It was dark in Rwanda between April to July 1994 when the Hutu led-government killed eight hundred thousand people mostly from the Tusti minority ethnic group. Paul Kagame was the military leader that defeated the Hutu coalition to stop the massive killing of the Rwandans. Rwanda lost almost 10% of her population in the genocide which was tagged one of the worst ethnic killings in the history of Africa.
Rwanda marked the 25th anniversary of the killing of the Tusti minority but with a different narrative. The days of darkness where ethnic murder, poor infrastructure, malnutrition, and poverty exist has been replaced by days of hope and celebration of what transformational leaders can do for their people and society. Paul Kagame who was famous for leading the militia that stopped the ethnic killings became the democratically elected president of Rwanda in the year 2000. He was re-elected in 2010.
Today, Rwanda has been tagged the “Africa’s biggest success story”. A story of positive transformation from civil war to a nation with a symbol of hope in what African leaders can do and should be doing at all levels.
Not many nations with civil war experience witnessed what is happening in Rwanda. Within a short time, Rwanda history had been written to one with the prospect of becoming a template for good governance. Rwanda under President Paul Kagame is showing traction in all the eight primary characteristics of good governance according to the United Nations standards which are participatory, consensus-oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and Inclusive, and respect for the rule of law.
From a war-ravaged country two decades ago, a state ranked 150th in the ease of Doing Business in the world is now ranked 29th and 2nd in Africa. Primary Education is universal, meaning 100% of the children have access to free primary education. There is gender equality in the cabinet with thirteen male and thirteen female ministers and the youngest age of thirty-one, the average of forty-eight years.
Rwanda recently became the first country in the world to use Drone Technology to transfer blood and medicine to hospitals. The health care in the country is free with mandatory eye care for all the citizens. Kigali became the cleanest city in Africa due to the ban on non-biodegradable plastic and the necessary monthly cleaning exercise since 2008.
The giant stride in the education sector of Rwanda is not only in the free school and increasing enrolment at the primary stage. The public schools are so advanced and effective leading to the low patronage of the private schools. Thus, the game is over for people who see education as an avenue to make money due to the government inefficiency in providing quality education to the citizens. On February 27, 2019, Rwanda launched the first ever satellite in the country to connect schools with internet access across remote areas for ease of learning and the development of pupils with the 21st-century skills. Kigali is now reputed as the cleanest city in Africa.
As if the above multiple strides are not enough, the government according to Paula Ingabire, the country’s minister for information and communications technology and innovation, will be open a smartphone factory in Rwanda by Mara Corporation, making it the first country in Africa to manufacture full-scale phones locally.
We could continue to count and count the positive components and outcome of the Rwanda transformational journey. One basic fact about Rwanda, Africa’s “biggest success story” is the influence of leadership. John C. Maxwell, the world-renowned leadership expert said all rises and falls on leadership. He was also known for saying that ‘a leader is someone who knows the way, goes the way and knows the way. President Paul Kagame must, therefore, be given credit for his vision and the way his government is delivering the benefits of good governance with a futuristic approach.
The future of Africa is not depended on foreign aids and incentives. Africa is a continent with massive potential to help the world. The road to maximising the African potential starts with the right perspective and a paradigm shift. It is welcoming to see Paul Kagame showing the way in his attitude about aids and religion in his country. He was quoted to have made a profound statement relating to foreign subsidies after he closed 6000 religious houses to prevent playing on people’s faith by the spiritual leaders who see their callings as money-making businesses. Kagame’s word ‘I would rather argue, that we need to mobilise the right mindsets, rather than more funding. Africa has everything it needs, in real terms, but Africans remain mentally married to the idea that nothing can get moving, without external finances. We are even begging for things we already have. That is absolutely a failure of mindset.’ is a learning pathway that should be adopted by leaders at all levels.
Leaders are to start with why by having a mindset shift and paradigm recalibration. Leadership is about achieving results and making the organisations better than they were before and not working with entitlement mindsets. A change in mindset will go a long way to replicate the light that is shining in Kigali to all the other cities in Africa.
Babs Olugbemi FCCA, the Chief Responsibility Officer at Mentoras Leadership Limited and Founder, the Positive Growth Africa. He can be reached on [email protected] or 08025489396.