Rwanda is Not East Africa

2008 > Rwanda

No matter how much they want to be

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Flights of Rwandair fancy
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Free Rose Kabuye!
Many people have put forth the proposition that Rwanda is in East Africa. From high level agreements like COMESA down to the perceptions of East Africans, there is the feeling that Rwanda should be seen in the same light as Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. I am here in Kigali to tell you they are all wrong.

Rwanda is not East Africa. And here are several reasons why:

Simplest, it’s a Francophone country, unlike Kenya and Uganda, Tanzania, which have strong British influences. French is the first language of many, and French culture shows through with more smokers in Kigali than all of Kenya and Uganda, and a return to right-side driving.

Next, unlike the others, Rwanda is a dollarized donor economy – at least 50% of all economic activity is directly related to the massive international development industry that is driving its growth. From the inflated taxi prices that would even make Nairobi taxi drivers blush, to procurement corruption that goes with stupid amounts of Western cash chasing incremental results.

Then, the country looks to itself or France before the rest of Europe or East Africa. One small, but telling aspect of inwardness is the inability of the ATM network to accept international bankcards. Every other African country has the capacity for international cash advances – even Nigeria and Togo! And then when people think of international travel, it’s to France before all others. No Ugandan would think Paris before London or New York.

Last but not least, I type this while all of Kigali is shut down for a protest. Regardless of the worthiness of the protest, I do not see Kenya or Uganda wasting a workday like this. Okay, maybe Kenya, but in Uganda they have too much to do to subject the entire capitol to a lost work day.

So the next time someone says that Rwanda is part of East Africa, ask why they think such nonsense. Rwanda is not East Africa. Not even close.

One Comment on “Rwanda is Not East Africa

  1. Sir Wayan! Remember I used to call you a Ugandan. There is a way you write your stuff and I just think Im reading a Ugandan’s stuff. What you have put down on Uganda,Kenya and Rwanda is the truth and only truth. Wyan,May God give you many,many,many children so that they can keep this world entertained when you finally go to visit the palace of God.
    Im proud to be one of your suscribers. You make me feel at home. I like the way you look at people and even if they dont talk to you,you just know what they are up to and what kind of lives they live. Remember how we met,you just have those smiles that invite people to be free with you. I tried to ignore this white man in old flat open shoes but he ws too sweet to ignore. Then the way you observed our ”traffic”lights[as if they existed],and the way drivers were controlling themselves where there was not traffic officer,early in the morning! Oh God! But Wayan you have to remember that its like computers. My president warned companies not to import many computers because they’d ‘kill’ the jobs of his educated young citizens. The computer does lots of work that would have been done by five people. It uses power,reduces employment,etc,etc . The same thing with our traffic. If the city installs all traffic lights and the stuff,the traffic police officer wont get employed. Then what will happen to his family,his children’s school fees,etc,etc.
    So Wayan,I loved the way you looked at the whole situation as if you were one of us. Unfortunately,I left you before I got much fun from your observations but never the less Im still with you. You need to bring that sweet little bundle for traditional rites back home[Your home Uganda].Ha!Ha! She needs to grow up as a woman who will respect her husband as the head of a family but not an equal.Alright? Wake up early and prepare breakfast for her beloved husband,not vice versa or nothing at all!![The black Auntie has spoken]! Ha! Ha!Thanks very much Wayan.