The previous Rwanda Perspective posts gave you background on Rwanda. If you are new to Rwanda, my goal is to provide you with an insight into the beauty and wonder of the country. If you have a connection with Rwanda, then these posts are a way to reconnect. In the previous eight perspectives, the images with minimal narrative or captions were an attempt for an objective insight into Rwanda. While each post began with a narrative, my purpose was to maintain as much an open canvas as possible in order to achieve the purpose of these perspectives as I mention in my opening to this endeavor.
I have the opportunity to travel to many different continents and countries. These experiences provide a worldview that allows me to look at life from different window frames. In each case, I see more things that are the same and less differences. While traditions, cultures, and food, climate, and landscapes offer new views, I find that humanity seeks identical goals. Striving for peace and security, with the opportunity to advance, give their children a better life, and make a difference.
Rwanda is a blend of the land, flora, fauna, people, cultures, and traditions. Removing any one of these elements changes the definition of Rwanda. Ultimately, people define the vitality and the meaning of a country. Especially, since people – you and I – are the interpreters of the meaning of nation. Other countries have similar landscapes, exotic animals, and a few their tropical rain forest. In each case – people ultimately define the environment thru their traditions, customs, rituals, and beliefs. Thus, any history or understanding of a culture requires an insight into the experience of the citizenry.
People define and preserve traditions, sustain their culture, form the political environment and determine how they remain faithful to their history, while advancing current realities. There is the need for balancing dances that ensure progress, without abandoning their roots, are essential to remain relevant in the future. Nation survival begins with its ability to preserve its heritage and culture. At the same time, people must assimilate advancing technological and socio-economic changes. Much of this homeostasis depends on leaders; ultimately, it is the focus on the common good. The common good finds its definition within the context of the people. Rwanda is a model of absorbing their colonial experience, advancing modernism without abandoning their traditions.
The most amazing example of Rwandan resilience and pragmatic approach to life rises from the ashes of the recent genocide. Of the genocides in history, the Rwandan experience is one of the most dramatic. What makes this genocide different is that their fellow citizens kill 800,000 to 1,000,000 of the population within less than one hundred days. Additionally about two million fled the country. The inference that this was an ethnic war overshadows the reality of the conflict, which in all respects was a political genocide. Forces within the country are responsible masterminding this horrific destruction of Rwanda. In essence, of all previous genocides and civil destruction, Rwanda presents the extreme in the extreme! The ones executing the killings, the rapidity, and depth of destruction is beyond imagination. From these ashes, Rwanda rebuilds its socio-economic infrastructure in a conciliatory way forming a new country while balancing the best of the past with the needs of the future.
The genocide is one event in the history of Rwanda. As any event the holocaust, world wars, totalitarianism, and civil strife are moments of human abnormality, which does not define the totality of a people. The ultimate judgment of a nation is how they respond to that event. It takes the collaboration of government, leaders, institutions, businesses, and regular people. This is an important message we get from Rwanda. The kleptocratic behavior of some nations is not part of the Rwandan experience. The country is secure and focusing on progress for its entire people through education, health care, and developing an economy that benefits all.
No matter how effective some see a government, there is always criticism of government. In essence, it is difficult if not impossible to please everyone, especially those that did not vote for the winner. My understanding, observations, and in-country visits provide a window frame, and thus becomes the subject of subsequent postings. The amalgamation of our diversity leads to something greater than the sum of the parts.
In the next posts, I plan on raising some key subjects. While Rwanda is a focal point, these ideas and issues are worldwide. If we are to overcome the civil unrest of the world, the increasing frustrations, and the unwillingness to enter into dialogue, then we must all engage. We are becoming a global community. Parochialism must give way to collaboration, integrating the best of our ideas to build a worldview that ensures our sustainability as a civilization. I would never presume that I have answers. My hope is that asking the right questions will lead to insights that ensure the common good benefits all citizens of the world.