Jocelyn Mizero Featured in StandUp – The Social Justice Blog of Lafayette College
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Post-Genocide Rwanda–Jocelyn Mizero
Rwanda is a small landlocked country in East Africa. Rwanda is also known as the “Country of a Thousand Hills” because of its green and mountainous landscape. In 1994, Rwanda had a genocide that killed around 800,000 people in a matter of 100 days. As part of the Rwandan Genocide Commemoration week (April 7th to April 14th), I am coming up with 5 Things You Didn’t Know about Post-Genocide Rwanda. I want the Lafayette Community to recognize that there is more to Rwanda than the Rwandan Genocide. For the 22nd Genocide Commemoration, Rwandans across the globe are celebrating Rwanda’s progress and its arduous road to reconciliation and reconstruction. Here are our 5 biggest achievements I think you should know about:
- Rwanda was ranked as the 5th safest country in the world by the Gallup Global Law and Order 2015 Report with a score of 85 – behind Singapore, Hong Kong, Norway and Spain. I am very proud of this, because within the two years that I have been in the U.S., I have encountered concerned friends and parents who asked whether my family was safe and if they were doing okay. People walk the streets safely in the middle of the day and at night, which you will not find in many African Countries.
- Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, is the cleanest city in Africa. Rwanda banned plastic bags in 2008. While you will find mountains of garbage in our neighboring countries, Rwanda’s streets are clean. Every citizen contributes to this cleanliness. Every last Saturday of the month, from 8 am to 11 am, citizens ranging between the ages of 18 to 65 years come together for a compulsory community service called Umuganda. Umuganda in Kinyarwanda (the language spoken in Rwanda) means coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome. This is a traditional concept of calling on all family members, friends, and neighbors to get a difficult task completed. This concept was utilized by the government to bring a torn country together to reconstruct itself.
- Rwanda ranks number 1 in the world with the highest number of women in national parliaments. 63.8% of the Rwandan Parliament are women. Before the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, the parliament was made up of only 18% of women at most. The 2003 Rwandan constitution provides for a minimum 30 per cent quota for women in all decision-making organs.
- 90.6% of the Rwandan population is enrolled in the national health insurance system called Mutuelle de Sante. This community-based health insurance system was implemented in 1999, and has made tremendous impacts to the health of all Rwandans. This insurance is accepted at all health centers and accepted at some big hospitals in the country. This system is organized on a household basis, where it costs approximately $2 per family member annually. There is an additional 10% service fee paid up front at every visit to the hospital. Two decades after the genocide, the life expectancy has doubled up to 65 years.
- Rwanda has one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. Its GDP growth rate since 2003 is 7% – 8%. According to McKinsey 7 Company’s report, Rwanda is ranked the 6th country in the world with the fastest growing economy. Rwanda’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased from 4.7% in 2013 to 7.0% in 2014. World Bank’s annual “Doing Business 2016” puts Rwanda as the 2nd easiest country in Africa to do business with in Sub-Saharan Africa, and first in Eastern Africa.
So believe me when I say that I am proudly Rwandan. I have lived to see Rwanda rise like a phoenix, and the credit of this goes to every citizen who refused to accept that Rwanda was no more after the Genocide, and fought very hard to reconstruct our motherland. For the 22nd Genocide Commemoration week, I remember the innocent lives of Rwandans that were lost during the genocide, but I am also very proud of all we have accomplished. We learned that “together we stand and divided we fall” and this is the most important lesson the world and the U.S. should learn from Rwanda.
*Come out to the Post-Genocide Rwanda: The Road To Reconciliation and Reconstruction talk on Thursday April 14th from 4:15-6pm in Limburg Theatre to hear from fellow Rwandan Students, as well as from a panel of professors.
Written By Jocelyn Mizero ’18
Edited by Karla Talley