Friday, February 25, 2011

Yann in Rwanda (13) - A Brief Snapshot on Politics

Even though Water for People needed French-speaking engineers, because it had been an official language in Rwanda since the Belgian mandate in the first part of the last century, English has been pushed by the government because after the genocide they had decided to join the English-speaking alliance of Eastern African countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi), and also because the current government had generally spent their youth in English-speaking Uganda before returning in the early 1990s in Rwanda to defeat the radical Hutu-led autocratic regime.

This decision has also other ramifications (intended or not), such as going over the country’s past and preparing them for the global economy.  By keeping both French and English languages, the country would also become the trading partner of most of Africa (Western Africa speaks French).  However, it appears that French teaching in primary and secondary schools has actually been abandoned in the last couple of years to be replaced with English only unfortunately, so the workforce in 10-15 years would not be bilingual. 
Today I traveled to the District of Rulindo (Northeast of Kigali) to witness the election of the Mayor of the District through a long and complex, but highly democratic process (and diverse with 30% of the committees being represented by women).  The picture below shows the swearing in of one of the multiple committees who will vote in the mayoral election.  The elected Mayor (pictured with WFP’s in-country staff coordinator Perp├ętue Kamuyumbu, and WFP’s World Water Corps team lead Monica Brown) has already built ties with Water for People, so the “Rulindo Challenge” (see WFP’s website for more info on this project, Rulindo Challenge) will continue to have strong political support.

The Rwandan flag (show below) was adopted in 2001 (and replaces the earlier one of 1961).  The green stripe represents the natural resources and prosperity of the country.  The yellow stripe stands for the country's mineral wealth and economic development.  The blue stripe is symbolic of happiness and peace. The sun and its rays represent unity, transparency and enlightenment from ignorance.

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