Central Africa

Rwanda

Rwanda is a republic in Central Africa bordering Uganda in the north, Tanzania in the east, Burundi in the south and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the west.

The population consists of hutus, tutsis and twee, but it is debated whether hutus and tutsis are different peoples.

Rwanda was a kingdom ruled by an aristocracy of Tutsis. In 1890, Rwanda became part of German East Africa, together with Tanzania and Burundi. After World War I, the area was put under Belgian administration.

The country became independent in 1962. In 1994, conflict between Hutus and Tutsis led to a genocide, killing between 800,000 and one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus. In the years following the genocide, Rwanda participated in two wars in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. At the same time, the country started a rapid modernization under President Paul Kagame.

The name comes from the kingdom of Rwanda.

On December 31, 2001, Rwanda introduced a new national anthem and a new flag, replacing the national anthem and the flag from the liberation in 1962. The new flag is blue, yellow and green, which symbolize peace, prosperity and work respectively. In the upper right corner, the flag has a sun, which symbolizes new hope. The new national song is Rwanda Nziza (“Beautiful Rwanda”). At the same time, the country introduced a new coat of arms.

The national motto is “Ubumwe, Umurimo, Gukunda Igihugu”, which means “Unity, work, patriotism”.

People and society

According to countryaah.com, Rwanda has 12.3 million inhabitants and is the most densely populated country on the African continent. The population consists of Hutus, Tutsis and Twee.

Following the 1994 genocide, the government has pursued a policy that seeks to erase ethnic differences. It is debated whether Hutus and Tutsis are different peoples. Traditionally, the Hutu have been cattle owners, while the Hutu have been farming. The stereotypical fabrication is that hutus are low, have flat noses and wide lips, while the Tutsis are tall and slender, have pointed noses and narrow lips.

Genetic studies show that Tutsis have a larger genetic trait from Nilosaharic people (14.9 percent) than Hutus (4.3 percent), which in practice makes it impossible to claim that they are different peoples. Hutus and Tutsis speak the same language.

Rwanda has three official languages, Rwanda, which is in practice universally widespread, French (6.3 percent) and English (0.1 percent).

19.1 percent of the population lives in cities. The capital Kigali is the largest city, with 900,000 inhabitants. The major religions are Catholicism (19.5 percent), Protestantism (12.2 percent), other Christian sects (4.5 percent) and Islam (1.8 percent).

State and politics

Rwanda is a republic, with the president as head of state. The President is elected every seven years and appoints all members of the government, including the Prime Minister. The president is also the leader of the armed forces. Paul Kagame took over as president when his predecessor Pasteur Bizimungu resigned in 2000. He was re-elected in 2003 and 2010.

Parliament is the legislative assembly and has two chambers. The House of Representatives has 80 representatives, who sit for five years. 53 representatives are elected, while 24 seats are reserved for women, who are appointed by local government. Three places are reserved for young and disabled.

The Senate has 26 members, appointed by various institutions, for periods of eight years. 30 percent of senators must be women. Rwanda is the country in the world with the highest proportion of women in parliament; 63.8 percent in the House of Representatives and 38.5 percent in the Senate.

According to the Constitution, Rwanda has an independent judiciary. The courts are divided into two groups, ordinary courts and specialized courts. The ordinary ones consist of a Supreme Court, a High Court and regional courts. The specialists are military courts and traditional gacaca courts, which are used to bring people suspected of genocide to justice.

Although Rwanda has a democratic constitution, President Kagame has been widely criticized for his authoritarian leadership, and in reality democracy is limited. Kagame’s party Rwandan Patriotic Front has dominated politics since 1994, and regularly receives support of over 70 percent in elections. A number of opposition politicians have been arrested and the media is carrying out extensive self-censorship. According to the Constitution, political organizations based on race, ethnicity, tribe, clan, region, gender, religion or other factors that can contribute to discrimination are prohibited.

Rwanda is a member of the UN and most of the UN’s special organizations, including the World Bank, by the way, including the World Trade Organization, the African Union and the Cotonou Agreement (formerly the Lomé Convention).

From Rwanda's capital Kigali

Economy and business

90 percent of the population work in the agricultural sector, most with self-storage farms. The main export goods are coffee and tea. Otherwise, Rwanda has mineral deposits, mainly tin and coltan. Natural resources from the Democratic Republic of Congo are also being re-exported from Rwanda.

President Kagame has implemented a number of measures to modernize the economy, including in cooperation with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The government has expanded infrastructure, launched a comprehensive privatization program and implemented measures to strengthen the secondary and tertiary industries.

Gross domestic product ( GDP ) was $ 7.622 billion in 2013. From 2007 to 2012, Rwanda had annual economic growth of over eight percent. Rwanda also boasts of being the least corrupt country in the region. On Transparency International ‘s Corruption Perception Index, Rwanda is number 49 out of 75 countries (2013).

Tea harvesting in Rwanda

Knowledge and culture

All students are required to complete a six-year elementary school and three years of lower secondary school. The school is free. Yet, on average, Rwandans complete only 3.3 years of schooling. The National University of Rwanda is the only public university in the country. In addition, there are several specialized colleges and private educational institutions. 71 per cent of the population over the age of 15 can read and write (2009).

All major radio and TV channels are state-owned. Radio is the medium most people have access to, while television and newspapers have a limited audience in the cities. The independent media is carefully controlled and has extensive self-censorship to avoid reprisals. In 2012, 212 journalists were imprisoned and 17 journalists have been killed since 1992, according to the organization Committee for Protect Journalists.

Rwanda is known for its unique art imigongo, made from cow dung mixed with soil. Cowhide kitchen is laid in wooden shapes and shaped into geometric patterns. Then the patterns are colored with clear colors, often in red, blue, white and black. Crafts are also widespread, such as woven baskets, ceramics and wood carvings.

Music and dance are central to Rwandan culture. Drums are the most important instrument. Some local Rwandan pop music and hip hop are also produced.

Rwanda has an oral storytelling tradition, and talented storytellers have a high status in society. Very little literature has been written in Rwanda, but some books have been published in French. The late historian, theologian, philosopher and poet Alexis Kagame is the country’s most famous author. Among other things, he has compiled much of the country’s oral history in book form.

Music in Rwanda

The three main folk groups’ music traditions make the music life richly varied. The Tutsi music has elements of Arabic influence, while the two music stands out clearly with the use of jodel technique and rich vocal polyphony, as with other pygmy people. Vocal music plays a prominent role. The instrumental includes various whistles, side-blown horns, drums, tray-zither, single-string fiddle, musical arc, likembe (thumb piano) and rattles. Larger ensembles, formerly associated with chieftains, perform at larger festivities.