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Unfortunately Africa is often associated with words with negative connotations: corruption, aids, donor fatigue, genocide, bad governance, colonialism, malaria, slavery, famine, poverty, civil wars, blood diamonds, et cetera.

A trillion dollar of aid has not raised the continent out of poverty. A corrupt leader like Mugabe has changed a country from a breadbasket of a region to a basket case. Rwanda experienced a horrific genocide in 1994 where up to one million people were killed in about 100 days. The negative examples above do not fully or fairly reflect Africa as a whole. Many African countries are now experiencing economic growth, peace and reconciliation, and there are increasing foreign investments, and so forth.

But sub-Saharan Africa is still lagging behind in many ways, especially when one compares with Asian countries. Singapore was transformed from a poor swampland to one of the most prosperous countries in the world in about 50 years. Can such a thing happen in Africa?

I visited Rwanda last week and I venture to say that Rwanda is growing to become a beacon of hope for Africa and the world. Today Rwanda is one of the safest, least corrupt and most progressive nations in Africa. Only 17 years ago the country was devastated through the genocide.**

Let me share a few brief observations on what I believe are some essential contributing factors to the transformation of Rwanda. For the Western mindset let me give you a few bullet points first and then a few glimpses to illustrate those:

  1. God is at work
  2. Visionary leadership serving with integrity and professionalism
  3. Unity and reconciliation process rebuilding the social fabric
  4. The development of a 21st century infrastructure
  5. The creation of an environment conducive for business development in a globalised world

The genocide was evil beyond human comprehension. One cannot even try to explain it without recognizing the evil forces which are beyond our secular horizons. Likewise we cannot fully appreciate the transformation of the nation, the unity and reconciliation processes, unless we acknowledge God at work.

But we also need to recognize the importance of good leadership; people with vision, integrity and professionalism. No one is perfect but President Kagame has served the nation well.

I met with so many unusually gifted leaders – African and others – who are serving the people of Rwanda. Bishop John Rucyahana was one of them. One may liken him to Desmund Tutu of South Africa. A must read is the book “The Bishop of Rwanda”. I also met his successor Bishop Mbanda who also is a “larger-than-life-kind-of-person”.

Bishop John, some American friends and I talked about how to rebuild the social fabric in a society so devastated by mass killings. Bishop John has led the work of unity and reconciliation, which is a key to the resurrection of the nation. We need to be mindful of the lack of such processes between peoples in other countries and regions, like in the Balkans, where hatred has been passed on from generation to generation for over 600 years.

The leadership of Rwanda is also aware of that you can only build a nation for the future if you set the parameters for a functional market place and link it to today’s global world. I had mobile phone coverage all over the country. Wireless internet is widely available. The government is working on broadband infrastructure to all corners of the nation. Mobile phones help rich and poor alike to improve their lives and further economic activities.

Rwanda is also proactively working on property rights which are essential for business development. One can register a business online one the same day. Business development is more encouraged than aid and NGOs. We also visited a growing bank based on Christian values. Please click here to learn more about our visit, the bank and some other entrepreneurial people involved for Rwanda.

Our hosts in Rwanda were Dale Dawson and Tom Allen of Bridge2Rwanda. Please check their website Bridge2Rwanda. I warmly recommend this very informative and challenging video clip, about 9 minutes long.

** I wrote about the genocide and the complicity of the church in a previous blog: From church planting success to genocide


10 Responses to “Rwanda: The Death and Resurrection of a Nation”

  1. prashanth prasad says:

    Great article, could you also specify as to how the country dealt/is dealing with its muslim population, also like to know the % of muslims in this nation.

  2. Tun says:

    Mats, I am greatly encouraged by this! The Lord’s faithfulness continues to shine through the dark despondent cloud of man’s desperation to give hope. – tun –

  3. Jennifer Kamari says:

    Jennifer put my on to your blog post. Jen and I go way back in IT. My husband I are missionarys here in Rwanda. THANK YOU for such a positive blog on Rwanda. This is one of the few articles that I have read about Rwanda that represents Rwanda well. Mostly I am SO frustrated and angered by Westerners imposing their thoughts from afar with little to no understanding of what it like to live in or lead a country on a journey out of genocide. Thank you for taking the time to come to Rwanda and taking the time to write… blessings

  4. A very encouraging text, paraphrasing Isaiah 9:2: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.”

  5. Sara says:

    Thank you for spotlighting the work of the Lord in Rwanda, and the vessels and means that God has used.

  6. Thanks, Matt, for sharing the good news easily lost in the barrage of negative stories on corruption, civil war, and famine. Working in Rwanda soon after the genocide, I was overwhelmed with the great need—but today Rwanda has been transformed by Christ-centered leaders like Jeffrey Lee. Thank you for visiting! See Sketches from a savings circle (http://tinyurl.com/3hys7a5) for other stories of transformation through church-based economic development in Rwanda.

  7. […] http://www.matstunehag.com/2011/11/01/rwanda-the-death-and-resurrection-of-a-nation/ Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← Surrender […]

  8. Tobias Lundgren says:

    Mats, thanks for this insightful article highlighting an important story. The transformation that we are seeing in Rwanda is proof that this is Africa’s century. I hope other African country’s can borrow a leaf.

  9. Reuben says:

    Thanks for sharing the great testimony Mr.Mats Tunehag. Rwanda came from far and what you saw are only works of the Almighty. God heard the prayers of Rwandese when together with our sisters and brothers in Christ all over the world cried to God for help; – many great things were prophesied about Rwanda and what you saw are only the beginning of manifestations, greater things are yet to come….2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
    Psalm 27:13 “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”.

    May God bless you for your reflections in this article. Everyone on this blog is welcome to Rwanda.

  10. […] PS. See also previous article: Rwanda: The Death and Resurrection of a Nation […]

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