The myths about Rwanda’s youth

Team members of Imagine We Rwanda and Inkstain at a recent comedy event

The myths about Rwanda’s youth

I have only been back in Rwanda for six months after almost six years of being one of the world’s weirdest nomad. Of course with social media, we tends to have very inaccurate images of our mamaland. I have heard the best and the worst about Rwanda’s youth but I really couldnt wait to just make my own judgments! So here I am back home and trying to have my good share of participation in the development of Rwanda.

So let me elaborate on the myths I heard of while I was wandering in this world.

Myth Number 1: Young Rwandans are lazy

Wrong! Of course there are some lazy human beings in every country of the world. But generalizing this behavior to all Rwandans is just very, very wrong! I have been working in Rwanda for five months now, and I have met some hardworking entrepreneurs. Can I emphasize that they are all under thirty?

I mean, I have met interior designers, computer engineers, graphic designers, illustrators, fashion designers you name it! I am amazed by the fact that these young men and women decided to pursue their dream and took the necessary risks to become as successful as they are today. And that is amazing!

My friend Dolph, who is a multitasker (read umu-TT), is just a workaholic. I worry that he doesn’t even sleep.

Rwanda is being built by these young men and women who spend restless nights to bring their best to the country. They do not only strive for success but they are addicted to it. And they are definitely challenging that myth!

Young Rwandans are not lazy. And if you fall under the lazy category, please move out of there!

Myth Number 2: Rwandans are just not creative at all

I have to admit that I used to fall for this myth when I was wandering across the earth. Rwandans are not creative, they imitate what others do, they blah blah blah… Of course, I am ashamed to say that I once believed this! And I am so glad that I was proved wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong!

I am blessed to be surrounded by creative young minds. Sometimes they make me feel like I am the worthless lazy, uncreative bum!

Just yesterday, I was talking to the manager of an interior and product design firm. I had so many questions that he probably thought I was investigating (Girl, you are crossing the borders!) Anyway, he was telling me about how he was about to open up yet another company because the business is growing and it is promising.

Of course, you might disagree with me, there is still much to be learned. But, these are young people taking the risks and seizing opportunities by the neck!

The hardest thing I have learned in life is taking risks. We all love the comfort of our comfort zones. Yet, here in Rwanda, there are young people moving earth and sky to leave their mark on Rwanda.

Myth Number 3: Young Rwandans are just not professional

Uh, really? Are you sure? This myth is one that has been spread so much that it is easier to believe in it than to even try refuting it. But I like a challenge so let me just go ahead and refute it! Yes, big yes, young Rwandans are professional and are getting even more and more professional.

Have you ever heard of organisations such as the Peace and Love Proclaimers (PLP), HeHe Labs, Live Again Rwanda, Inkstain, or Ejo Group  the list goes on. Seriously, if you haven’t please do check them out and spend ten minutes with them; you’ll see what I mean.

Professionalism is one of the key ingredients to success. Can we agree on this? It involves the ability to have a clear vision of what an organisation needs to portray and also where it needs to go. It involves having the right skills and expertise to move an idea forward! How about that?

Do I think that the Rwandan youth has the above? Yes, I certainly do! If Rwanda is growing, it is definitely because there is some amount of professionalism. And, yes, thank you!

I strongly believe in our youth today. I am so proud of what we are doing and what we desire to build for our country! I also believe that Rwanda is the country of a thousand opportunities and the smart ones will enjoy the fruit of the land!

Rwanda’s Ministry of Youth and ICT wins continental social media award

The Ministry of Youth and ICT (MYICT) won the continental social media award in the category of Government/Public Sector for the annual Social Media Awards Africa (SMAA), a premier continental initiative poised to recognise and reward excellence, creativity and impact in the use of social media tools and platforms by individuals and organisations.

— Social Media Awards (@sma_africa) January 24, 2015

The event held in Lagos on Sunday, 25 January 2015, brought together social media influencers, experts, enthusiasts and policy makers that would explore and forge new developmental paths for Africa.

This follows the closure of the voting window for the continent-wide initiative on social media development across Africa last December. SMAA is a premier continental initiative, which seeks to recognise and reward creativity, excellence and impact in the usage of social media across Africa.

Commenting on the award, the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Youth and ICT, Emmanuel Habumuremyi noted that the Ministry embraced the use of social media through all networks including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Flickr to be able to engage with the general public, especially young people and ICT players.

Mr. Habumuremyi stressed that MYICT embraced social media to interact but also disseminate information; and it has become such an essential tool of communication that is essential avenue to receiving feedback from the stakeholders.

The Twitter account of the ministry, @MyictRwanda, was created in January 2012 and has since attracted over 12,700 followers.

Later last year, the MYCT launched the YouthConnekt Hangout, which serves as a  platform for the youth to discuss with decision makers and opinion leaders.

Using Google+ and other networks, YouthConnekt Hangout broadcasts twice a month discussions on several topics, including youth empowerment, raising capital, role of young people in development, as well as achieving lasting peace.

The Social Media Awards Africa is an annual gathering of business leaders, social media experts and influencers, development experts and other relevant stakeholders who are positioned to promote development in Africa through digital and social media exploration.

SMAA produced 15 awardees out of 43 finalists who emerged through a rigorous screening process from 923 nominations from over 26 African countries across Africa.

What is wrong with Miss Rwanda contest?

Miss Rwanda 2012 contestants pose in bikini during a photo session at Gisenyi Serena Hotel

What is wrong with Miss Rwanda contest?

Last year, during the Miss Rwanda competitions, my sister woke me up and showed me a video of one of the contestants answering a question she had been asked by one of the judges. This contestant’s answer caught fire on social media because of the extremely broken French in which she (barely) expressed herself. I will just go ahead and admit that I laughed uncontrollably and even shared the video with a couple other friends whom I knew would enjoy a good dose of linguistic humor.

This year, as we get ready for another shot at electing the ONE worthy girl who will represent us Rwandans, not only nationally but also internationally, no wonder social media is already swarming with criticism around this competition.

There are many players at stake here. Contestants, institutions and organizers are at the top of my list. Since my cell phone was about to burst with twitter notification around the question of mockery of the contestants, it is only fit that I address this point before anything else.

I disapprove of any remarks that seek to hurt or attack the contestants on a personal level. This means anything from calling them names, to adding on to what they actually said, or even taking out of context some of the things they say.

Language is one hot topic when it comes to this issue, and there are a couple of things that we need to understand about this. First of all, if you are able to detect all of their mistakes in French or English, it is important that you understand the privilege that allows you to be able to express yourself in foreign languages as well as you do. On that note, we all know that we were not all exposed to the same resources, and therefore cannot be held to the same standards when it comes to using those languages.

Secondly, there is the lack of formulating a sound argument or making an informed and clear statement. This also lies, partly, in the limitations in languages. However, there are many people who went to supposedly some of the best schools who are not able to express themselves eloquently. Therefore, this could just be the lack of this specific skill.

What I think is the issue at the core is that the institutions and people in charge of Miss Rwanda elections do not know what they are looking for, or at least do not understand what Miss Rwanda’s role would be. In my opinion, last year, this process died at the recruiting stage. This year does not look promising either considering what we have already seen.

I fully recognize and admire the courage of the contestants, but it goes without saying that they might not have been advised as to what the position requires. Unfortunately, not everyone has critical people who will challenge them into recognizing their strengths and their weaknesses. They might truly believe that they are beautiful and brainy, (which in my opinion, should be the requirements for Miss Rwanda) but it is the responsibility of the recruiters to set standards and determine the minimum necessary skills for a contestant. For some of these contestants to have even endured the ridicule of the public, is, for the most part, the organizer’s fault. There are many qualified ladies who could assume this position, but there is very little incentive for these individuals to participate due to the poor organizing and previous outcomes of this competition. There is no specified role for Miss Rwanda and their responsibilities are almost nonexistent. If these things exist, the general public is unaware of them, and therefore have very little understanding of this program. No wonder this would be demoralizing for any intelligent person, who also happens to be beautiful.

I couldn’t possibly not address that our education system needs a wake up call (actually a reminder of all of the other wake up calls.) It is scary to me that someone is able to finish and graduate from 12 to 15 years of school, after studying in one language, eight hours a day, five days a week, and still not be able to formulate a sentence in that language.

So here are my thoughts in a more concise form:

  • Personal attacks toward contestants are hurtful and unnecessary;
  • Languages are a privilege; so making fun of those who do not have that privilege is immature;
  • Not everyone is lucky to be told the truth about their limitations and areas of growth and betterment;
  • Our education system has horribly failed if someone can go to school and study in one language for 12 years and still not be able to formulate a correct sentence in that language;
  • The organizing team has no sense of what or who Miss Rwanda should be or what she should represent.

On that note, here is what I think is important that we do. Laughing at the contestants will for sure raise awareness about the deeper underlying issues with this contest, but not having any conversation beyond that is just as ridiculous. Without any constructive criticism about how the responsible institutions and organizers can make it better, these will only be shallow useless venting sessions that will yield no positive outcome. We need to question the reasons why we are electing Miss Rwanda, what she represents and how she will represent us all. After figuring that out, we can then proceed to setting standards and opening up the contest to those who qualify. After they have been elected, we need to see concrete ways in which Miss Rwanda is benefiting the advancement of our society and participating to our development. We need something more substantial than the fact that a girl with the perfect height and weight will be getting a car and a year worth subscription to free SULFO products.

Rwanda Stock Exchange to teach police on company law

The Rwanda Stock Exchange is hosting a series of sessions with the Rwanda police fraternity, sensitising them on trading shares, and investment in bonds and equities. This is in line with the police understanding company law and gaining knowledge on an individual level on areas in the stock market that prove lucrative. According to the National Police College advisor, these trainings are meant to help nurture a more business-oriented mindset among the police fraternity. CNBC Africa investigates.

25 selected across the country to compete for Miss Rwanda finals

We now know who will be competing at the pre-selection of the finalists of Miss Rwanda 2015. Organisers and judges have toured Rwandas four provinces and the City of Kigali over the last few weeks to select pre-finalists.

They are all 25 and will be lining up at Serena Hotel on Wednesday, 7 February 2015.

Here is a full list:

Northern Province

  1. Florence Asifiwe
  2. Dorine Kundwa
  3. Yvette RUbazinda
  4. Colomber Uwase
  5. Amanda Melissa Uwase

Western Province

  1. Venessa Mogazi
  2. Flora Mutoniwase
  3. Sabrina Ihozo Kalisi
  4. Darlene Gasana
  5. Colombe Umutoniwase

Southern Province

  1. Joannah Keza Bagwire
  2. Belinda Mukunde
  3. Divine Ingabire
  4. Joelle Ruzigana Giriwanyu
  5. Angel Fortunate

Eastern Province

  1. Linker Akacu
  2. Balbine Mutoni
  3. Nadette Umuhoza
  4. Fiona Mutoni Naringwa
  5. Ariane Uwimana

City of Kigali

  1. Belyse Hitayezu
  2. Jane Mutoni
  3. Vanessa Raissa Uwase
  4. Negritta Rudasingwa Umuhoza
  5. Annick Lachance Nyiranganzo

New programme at the University of Rwanda to benefit women in agribusiness

The  University of Rwanda has teamed up with the Michigan State University to start a Master of Science degree programme aimed at helping women get a strong foothold in agribusiness. The programme will enroll its first cohort of students in February 2015.

According to news releases, the graduate programme prioritises accessibility to women and midcareer professionals and will incorporate extensive experiential learning opportunities for students. The structure of the programme requires all students to partake in an internship, thus better preparing them for leadership and entrepreneurial roles in agriculture in Rwanda.

Emeritus Professor James McWha, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Rwanda, said the programme is a major development of the future of the agriculture and food industries in the country:

Agriculture is vital to the people and economy of Rwanda and many of those involved in agriculture are women. Their input to the business of agriculture is essential. It is also important that agriculture adopts a modern business strategy because it is a business and all those involved must learn the relevant skills. This program brings together all the components necessary for a major development of the future of the agriculture and food industries in Rwanda.

The programme was jointly developed with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

For more on this story, read:

  1. University of Rwanda and USAID Launch Master of Science in Agribusiness Degree Program
  2. MSU, University of Rwanda launch agribusiness program in Rwanda

IATA delegation soon to head to Rwanda

When in two weeks’ time a delegation from IATA will be in Kigali to formally present RwandAir with their IOSA Certificate, which catapulted the airline into the global elite of safety audited airlines, guests from near and far will see a lot more than just the airline’s headquarters and operations. They will also see the “new” Kigali International Airport.

Rwanda may be a geographically smaller country, but it certainly has taken its place on the world scene and is by the general evaluation of many, using a pugilist term, punching well above its weight, and rightly so.

The Rwandan government has identified aviation as a key to economic success, being a landlocked country twice removed from the nearest deep sea ocean port of Mombasa, through which most of the imports and exports are routed. Tourism is the biggest foreign exchange earner and has been for several years, outpacing agriculture, the mining and the service industry, as Rwanda has also established itself as a regional ICT hub.

RwandAir and the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, both fall under the same home ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, and while clearly functioning independently of each other, as the regulator and the regulated should be, is a greater force at work here, superimposing national goals

Diversifying Rwanda’s Tourism Sector: Kigali’s Annual Dîner en Blanc

On August 10th 2014, the global phenomenon, Dîner en Blanc® took place at Acacia Gardens in Kagugu. Taking the pop-up, surprise concept to a refined level, these beautiful outdoor epicurean feasts are attended annually by as many as 15,000 people in cities around the world. After being the first African city to host this global event in 2012, this year marks Kigali’s 3rd official Dîner en Blanc®.

Globally, Dîner en Blanc® promotes friendship, elegance, and a sense of community amongst participants. In Rwanda, the annual event seeks to become part of the fabric of the country’s recently launched MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and events) tourism strategy. In May 2014, the Rwanda Development Board launched a new strategy for the tourism sector that will focus on the development of MICE tourism. The MICE strategy seeks to diversify the tourism sector in Rwanda by developing products and services for business and leisure travelers that will complement the country’s existing gorilla tourism, eco-tourism, and cultural and community based tourism.

Dîner en Blanc® Kigali is an annual event and this year, it attracted 585 participants. The event was attended by domestic tourists as well as participants from the region (Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, DRC, Ivory Coast, South Africa) and the world (Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Australia, the Netherlands, Oman, and the US). The event has made its mark not only by offering a unique tourism product, but especially by promoting local business such as restaurants, caterers, hotels, retailers, musicians, artists, designers, and tailors. Participating restaurants and catering services include Meze Fresh, Sole Luna, Indian Chef, Brioche, Mosaic, and Catertoo. The location of the pop—up picnic remained undisclosed until the day of the when pre-registered guests were transported from various bus points around Kigali to Acacia Gardens in Kagugu. In previous editions, the event was held in Gacuriro in 2012 and in Gishushu in 2013.

The 3rd edition of Dîner en Blanc® Kigali is presented by Illume Creative Studio, with the support of the Rwanda Development Board, the Ministry of Sports and Culture, and the Kigali City Council. This year’s event is proudly sponsored by Positive Productions, RwandAir, SORAS, KK Security, Mille Collines by Kempinsky, MTN Rwanda’s Mobile Money, and Akagera National Park. Further sponsorship was provided by Haute Baso, House of Tayo, Inzuki, Sonia Mugabo Designs, and Tsapa!.

Remake of Pharrell Williams Happy in Kigali takes off on You Tube

Over a thousand people and close to a dozen local groups participated in the making of the Rwandan remake of the hugely popular Happy music video by Pharrell Williams.

Kimberly Ross, who directed and produced the video for YouTube release, said,

We consider it more than just a cover of Pharrell Williams’ music video it’s an opportunity to show the world a side of Rwanda that defies the many stereotypes tainted by the country’s tragic history. Its a chance to showcase all the dynamic people and the positive vibes in Kigali today.

We hope that this video can be a catalyst for a broader discussion on the experience of people living in Kigali, as well as on the media’s portrayal of Rwanda and even Africa in general which all too often focuses on negative aspects of the past rather than its vibrant present and promising future.

Team Ethiopia jets in ahead of Tour Du Rwanda

Team Ethiopia is the first international team to arrive in the country ahead of the sixth edition of the 2014 Tour of Rwanda Cycling competition scheduled from 16-22 November.

Rwanda Cycling Team confirmed that the Ethiopian team has settled at the Africa Rising Cycling Center at Musanze for a period of three weeks for training, experience sharing and to get acclimatised to the weather conditions in Rwanda as well as tackle the routes ahead of the competition. Team Rwanda posted on its official website:

Thanks Team Ethiopia Cycling for joining us at Africa Rising Cycling Centre. Our first international team guests.

In their message to Team Rwanda, the Ethiopians wrote:

Many thanks to Jock Boyer and Kimberly Coats for letting us stay for three weeks in the Center, have every lodging, training even teaching us English language.