A mostly optimistic assessment of the small East African nation nearly destroyed by genocide during the first half of the 1990s.
Crisafulli and Redmond (co-authors: Comebacks: Powerful Lessons from Leaders Who Endured Setbacks and Recaptured Success on Their Terms, 2010) focus on the post-genocide presidency of Paul Kagame, a Rwandan native who grew up as an exile in Uganda and returned to his homeland as the leader of military rebels hoping to restore unity. Kagame is not portrayed as completely flawless, but nearly so. He earns accolades from the authors, who have traveled extensively in Rwanda, for helping to heal the nation after a million or more deaths due to hostility between the Hutus and the Tutsis. Crisafulli and Redmond depict Kagame running Rwanda more or less like the powerful, benevolent CEO of a major corporation. Improvements in poverty levels, education, health and electrification are impressive by any measure, although the country has a long way to go before the majority of its residents can be called prosperous. The authors suggest that an apt comparison can be found in South Korea, which developed quickly once its citizenry expressed the desire for change and identified appropriate leaders. This comparison would be more persuasive if the authors’ discussion of Rwandan development depended less on generalities. However, a few specific examples resonate strongly, such as the story of a Westerner who studied the coffee trade in Rwanda and found a way to increase exports while improving the lot of local coffee growers. According to Rwanda’s new constitution, Kagame must surrender the presidency after serving two electoral terms. The authors say they believe he will step aside peacefully in 2017 because of his love for the nation.
Despite an occasionally confusing narrative structure, the authors provide an instructive snapshot of Rwanda today.