The glowing face of Rwanda

It is rather unfortunate that the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis has grown to be one of the single biggest historical hallmarks for Rwanda, besides the Mountain Gorillas and the movie Africa United. Just like we have years numbered as BC (before Christ) and AD many of Rwanda’s social, political and economic dynamics are categorized as before or after the genocide.

It is rather unfortunate that the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis has grown to be one of the single biggest historical hallmarks for Rwanda, besides the Mountain Gorillas and the movie Africa United.

Just like we have years numbered as BC (before Christ) and AD many of Rwanda’s social, political and economic dynamics are categorized as before or after the genocide.

It is therefore clear that the social demographics of this country have undergone several significant shifts since the Rwanda Patriotic Front troops stopped the genocide in July 1994. With the end of the war, a society that had endured years of segregation had to be rebuilt from almost scratch.
Thousands of Rwandans had been forced into a life of exile for several decades. The lethal political games back then made the country very unattractive to tourists and investors who did not want to get caught in the bloody genocide attacks that were always on and off since 1959.

Thankfully, a ray of hope beamed out and Rwanda started seeing real and sustainable growth. From being an unknown tiny Central African nation, the country is now a much more positively recognisable brand in East Africa and the world over—the tourism benefits that have come with the rare Mountain Gorilla that has become one of the biggest foreign exchange earners.

Soon after the end of the war, thousands of Rwandans who had been in exile for many decades started returning. The Rwandan Diaspora is as diverse as the North Pole is to the South Pole.

These Rwandans have adopted some cultural practices that they have brought back to their homeland. This explains why it is very easy to find Rwandans who can speak any of the regional language dialects. Although all Rwandans speak Kinyarwanda as the unifying language, don’t be shocked to hear some of them speaking fluent Swahili, Lingala, Luganda, Luo, Kikuyu, as much as they speak the rarest dialects in Africa like Polish or Russian and even Chinese.

The decision to join the East African Community in July 2007 and the country’s favourable labour and investment policies have seen people from the region flocking to invest and work in Rwanda. Others from far beyond have also heeded this call.

In a very short time we are now seeing Rwanda increasingly becoming so cosmopolitan. People from all continents and walks of life are becoming part and parcel of the Rwandan society.

There is clearly a way in which Rwandans returning from the Diaspora and foreigners flocking to this country have changed the face of this country without substantially taking away the core Rwandan values. I must say the mixture is tasty.

ssenyonga@gmail.com

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