Rwanda’s success story is a tale of African solutions.

People marking Rwanda’s independence day commemorate sacrifice made by heroes.
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

This story draws inspiration and adds to a recent publication on the Rwandan independence by Lionel Manzi

Economic and social progress serves Rwanda’s national and pan-African interests but irks its detractors who fear its growing influence on the continent.

This month of July marks the 29th anniversary of Rwanda’s Liberation, marking a significant military victory for the Rwandan Patriotic Force (RPF) in 1994.  President Paul Kagame invited Rwandans to reflect on the country’s long and arduous journey from devastation to resilience and prosperity. However, there are critics who attempt to rewrite Rwanda’s history. These historical revisionists bare the colonial hallmarks of denying the agency of African societies in determining their future, but as President Kagame emphasized, “a history written in blood cannot be erased by mere stories.”

Throughout human history, narratives, stories, legends, and myths have played a crucial role in inspiring nations and shaping their purpose. These tales often highlight the remarkable achievements of heroes, providing a blueprint for emulation. The Biblical stories of the ancient Israelites was one such inspiring story that encourages people even today. A modern-day example is the Chinese, who constantly keep in mind their Century of Humiliation—a period marked by balkanization, foreign occupation, and humiliation. of external powers—as they strive to ensure that such a tragedy never befalls their nation again.

Every society has its own defining story, a starting point that serves as a wellspring of inspiration, guiding its aspirations and future endeavors. For Rwandans, their story serves as a powerful source of motivation and identity. There is a scene from the popular series Game of Thrones, where a character ponders what unites people. The conclusion was that a good story holds immense power. Throughout history, societies have relied on stories and legends to inspire and unite nations. Rwanda’s story serves as a source of inspiration for the country’s progress.

Ironically, Rwanda’s progress since 1994 has faced constant scrutiny and criticism from powerful externally based networks, mostly in the Europe. These policy incubators and decision-makers have refuted Rwanda’s story, fearing if widely known and emulated across Africa, it could threaten the West’s long established dominance and exploitation of the continent’s narratives. Hence, there is an effort to control, downplay achievements, and sow confusion. Indeed, the ongoing information manipulation campaign targeting Rwanda is carried out by seemingly innocuous humanitarian or rights groups.

Rwanda’s perceived crimes include challenging France’s influence, rejecting the division of the country, and seeking an internally driven mechanism of justice for the crimes committed during the genocidal war. Rwanda’s leaders dared to defy expectations set for them by external powers and chose to rebuild their nation their way, just as the founding farther of the United States had done. They exposed the limitations of Western prescription and opted for self-reliance. This unconventional approach attracted criticism and led to Rwanda’s dismissal of Western NGOs and their intrusive practices.

In the 1990s the country’s own Gacaca courts handled a massive number of genocide-related cases, while the International Criminal Court for Rwanda (ICTR) handled significantly fewer cases. Indeed the independent truth and reconciliation process carried out by Rwanda cemented a strong foundation for the country’s future. It allowed Rwandans an organic means of deliberating truth and justice, a bonus to its legal system. It was a rebirth of a nation, taking account of history. Rwanda’s peace-building and reconciliation efforts are often lauded by the international community as unique, experimental, and ultimately successful. Post 1994, Rwanda made significant strides to become a nation or ideals without ethnic politics. This work in progress continues. Today Rwanda is one of the most stable and peaceful nations on the African continent.

Furthermore, President Kagame has been vocal in expressing African perspectives to the West, challenging the narrow definition of liberal democracy, and expanding the scope of human rights to include development and well-being of people. In so doing, Rwanda’s story of progress challenges the Western wisdom and the existing world order, which must be discouraged. Hence, the ongoing media narrative campaigns and attempts to rewrite Rwanda’s story. In doing so however, Rwanda did not foolishly reject West categorically. It has also cleverly managed external support from the West were it saw fit to bolster its own path.

Rwandans have not rested on their laurels. They have regrouped, reunited, and rebuilt their nation. Today, this relatively small nation is a regional hub for innovation, a sought-after tourist destination, and a reliable partner for other countries, and one of the leaders of climate change mitigation on the African continent. This progress serves Rwanda’s national and pan-African interests but irks its detractors who fear its growing influence.

The heroes behind Rwanda’s story are not immortal, but their legacy depends on future generations carrying forward their struggle. If Rwandans and Africans continue to honor their sacrifices, the story written in blood will never be erased by ink. Each generation has a mission, and it is crucial not to let their sacrifices go to waste. Rwanda’s story is part of Africa’s significant contributions to the world, and its preservation is essential for the continent’s progressive ideals.

The story of Rwandan rejuvenation in an important reminder that externally prescribed development or governance solutions for Africa do not work. It points to African solutions to African problems. Moreover, the power of a beautiful story lies in its ability to inspire, unite, and overcome challenges. Rwanda’s story of serves as a testament to resilience and a source of inspiration for the nation and Africa as a whole. Despite the pushback from counter narratives to disparage African agency in formulating an independent developmental policy framework, Rwanda’s story must be protected and celebrated to ensure a brighter future for generations to come.

Related Posts