To millions of Rwandans and objective observers around the world, President Paul Kagame is the most compelling hero of our time. He is a man who not only put his life on the line to stop the most ferocious genocide in modern history, the genocide against the tutsi, while the rest of the world watched with indifference, but he has been the main architect of Rwanda’s phenomenal turn-around from a basket case in 1994 to a model state in Africa, today. This is our reality; our truth.
The Kagame and country he leads as painted in the article: Home remains no-go area for many Rwandan refugees 25 years after genocide, by freelance journalist Cyril Zenda published in TRT World, recently, are not the Kagame and Country we know. In the twisted logic of the author and his sources, Rwanda is burning because it led by a man who ‘strikes fear in the hearts of refugees’, is ‘vindictive’ and won’t rest until he ‘kills all his enemies.’ The author and his sources further claim that Rwanda is a place where only the ‘suicidal’ live or are prepared to return. The article deliberately fails to establish where sources quoted in the article view themselves as President Kagame’s enemies as well as to mention a critical fact: Over two million Rwandans forced into refugee life by the genocidal forces returned to Rwanda and none was killed, even though many had killed before fleeing the country. Over two million of these were tried in Gacaca courts and 400,000 were convicted. None of those convicted were sentenced to death, not only because we do not have the death penalty, but because President Kagame and his government had made a radical choice to pursue restorative and not punitive justice against the perpetrators of the genocide. Killers were not killed. Instead, they were rehabilitated and are now productive members of society.
Clearly, the article’s portrayal of President Kagame and Rwanda as framed in the article is an absolute inversion of our reality and its malicious, defamatory and unfounded attacks on Rwanda’s leadership, government and country can only evoke shock and consternation from all objective observers. Indeed, this twisted image of Kagame and the country he leads must exist in a parallel universe. In our view, the article is the work of a polemicist eager to judge without evidence and to assassinate the character of a decent and compassionate man – and the living hero of our land - in the hope that his pretentions at objective outrage; his apparent historical revisionism and invidious inversion of our reality will pass for the truth.
The good news is: Rwanda is a rich reservoir of positive, compelling and often times controversial stories. We welcome TRT World to task journalists, not polemicists, to tap into this reservoir and share with its readers Rwanda’s true narrative, filled with earth-shaker stories, all the time.
Only this week, a mutual friend who Rwanda shares with Turkey, His Highness Tamim bin Hammad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, was in capital, Kigali, to preside over the 4th edition of the Anti-Corruption Excellence Awards held in Rwanda in recognition of President Kagame’s laudable fight against corruption and his untiring efforts to build a society based on justice and good governance. And an agreement was reached there between Rwanda, Qatar and the UN to establish a global Anti-Corruption Training Centre in Kigali. Both leaders were also witnesses to the signing of an economic partnership agreement that will see Qatar Airways invest nearly $800 million in a new $1.3 Billion airport, in Rwanda, making it the single largest FDI commitment in our country’s history. An earth-shaker type of a story.
Equally, there are ennobling stories on national reconciliation, restorative justice, survivor resilience, women empowerment, peacekeeping, inclusive political dispensation and equity in economic management. 25 years ago, Rwanda was a failed state. Its economy was in shambles. Yet, this week, released national statistics indicate Rwanda’s economy grew at 11.9% in the third quarter. GDP Growth in the second quarter was 12.20. All indications are that Rwanda will record the highest GDP growth in the world this year.
And these levels of positive performance do not happen by accident. They are a product of effective leadership under President Kagame who is untiring in the crafting of winning strategies, but also on focused action to deliver on a vision of shared prosperity. Discerning international observers and rating agencies have taken note of Rwanda’s positive journey of rebirth and transformative renewal. Where the author and his genocide denier sources see a ‘brutal regime’, others see an efficient, people-centred democracy, keen on building an inclusive peaceful society in which all Rwanda’s children can, and are, thriving. It is the informed view of the Global Competitiveness Index that Rwanda is the 7th most efficient state in the world and the first globally in women political empowerment. Of note is that 61.3% of our parliament is controlled by women; 50% of Cabinet is controlled by women; 50% of all judges in Rwanda are women and they controlled nearly 45% of small businesses in the country. In the din of sounds voicing Rwanda’s accolades is the World Bank which has, over the last decade, consistently rated Rwanda as the second best country in Africa for Ease of doing Business. And our country has been rated by the Legatum Prosperity Index, as the second safest place in the world for women to walk at night.
Local and International assessment of Rwanda and its leadership tell of a country that is safe, secure, progressive, inclusive, caring and compassionate. This is the Rwanda that nearly 13 million citizens know and delight in living in, every day. This is the country that millions of tourists visit every year to enjoy its clean city, its warm hospitality, its safe countryside and to soak in the enveloping mystique of its exotic wildlife treasures. This is the land where President Kagame, the man who stopped the 1994 genocide against the tutsi and championed for forgiveness as a basis for reconciliation and national healing, finds time to trek up the Virunga mountains to check, for himself, whether the mountain gorillas are safe - and invites friends and conservationists, globally, to come and share in the celebration and naming of new baby Gorillas.
The article deliberately seeks to twist our history by talking of ‘the 1994 genocide’ instead of the internationally accepted terminology, the ‘1994 genocide against tutsi’ and in the true language of genocide deniers, allows an unsubstantiated claim that President Kagame, the tip of the spear in stopping bloodshed during the genocide against the tutsi, is ‘a product of a bloody coup’. It is common knowledge that many suspects in the commission of the genocide against the tutsi live in Zimbabwe. Many of them are business people in downtown Harare. All these are, today, part of a large body of suspects engaged in a protracted genocide denial campaign. A responsible journalist would seek to expose those Rwandans in Zimbabwe suspected to have had a role in the genocide against the tutsi, instead of attacking those working to rebuild a society torn up by the same genocide.
In the view of Legatum Prosperity Index, Rwanda ranks first in Africa in terms of safety; confidence in government; levels of freedom; confidence in elections and trust in police as well as in parliamentary representation for women. It also ranks third in Africa in terms of governance; economic quality and health delivery. Genocide deniers will never acknowledge this. How come an author from Zimbabwe, an African country, does not see what visitors from Turkey, see? Turkey has an Embassy in Kigali. Turkish Airline flies to Kigali every day. Turkish construction companies are the most successful construction companies in Rwanda. Business delegations from Turkey travel to Rwanda regularly. Only last week, a 16-person Kayseri business delegation return from Rwanda and this weekend, a delegation from Istanbul is heading out to Kigali. All those from Turkey and other parts of the world, who have experienced post-genocide Rwanda talk, not of a ‘haunted’ place as claimed in the article, but of a safe, clean and endearing country. And all attest to the excellent job President Kagame has done in turning Rwanda, a failed state 25 years ago, into the Singapore or Switzerland of Africa. In humility, we prefer: The Rwanda of Africa.
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