Rwanda is a beautiful country with a troubled political past

Kigali, Rwanda.

Rwanda looks unaccustomedly civilized! Nice airport, there are even turnstiles at the border for automatic passes with biometric passports. The city is under construction, many new expensive houses. But the main thing is the perfect cleanliness! Nowhere else in Africa have I seen such cleanliness as in Rwanda. There is not a single piece of paper or cigarette butt. Everything is licked clean! Rwanda is also calm and safe. Stores put their goods right on the sidewalks, not hidden behind bars like in neighboring countries. At night I walked around with my camera and other equipment and nobody said a word )

But you have to pay for comfort and civilization. Rwanda is expensive by African standards. Cab from the airport to the city (about 7 km) costs 1000 rubles. In the city each trip is about 500 rubles. Meals in a normal restaurant are about 1000 rubles for a hot meal. A normal hotel (Marriott) wants already 20 000 rubles per night. Gasoline costs 100 rubles per liter.

Rwanda is known to the world for the terrible genocide in 1994. Then in just four months, according to various estimates, between 500,000 and 1 million people died! Just imagine – every day almost 10,000 people were killed! Whole families were killed with machetes, people were burned in houses and churches. I will make a separate post about the genocide. In the meantime, I recommend you watch the films “Hotel Rwanda” and “Shooting Dogs”. Today only the museum reminds us of the genocide. Rwanda has become a rich, civilized country in 20 years.

01. Rwanda has had a total ban on plastic bags since 2008. At the entrance to the country, Rwandans inspect tourists’ luggage and confiscate prohibited plastic bags. I was not searched and carried 2. bags. But in general, the bag ban has paid off. Tourists and journalists immediately noticed that there is less garbage on the streets and nothing is hanging on the tree branches, unlike in other African countries.

But it has caused big problems for some entrepreneurs. People who work in markets and keep stores complain that cheap paper bags are of too low quality, and they cannot buy expensive ones because then the business becomes unprofitable. The Minister of Trade and Industry calmed them down by promising that a new law on plastic bags will soon come out. Most likely the ban will not be abolished, but probably the state will allow the use of biodegradable bags in trade.

02. Someone’s plane!

Kigali airport security boasts a number in

The airport is the first place to be checked. It all starts at the entrance to the airport. Armed guards stop all cars. Passengers have to get out with their things and put all their suitcases and bags on the mat. There is also a young sheepdog frolicking. One of the soldiers touches the bags and suggests that the dog sniff them, but the sheepdog is too engrossed in playing rubber ball. After the third order, she lazily and indifferently sniffs the bags and runs off to play more.

Before entering the airport there is a man who checks the ticket and passport and then lets us into the checkpoint. There they already look at the passport, the ticket, check for a visa, as well as a certificate of vaccination! All passengers are written down in a separate sheet. Then all your stuff is put through a scanner to enter the airport should take off your shoes, take your laptop out of the suitcase.

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Check-in, passport control without any problems. Then again inspection and taking off your shoes and letting all the stuff through the scanner. Then again visa control, vaccination certificate and boarding pass.

There are a lot of people involved in this whole procedure. Why they duplicate the processes, I do not know.

03. The people here are bright and friendly!

04. The local bikes are bright too!

05. There are many posts with armed guards in the city. In general, Kigali is a very safe city. I’ve walked here quietly at night, during the day, in all neighborhoods, and I haven’t had any problems anywhere!

06. The city is very reliefful. The business center is located on one of the hills.

Rwanda is a good Africa with a bad past. How the country went from hell to paradise in 20 years

Naturally, the memory of the genocide is still fresh among the locals. It is very difficult to understand how the victims live peacefully next to their former torturers. But how this small and inconspicuous people have managed to sort out their problems, adapt and return to normal life at a time when the whole hypocritical world has turned its back on them, is not just a matter of respect, but admiration.

Naturally, the memory of the genocide is still fresh among the locals. It is very difficult to understand how the victims live peacefully next to their former torturers. But how this small and inconspicuous people have managed to sort out their problems, adapt and return to normal life at a time when the whole hypocritical world has turned its back on them, is not just a matter of respect, but admiration.

Rwanda is a good Africa with a bad past. How has the country gone from hell to paradise in 20 years?

On April 7, 1994, horrific events began in Rwanda, resulting in the brutal murder of one million people in three months in an area smaller than the Moscow region. But the strange thing is that one generation later, Rwanda has turned out to be one of the most peaceful and fastest growing countries in the region. We tell you how it happened and what is happening now at the site of the massacre.

The history of most countries is a succession of wars, internecine strife, coups and genocide. The world still remembers the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, or the extermination of the people of Cambodia by the dictator Pol Pot. But there was one genocide that Serj Tankian does not sing about, and that is almost never mentioned in the media. It took place very recently, in 1994, in little African Rwanda.

Background

Naturally, the memory of the genocide is still fresh among the locals. It is very difficult to understand how the victims live peacefully next to their former torturers. But how this small and inconspicuous people have managed to sort out their problems, adapt and return to normal life at a time when the whole hypocritical world has turned its back on them, is not just a matter of respect, but admiration.

The territory of Rwanda is inhabited by two tribes: the Tutsis and the Hutus. First, the Hutus came from southern Africa in search of land, as they were mainly engaged in agriculture. Then from the north of the continent came the nomadic Tutsis.

At a certain period in the ancient history of Rwanda, the Tutsis came to dominate the Hutu. Then the society was divided into two clans – the dominant Tutsi and the “working class” Hutu. Both tribes speak the same language and, at first glance, are almost indistinguishable. In fact, there was one subtle difference: the Tutsis had a slightly different shape of the nose. The Belgian colonizers were guided by this trait in the selection and selection of local elites.

Naturally, the memory of the genocide is still fresh among the locals. It is very difficult to understand how the victims live peacefully next to their former torturers. But how this small and inconspicuous people have managed to sort out their problems, adapt and return to normal life at a time when the whole hypocritical world has turned its back on them, is not just a matter of respect, but admiration.

Europeans supported the Tutsis because of their origins. It was believed that the Tutsis had roots in Ethiopia, so they were closer to Caucasoids, hence superior to the Hutus racially, were smarter and more beautiful. Accordingly, it was they who were given preferential rights to occupy the highest positions in the government and constitute the elite of the state.

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At the Berlin Conference in 1884, during the partition of Africa among the European powers, the territory of Rwanda was given to the German Empire, and in 1916 the country came under Belgian rule. Until the declaration of its independence in 1962, Rwanda had the status of a Belgian colony.

The Hutus could not tolerate their second-class status and in 1959 revolted and seized power. Tens of thousands of Tutsis were killed and the rest fled to neighboring states.

Civil War

Naturally, the memory of the genocide is still fresh among the locals. It is very difficult to understand how the victims live peacefully next to their former torturers. But how this small and inconspicuous people have managed to sort out their problems, adapt and return to normal life at a time when the whole hypocritical world has turned its back on them, is not just a matter of respect, but admiration.

In 1990, the Tutsis decided to regain power and formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (hereafter RPF), which began to fight against the Hutu government. The RPF was led by Rwanda’s current president, Paul Kagame.

The Tutsis waged an active guerrilla war. They did this so successfully that in 1993 the two peoples signed a treaty under which the RPF joined the interim government. The Tutsis were able to return to their homeland, and both sides laid down their arms.

Naturally, the memory of the genocide is still fresh among the locals. It is very difficult to understand how the victims live peacefully next to their former torturers. But how this small and inconspicuous people have managed to sort out their problems, adapt and return to normal life at a time when the whole hypocritical world has turned its back on them, is not just a matter of respect, but admiration.

Despite these agreements, the Hutu radicals were unhappy with the state of affairs. Youth militant groups emerged, trained and armed by the military. Chauvinistic pamphlets calling for the extermination of the Tutsi began to circulate. But since the majority of the population was illiterate, radio was much more popular. This was actively used by the propagandists. People were led to believe that the Tutsis wanted to re-establish their position in society and dominate the Hutus.

The Rwandan Genocide

Naturally, the memory of the genocide is still fresh among the locals. It is very difficult to understand how the victims live peacefully next to their former torturers. But how this small and inconspicuous people have managed to sort out their problems, adapt and return to normal life at a time when the whole hypocritical world has turned its back on them, is not just a matter of respect, but admiration.

On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down as it approached Kigali. He had just returned from talks in Arusha, Tanzania, to discuss ways to resolve the conflict. It is not known who carried out the attack, but it was after this event that massacres and chaos began.

Hutu radicals killed the Prime Minister, her husband and 10 Belgian soldiers guarding her. In addition, politicians who advocated peace with the Tutsis were killed. The military came to power and created a propaganda network against the Tutsis that Goebbels would have envied. The main propaganda slogan was, “Kill those cockroaches!”

Naturally, the memory of the genocide is still fresh among the locals. It is very difficult to understand how the victims live peacefully next to their former torturers. But how this small and inconspicuous people have managed to sort out their problems, adapt and return to normal life at a time when the whole hypocritical world has turned its back on them, is not just a matter of respect, but admiration.

It was not only the military who exterminated the Tutsis, but also the civilians. The army even gave away free machetes for this purpose. On the roads, documents were checked, which at the time indicated one’s nationality. If a person was a Tutsi, he was usually killed on the spot. Neither children, nor the elderly, nor women were spared.

It is fair to say that some citizens of the Hutu tribe were much more humane. Risking their own lives, they saved Tutsi refugees from certain death. There is the story of hotel manager Paul Rusesabajin, who used his high social status and financial wealth to shelter hundreds of people in his hotel. The events are described in the movie Hotel Rwanda.

Thugs combed all the houses looking for Tutsis. Their dwellings were burned and their possessions were stolen. The Tutsis, in turn, sought refuge in schools and churches. Some were hidden by priests and some were turned in. Many Tutsis were killed or turned in to killers by their neighbors, friends, and colleagues. Importantly, it was not only the Tutsis who were massacred, but also the so-called “moderate Hutus” – those who harbored or sympathized with the persecuted. Tutsi women were usually first raped and then killed. Many of them, having survived the violence, are now infected with AIDS.

The End of Genocide

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Naturally, the memory of the genocide is still fresh among the locals. It is very difficult to understand how the victims live peacefully next to their former torturers. But how this small and inconspicuous people have managed to sort out their problems, adapt and return to normal life at a time when the whole hypocritical world has turned its back on them, is not just a matter of respect, but admiration.

The Tutsis sought help from UN peacekeepers. But, unfortunately, they could not use weapons, since by statute it meant direct intervention. The Hutu militants took advantage of this condition by rounding up people one by one (but en masse).

Naturally, the memory of the genocide is still fresh among the locals. It is very difficult to understand how the victims live peacefully next to their former torturers. But how this small and inconspicuous people have managed to sort out their problems, adapt and return to normal life at a time when the whole hypocritical world has turned its back on them, is not just a matter of respect, but admiration.

Europeans and Americans evacuated their citizens and did not intervene in the conflict. The Clinton administration opposed the UN mission, after which the Security Council ordered the peacekeepers to leave the country immediately. Of the 2,500 soldiers of Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, only a couple of hundred remained. Showing will and heroism (largely against the orders of their superiors), the general and his soldiers defended the Tutsis to the last man, creating special hiding zones.

General Romeo Dallaire

Naturally, the memory of the genocide is still fresh among the locals. It is very difficult to understand how the victims live peacefully next to their former torturers. But how this small and inconspicuous people have managed to sort out their problems, adapt and return to normal life at a time when the whole hypocritical world has turned its back on them, is not just a matter of respect, but admiration.

Despite this, Dallaire became depressed after the genocide ended, blaming himself for the deaths of Rwandans, and made several suicide attempts. Some of the UN soldiers who could not live with the memories of the massacre also committed suicide. In 2003, Dallaire published a book, A Handshake with the Devil, which was later adapted into a movie.

The massacre stopped after RPF fighters led by Paul Kagame took Kigali in July and the defeated Hutu government fled to Zaire. According to official figures, about a million people died in a hundred days of carnage. Kagame subsequently became vice president of Rwanda and minister of defense and, in 2000, became president. Re-elected several times, he achieved a doubling of GDP and economic and technological development. Not surprisingly, in today’s Rwanda, Kagame is considered by many to be a national hero.

Naturally, the memory of the genocide is still fresh among the locals. It is very difficult to understand how the victims live peacefully next to their former torturers. But how this small and inconspicuous people have managed to sort out their problems, adapt and return to normal life at a time when the whole hypocritical world has turned its back on them, is not just a matter of respect, but admiration.

In November 1994, the UN organized an international tribunal on Rwanda. The perpetrators are still being found and tried to this day.

After the events described there was a change of elites, a flow of Western investments and humanitarian aid began. Philanthropic organizations started to operate widely. According to the official ideology, there are no longer tribal divisions in the country, only Rwandans – a single nation.

Naturally, the memory of the genocide is still fresh among the locals. It is very difficult to understand how the victims live peacefully next to their former torturers. But how this small and inconspicuous people have managed to sort out their problems, adapt and return to normal life at a time when the whole hypocritical world has turned its back on them, is not just a matter of respect, but admiration.

How modern Rwanda lives after the genocide

In order to understand how Rwanda lives today, it is best to ask someone who has been there, and not as a tourist. Natalia, an employee of the embassy of a Latin American country, who spent some time in Rwanda on a charity mission, helped us out. She did it on her own initiative, coming here with a volunteer project Ubushobozi. Unfortunately, she asked not to give her last name.

The trip was not what she had expected and life in modern Rwanda is not some stereotypical African gloom and dread. In fact, everything is much more complicated and interesting:

“A year and a half ago I became interested in literature about the UN and other international organizations. One of the books published by the UN quite often referred to Rwanda as the most failed peacekeeping mission. To be honest, I didn’t even know such a country existed at the time. I started looking for information on the Internet and immediately realized that I had to go.

I threw myself into a search for volunteer programs. The first thing that usually comes to mind for people looking for such organizations are programs related to children. I came across Ubushobozi in the United States, a volunteer organization set up to help women survivors of genocide and violence. Every day they come to the house, to the community, where they sew and weave handicrafts. They put their wares up for sale on the Internet. Part of the proceeds are their salary and part of the money goes to the project. Being very religious, the women go to church together, where they pray and dance.

In Musanz, the second most important city after the capital, Kigali, the project is run by a local woman, Serafin. For these women, the community is their second and sometimes only family. Some are victims of domestic violence, some are orphans, and there is one woman with HIV. Most of them are orphans or have lost someone close to them because of genocide. Generally speaking, anyone currently living in Rwanda has suffered from genocide – it’s only been a short time.

The topic of genocide among locals is taboo. Until the last moment, I wanted to talk to the locals, but I hesitated for a long time. During one of my walks with Serafine, I met her sister in the street. Later I learned that her husband had been killed in the genocide. It became clear from the conversation that she knew the murderer, and he was at large. A reasonable question was asked if she was seeking revenge. It was explained to me that in church they teach forgiveness.

The man who killed her husband repented, asked for forgiveness, and she forgave him! Now they periodically cross paths in the city and even socialize. For a European, this is nonsense, but here it is the order of the day. They say there is a condition in the local courts: if a person has repented, they either let him go or reduce his sentence. There really are people walking the streets who have killed. They calmly interact with others who have forgiven them. Many former Hutu fighters were afraid of justice and fled to Uganda, Congo. Perhaps because of this, crime rates have risen in neighboring countries.

Serafin tells of armed men breaking into her family’s home during the genocide. She had to pay them off to stay alive. On other occasions, people were killed after taking their valuables.

The Ubushobozi community is made up of both Tutsis and Hutus and they live in peace. In Rwanda it is not customary to throw away food, there are many people on the street who can simply give it away. So when I was full and couldn’t finish a portion in a restaurant, there was always someone to feed me.

Business is developing in the capital; Americans and Europeans are coming. There’s a growing influx of Chinese investment. The Chinese are building a lot of buildings. The modern Chinese new buildings look colorful against the backdrop of the slums. One of the types of cabs are people in overalls on bicycles, who will give you a ride on the trunk to any point. There are no cats or dogs in the city. Perhaps they were exterminated after they ate corpses during the genocide.

A kind of Facebook cult has developed in Rwanda. Not everyone has a computer, so Internet cafes are still popular.

The local population has become cultured. It is absolutely safe in the city limits. It is not customary to smoke in the streets or to eat while walking. Social programs are developed. For example, in the main square of the city citizens are given anti-mosquito nets. The crime rate is not high, you can walk around quietly in the evenings.

People respect the police and the law. It is said that there is no corruption at the household level as such. There is no such thing as a bribe to a policeman.

During the last few days of the trip, I visited the Kigali Memorial Center, built on the site of a mass grave. The permanent exhibitions explain the causes of genocide and tell the history of genocides in the world.

On the second floor is the Children’s Memorial. This is where tears begin to fall. Under the photos of the children are signed who was into what, and next to them are the causes of death: chopped up with a machete, stoned, shot.

The guest book has entries left by people from many countries. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any reviews from my compatriots. I wish Russians would pay attention to this country. There is really something to see here. There is a nature reserve – Akajera National Park, which is no worse than the Kenyan or South African reserve.

At first I thought that the spirit of genocide must still hang here. However, in reality, the country turned out to be very cheerful. Today, everyone lives amicably, there is no difference between people. Smiling people harmonize with the beautiful nature. Every corner is a picturesque panorama with magnificent scenery: green hills, trees, rivers. Because of the terrain, Rwanda has been nicknamed the country of “a thousand hills”. Modern Rwanda is absolutely safe and harmless – with a dark past, but a bright future.

Meeting such cheerful people is just a balm for the soul, it’s impossible to describe in words. I very much hope that I did something useful for the women of the Ubushobozi project. I can say that this trip changed a lot of things for me.

Rwanda then and now are two different countries. After the trip, I started to think differently about material possessions. The locals are happy about the mundane things that we have in abundance. They are optimistic, love to dance, socialize. They have a great sense of humor. These people want to live and enjoy life.”

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Compared to neighboring countries, modern Rwanda almost looks like Europe. Having completely eliminated all discrimination and division into nationalities, Rwanda has moved on. The environment is actively taken care of here. Plastic bags are banned. Every last Saturday of the month, the entire population of the country holds a subbotnik. Schools in Rwanda teach English and French in addition to the native language.

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