WHEN an opportunity to visit Rwanda arises, genocide immediately comes to mind.
Rwanda witnessed one of the worst genocide ever when one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered by the government of Juvénal Habyarimana in 1994.
Genocide was the last straw by the Hutu-led government who attempted to wipe out Tutsis.
Despite the chill that goes down the spinal cord when the thought of travelling to Rwanda comes, it yet becomes a learning point to go and see that country’s rising story.
It is amazing how Rwanda has put behind the genocide to become one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.
Paul Kagame’s inspirational leadership is the reason Rwanda has rebounded from an impoverished nation heading towards a prosperous middle income country.
Kagame and the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) have re-aligned the land-locked East African to a point of a new economic and social policy, focused on strategic investments.
At the core of Kagame’s leadership is the improvement of people’s livelihoods.
President Kagame’s leadership starts from the party which has disciplined cadres as I witnessed myself during the RPF’s international and national congresses.
The discipline I saw in Kigali is the one I am yet to see in my country as the cadres have respect for the party authorities and when it was time for meals, there was no scrambling.
I was also amazed to see how the RPF has branded its regalia. It is the kind any person would want to wear without shame.
The RPF, which has been observing 30 years anniversary, has its own convention centre on the outskirts of the capital, Kigali.
It also has its own anthem which the party members sing during their functions.
If there is anything I admired about the RPF cadres is discipline. The party stuck to the time table of events religiously.
During the short period I spent there last week, I observed how clean the streets of Kigali are.
To see liter in Kigali is a taboo because the Rwandans, under great leader Kagame have disciplined themselves. Maybe it is the reason it is impossible to hear cholera outbreaks there.
The Rwandas have set aside one-day in a month (for three hours) for community work (two hours) and hour to discuss matters arising in their communities.
It is during their meetings when they decide a project to dedicate their time to; either individually or collectively, such as repairing some neighbours houses, visiting nearby clinics or schools to appreciate challenges and brainstorm how to intervene.
The moment you land at Kigali International Airport and approach the check-in counters, you may think it is a police state.
Yes, you will find a police officer on every street in Kigali but that is designed to assure local people and visitors of their safety.
Kigali is one of the safest capital cities in Africa and you do not have to look at your back when walking either in the central business district or elsewhere.
You can walk at night without the slightest fear of being mugged or robbed.
Kigali’s streets are well lit and there is no loadshedding.
It could be one of the reasons why the Rwandan capital is slowly becoming the symbol of regional integration in Africa.
One of the success stories of Rwanda is its growing national airline, RwandAir, which has daily flights into Lusaka.
RwandAir, whose vision is to be the airline of obvious choice in the markets it serves, is promoting the continent’s economic development by facilitating trade and tourism flows in Rwanda and beyond.
The Rwanda government’s strategy to help Africans to cushion travel hurdles to travel and enhance connectivity between different countries on the continent and beyond is paying off.
RwandAir has grown its network to include Conakry (Guinea), Daka (Senegal) and Bamako (Mali) and has added Brussels (Belgium) and Guangzhou (China).
RwandAir has operates two hubs – Kigali and Cotonou in Benin.
The Cotonou hub has given the airline the right to base its operations outside its home base and operate between its seventh freedom base and a third country without returning to its country.
The launch of the Cotonou hubis helping RwandAir take air travel on the continent to the next level as it will be able to reach more countries in West and Central Africa with improved connections and more frequencies by providing air transportation for passengers and goods between and to Abidjan, Brazzaville, Douala, Libreville, Bamako, Dakar and Conakry.
RwandAir will continue its operations from Kigali to Cotonou and provide seamless access to East and Southern Africa, the Middle East and Asia to the joint airline.
This year, the ever growing network started flights to Mumbai, Harare, London (Gatwick) and Brussels apart from Guangzhou with plans to enter the American market with flights to New York, in the United States of America next year.
As Zambia plans to establish a national airline, we may learn from RwandAir.
If there is anything that is captivating about Kigali is its stunning hilly terrain, thus dubbed as the land of a thousand hills.
After my second visit to Rwanda last week (the first being in 2014 for the African Development Bank annual meetings), I have added Kigali to the list of my favourite capital cities in Africa after Lagos (Nigeria) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).
The author is editorials editor at the Zambia Daily Mail.
The Express News