines over a long period of time. And such influences international perceptions about not only Guinea Bissau but Africa and all Africans. But that’s not all there is to Africa.
Hence the story of Rwanda, having reasonable levels of success in doing what others have not done, is re-assuring to many because it keeps hope alive. Moreover, whether people tell the story or not, good deeds always “speak for themselves.”
But above all we ought to recognize that for so long, Africa has been victim to negative stereotypes and they have to be quashed at every opportunity.
By telling a success story from one corner of Africa, many will start questioning the negative stereotypes they are used to hearing about our continent.