Monday, June 7, 2010

Lessons from Rwanda

By Fatuma Noor

Rwanda, a Spectacular sight to behold, settlement that radiates from a winding succession of steep terrace slopes and with beautiful hills and valleys.
A flame that burns at the Kigali memorial center for a 100 days in remembrance of the 1994 genocide dies the memory of turbulent ethnic rivalry in which countries social fabric was deeply affected.
The country which is still fighting to get out of the shadows of genocide is in many ways an African success story. Towards this the youths are deliberately given tasks to improve the country for their future.
With the large percentage being the youths, the Rwandan government has now signed a contract with different youth’s groups and association to contribute to the development of the country.
“The youths do things like cleaning the streets of Kigali, planting palm trees along the medians road to make sure that the country is green and attractive” said Charles Osidi who is the Director of Youths Associations at the Ministry of Youths.
A poster at the airport warns arriving visitors that the country has outlawed plastic bags, it is better for the environment and helps keep the streets clean. Indeed it does - there is little of the trash on the streets of Kigali that is ubiquitous in other poor cities

These Rwandan youth do all this purely on voluntarily basis get stipends from the council and in return they get to host the gardens.
“If someone is in the Association and maybe wants to have a party or wedding at one of the parks of Kigali, they are provided for free” said Charles.
With a large percentage being the youths, the country In a bid to promote youths self employment and development, a youth Fund was established.
Kojad a youth Fund was established 3 years ago and has been operational since then and its been used by the youths to generate income and more than Ksh. 600M has been loaned to the youths.
“The youth fund is meant to be loaned to either individuals or groups to generate income and provide employment for the youths” said Uwingeneye Moolestine the Manager of the Kojad youth fund.
Moolestine says that this is one of the Rwandan youth recovery plant and it has worked as more youths keep benefiting from the progress.
“The people who use the motorbikes are all the beneficiaries of the youth fund, some businesses here are all beneficial of this youth fund, we have less of idol youths” said Moolestine.
But inlike the Kenyan youths, The Rwandese youths most of them being the witnesses and survivors of the genocide are on their way to recovery and making the country a better place to live.
Unlike the Rwandan government which is doing much to promote the leasers of tomorrow, Kenya could borrow a leaf from the Rwandan government.
“ al of a sudden we have a huge number of young people who are unemployed and the Kenyan government has no prospects for them, this makes them idol and act up” said Raphael Tuju the Director Kenya Hope Foundation and an advisor to the president.
Tuju added that despite the many initiatives started in Kenya for the youths, little or no effort is being seen to helping them.
“Kenyans could learn a lot from the Rwandan govermet, the country has prospered like this because of the youths” said Tuju.
Ethnic tension in Rwanda is nothing new but they are on the recovery process, Kenya mirrors a same history of ethnic tension, a good example what happened in the 2007 disputed elections.
In 1994, the ethnic tensions started in Rwanda and Military and militia groups began rounding up and killing Tutsis in masses which spread all over the country.
However, now The Hutu-Tutsi relations in Rwanda today is that of a brother to another. “the ethnic differences is all behind us we are all Rwandans” said Gilbert Mucharama, our tour guide in the trip.
He adds that there is no more mention of the Hutus and Tutsi’s in Rwandans and even its risky calling one by which ethnic group that they belong to.
“Even calling one a Tutsi or a Hutu is a risk as you can face to 3 years in prison just for that identification” he tells me.
The only identification that one would know one is a Tutsi is they are tallerr, slender while the Hutus are a bit plumpy and shorter as compared to the Tutsis.
“The ethnic differences is what caused this country to crumble down into peaces, we have learnti don’t think we want to go back to where we were 16 years ago” said Gilbert.
Ethnic tensions in Kenya mirrors a similar situation but if we could learn from Rwanda after the genocide this is one such lesson
Also as Kenya is in the process of trying the perpetrators of the 2007 post election violence, we could follow suit and form a local tribunal to try out some of the perpetrators.
In Kenya who have opted for the ICC as compared to local tribunal has generated lots of debate, however the Rwandese believe that they could have opted for that much earlier.
With debates as Kenya doubts its own judicial system, it could follow suit and form a system which will try the perpetrators
As a result, the Rwandan government has turned to a traditional system of justice known as "gacaca" to relieve the burden on prisons and courts. Gacaca hearings are traditionally held outdoors (the word loosely translates as "justice on the grass"), with household heads serving as judges in the resolution of community disputes. The system is based on voluntary confessions and apologies by wrongdoers.
With Over 250,000 community members trained to serve in panels of 19 judges in gacaca courts all over Rwanda. The tribunals will operate in several stages, first identifying victims, then suspects - and finally holding trials.
According to denis Wahawayo, teh Director of the Gacaca court said taht it has been a process and more people have been tried with this court.
“ here the local residents will give testimony for and against the suspects, who will be tried in the communities where they are accused of committing crimes.” Said Dennis

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