Rwanda: Literally, Back from the Dead

By Shlomo Maital  


  The horrendous Rwanda genocide was a  mass slaughter  that happened in 1994.   In 100 days  over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate.    But some estimates put the death toll at as much as 1 million, or 20 per cent of the entire population.

   According to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, “Most people assumed that Rwanda was broken and, like Somalia, another country wracked by violence, would become a poster child for Africa’s failed states. It’s now a poster child for success.”  Much of the credit goes to its President, Paul Kagame.  Zakaria notes, “Average incomes have tripled; the health care system is good enough that the Gates Foundation cites them as a model, education levels are rising.  The government is widely seen as one of the more efficient and honest ones in Africa. Fortune magazine published an article recently titled “Why CEOs Love Rwanda.” “

   Kagame was the leader of the forces that came in and ended the genocide. He has led the country since then and implemented controversial programs to help build stability in the country.   Zakaria: “The only way President Kagame could see to make peace was to reintegrate these communities. He came up with a specially crafted solution — using local courts called Gacacas.   In each village, the killers stood before their neighbors and confessed, and in turn were offered forgiveness — part court, and part community council. It has made for a fascinating historical experiment that seems to be working.”

   I know that Kagame is highly controversial.  It is said Rwandan military forces have meddled in the Congo. He is said to be undemocratic and repressive.   But look at the data.    They include IMF projections for 2013-17.

Rwanda excel

   Rwanda is now one of Africa’s great economic success stories.  Kagame has created a highly entrepreneurial economy.   Tutsi’s and Hutu’s live and work together to build their country.   Who would have thought this possible in 1994?