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Kagame still praises the controversial success of Gacaca courts and the Girinka scheme

Here is part of Kagame’s address to the Oxbridge Club in Nigeria, relating to Gacaca and Girinka. A PR tour to lure foreigners into believing that these schemes are a success! He knows that very few will read the numerous reports pointing to the contrary.

In the last two decades, Africa has begun to move again and entered a new phase. We are no longer looking to the outside for solutions to internal issues because home-grown ideas provide the answer, not only for development but also for the restoration of our dignity. That means change because the status quo has proved unsatisfactory.

Now, change of any sort is a journey into the unknown and unacceptable conditions alone do not provide enough drive to venture there. And yet anyone driving change should bring along all the people with them. Using practices and beliefs that people identify with can help remove the fear and make them embrace the change, own and even build on it

The collected, accumulated wisdom resulting from both culture andparticipation has the effect of making people shareholders in the enterprise that is their country. As you all know, shareholders want and expect good dividends.

This is the source of home-grown ideas. They emanate from what the people collectively know and practice, and their power to drive change comes from this fact.

Of course, those who have always treated us as followers rather than leaders in our own right will want to halt the development of such home-grown ideas. Some will do so out of sheer ignorance. More often than not, however, they will disrupt us with subversive intent.

But this cannot deter us because as we all know, success built on internally-generated ideas breeds confidence and fosters dignity.

Let me illustrate with the practical experience of Rwanda. In Rwanda we have consciously drawn from our history and culture ideas to drive our social, political and economic development for the simple reason that they work.

In the aftermath of the genocide in 1994, Rwanda was faced with a huge problem.

Considering the large number of perpetrators, the need to give victims justice as well as restore social harmony, conventional political and justice systems were totally inadequate for the task. So we opted for Gacaca, a traditional conflict resolution mechanism, which in a decade tried close to two million cases at a cost of less than one billion US dollars compared to only sixty cases tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda costing about two billion dollars.

But the significance of Gacaca goes beyond numbers of cases and their cost. Because it was the first home-grown solution successfully applied to a seemingly intractable problem, it inspired and empowered Rwandans to seek and use similar initiatives for broader national development.

Its success catalysed the generation of ideas and values crucial to national development – resilience, self-reliance, confidence and social cohesion. Most important, it restored Rwandans’ dignity and pride in our cultural values as a source of remedies to current challenges, innovation and approaches to development.

Similarly, the Government of Rwanda initiated the Girinka (one cow per poor household) programme adapted from the traditional Rwandan solidarity practice of giving each other a cow as a pact of friendship and support in the event of misfortune or dire need. In its modern application, Girinka addresses several issues at once – improved nutrition, income generation and increased agricultural productivity.

This initiative, together with other poverty-reduction measures, has contributed to the reduction of poverty by 12%, from 56.9% to 44.9% between 2005 and 2010 and raised one million people or 10% of the population out of poverty.

Paul Kagame fails to mention that most Rwandans and informed analysts consider those schemes as as a failure.

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2 comments

1 Jonny Rubin from Paris, Île-de-France, France { 11.17.12 at 4:18 pm }

Having spoken to some people in Rwanda about these two programs, Gacaca and Girinka, I believe that they are working well. The judicial expenditure is cut down and the people are very happy with the ownership of a cow per household. Girinka has actually given the people such pride that they feel they cannot do without it. I wish to hear the views of those opposed to these programs.

2 Doug Dunn from Australia { 11.18.12 at 7:47 am }

All schemes have plus and minus. Gacaca is no different, but on balance has been largely successful in clearing the large number of genocide cases. Girinka, I know of no downside.

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