Rwanda’s remarkable development is now a worldly trademark of hope to all other post-war countries. It’s been 25 years since the country faced the worst tragedy human race can ever face but despite bitter consequences, the country has now taken vital ambitions to uproot poverty and head towards development path.
Today, Rwanda does not look the same as 25 years ago, when Genocide Against Tutsi erupted. Ambitions that were set to recall the nation from poverty seem to be bearing fruits. The development that was fought for is now real, in almost all dimensions and all sectors. Economically, the country’s wealth has been progressing uninterrupted. The national GDP has exceeded $9.14 billion and GDP per capital stands around $776.39 USD. Moreover, country’s economic growth has consistently increased at more than 6% average for the past ten years, highlighting the success of all invested efforts.
In social life, country’s progress can be smelled too. Rwandans have evolved or changed their cultures, rituals or customs in relation to how their education, finance and social integration with other groups has improved. At some point, mostly in intense atmosphere of disagreement, Rwandans have come to realize that some of their cultures were actually dangerous to their lives, and so they come to relinquish them, and replace them with modern and more civilized cultures aped from other parts of the world, thanks to the rise of technology.
In other circumstances, Rwandans had to adapt to new cultures as a necessity after acquiring new materials that weren’t available in our history. Laws and moral perspectives also pushed Rwandans to leave behind their traditional way of life in order to reach into modern lifestyle.
Today, Rwanda is truly devouring fruits earned from this hard-long process of transforming and forming new mindset among Rwandans. It reached to a higher extent that country’s sanity, organization and rapid development have attracted multiple delegations from foreign countries to learn how it was possibly done, in relation to how the country was just recovering from Genocide Against Tutsi in 1994.
Now, let’s look at some disappeared cultures that were dropped by Rwandans as they got more development.
Public Spitting and Urinating, a forgotten story.
People spitting and urinating around was just a simple thing, only that someone is on walk and got some emergency. There weren’t many public toilets and so there was no way of holding urine for hours before reaching home’s toilet to help yourself. Then the logic was simple, find a hidden place and finish the business without harming anyone.
It later turns out that almost all corners and other hidden places that were chosen for that purposes, had many dangerous effects in common. There was a very rude sting, likely to cause serious diseases to surrounding neighbors who had to endure them or just leave the place. The government, in its efforts to fight these bad behaviors, encouraged its citizens to never urinate anywhere or spite at anything.
The government also set up rules to be followed in punishing convicted people. It even required all public and commercial buildings to have public toilets, in order to facilitate people to solve their problems easily.
Today, the culture has, all of a sudden, changed completely. It is almost unimaginable to be guilt ofurinatinganywhere or spiting at everything.
When the last time did u find a shoeless pedestrian?
It once used to be a huge burden to wear shoes. It was complicated to walk in and took a bit time. They would be used for special occasions, like weeding and baptism. But for ordinary activities like going to schools, wearing shoes was arrogant that schools prompted to avoid students coming with shoes because it would be considered as a classifying act among students. Ordinary citizens, whose jobs were fulfilled outside the office, couldn’t bother wearing them too.
However, the government vowed to change such perception. It commanded all students to attend schools in uniform and shoes, people in search of official help were also required to join offices in shoes. Together with continuous campaigns about the danger of not using shoes, citizens adapted to his new culture till it simply become a normal habit that can be done by rich and poor in their respective financial status.
The country has again lofted its punch by initiating small and big industries to produce shoes locally, in a bid to fully satisfy a rapidly growing market with affordable prices.
A well-travelled person in the region would have probably understood this point even before. It is totally impossible to ride a motorbike without a helmet; there is simply no way whether in major or side way roads. If a moto biker isn’t quick enough to pass a helmet over his right shoulder, a passenger will gently knock his left one asking for it. It is a culture now that a motorbike rides only two people, whose heads are protected with helmets.
If not, there is a huge pay for riders because it is rightly considered as endangering someone’s life in case of accidents.
In transport terms, Rwanda has also done a lot more works to regulate this important sector. For instance, all public vehicles are required to install ‘Speed Governor sensor’ which is supposed to warn drivers when they speed up above limitations. People are still dying because of accidents but surely, these measures have played a considerable role in reducing the numbers.
Overloading Passengers is now practically impossible.
Hey there was a time in Rwanda when the number of passengers in taxes (which were used for public transport) wasn’t set by the limit of its seats but the humanity of the owners. It was an unnegotiable thing with simple logic, you allow it or just leave the tax. Sometimes, in line designed to support four people, the owner of the car would just put in six of them. Breathing in these conditions wasn’t as easy as today when there is a single, safe and big seat for every passenger who booked a place in current buses which are regulated and owned by companies instead of individuals.
Beside, former taxes’ regulators known as Convoyeur, who used to let people in and out of taxes and to collect money are no longer present in today’s transport system. Technology has enabled Kigalians to have their seats in buses on by tapping their cards, a process known as Tap and Go.
National Flag isn’t a burden anymore.
Well it is sometimes very difficult to understand how on the earth Rwandans used to handle some obligations that were over their heads. Some cultures, customs and rituals were so hard to bear that they turned to be a burden rather than a joyful thing. I know a flag wouldn’t be the first guess but honestly, here is how it burdened Rwandans compared to how it is used now.
Before 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi, Rwandans, every 8AM, had to pose in maximum silence to honor national anthem while lofting national flag. The custom would be applied in every place that had national flag, whether in hospitals, schools, or offices, unminding any consequence that may arise from such stagnancy. Academicians are still struggling to understand why such customs was applied.
Today, the flag can be minimized only in time of mourning.
Thatched Houses are no longer in country’s surface
If you hear that, firstly know that thatched houses were the only kind of houses in traditional Rwanda. That was before the government’s initiative, through local government ministry, to absolutely eradicate all thatched houses from Rwanda’s surface. It took a bit long, as it required more resources than only changing mindset, but it finally become a reality.
Programs like Umuganda and others enabled vulnerable citizens to get good houses, covered with stools. The government also established villages which accommodated people with less resources to set up their own eligible houses, according to basic requirements for building a house in Rwanda.
Currently, nowhere can you find a thatched house designed to shelter people, only animals or for other purposes.
Roadside Dumps are a thrashed history.
With no systematic way to report wastes in their respective places, citizens created dumps alongside big roads or water-stream-caves. It was a normal custom but it is now a thrashed history because the government brought in new strategies to manage wastes all over the country.
Now, Kigali, and other districts, has big dumps that collects wastes which can be even renewable sometimes. Roads and other public places are strictly protected from dumps in order to avoid respiratory and other diseases that may arise from wastes’ odor.
Also, every sector in Kigali has its own car to monitor ‘sanitation level’ and help in security patrols.
Public Shepherd No Longer Exists.
Rwandans are well familiar with livestock. It is embedded in our culture to live with domestic animals, especially cows, which is a huge symbol in Rwandan culture. In summer, most shepherds took their cattle far away looking for grasses and water. These journeys spread diseases in animals which could be easily transferred to people. The government decided to put this matter to rest by requiring all livestock owners to build animals shelter with the margin of their land.
The program is praised to have increased livestock productivity both in quality and quantity.
Pipe sharing has now vanished.
Rwandans are great friends and they expressed that friendship through sharing drinks, which is also a huge symbol in Rwandan culture. They did so by inserting pipes in traditional containers and so each one in the circle or line (as it was mostly set) would wait his turn to pour a mouthful share before passing a container to the next waiting comrade. All this would be done with a single pipe in container, known as Agacuma, and it would signify friendship among comrades.
The custom however brought many diseases and the ministry of Health decided to stop it 13 years ago. Currently, it is forbidden to share one pipe to more than one person.
These are a few of uncountable changes that Rwandans have made in the frame of development. All dimensions and sectors have rapidly changed or improved and so citizens are the main beneficiaries of these improvements. More excitingly is that Rwanda’s development seems to be growing even further, which assures that social style of Rwandans will not just cease in the foreseeable future.
The Express News