On the 8th July it had been exactly 2 years since I arrived in Rwanda, so I think a short retrospective is in order.
It took me a long time to settle in here. When I arrived the culture, the political system and the country were opaque and almost impossible to understand. After about 6 months I felt that I at least understood how the "machinery" of the Rwandan government, society and economy worked. It took about a year for me to feel at ease with the people and come to love the country.
Rwanda is a unique place. From a state of collective trauma, the country is helping itself to emerge as an efficient and confident state. The post-genocide phase was a success. But as much as Rwanda inspires hope, it also causes dismay. There is little self-criticism, little open debate of the country's problems and much self-denial. The post-genocide phase was indeed a success, but the next phase in the country's development is overdue. Rwandans needs to accept that like any other country, Rwanda has problems; Like any other country, Rwanda has corrupt politicians; Like any other country, Rwanda's justice system is flawed; Like any other country, Rwanda has problems with racism; Like any other country, Rwanda has disadvantaged minorities, be they social, sexual or ethnic. Rwanda needs to match its political and economic courage, with social courage.
What luck for Rwanda that it has a small but growing number of hard working, well-educated and forward-thinking people. How unfortunate that the Rwandese culture is so unwelcoming to outsiders. It is easy to judge when a Rwandese begins to trust you: he/she will tell you the problems that every Rwandese knows his country has, his real opinion about the government, the real view about the genocide, will stop lying about minor personal facts, and if he/she really trusts you, you may just be invited to there home one day. Unfortunately, that kind of trust is rarely there. But perhaps, that is simply because it needs to be earned first.
Rwanda is certainly one of the most beautiful, fascinating and unusual countries that I will ever live in. I hope it realises its potential.