Dear Readers, I am sorry its been awhile.
In last weekend's Saturday New York Times, a fascinating story on Rwanda appeared front page. Under the headline photo read "Hundreds of young adults and minors suspected of petty crimes have been rounded up and sent to an island in Lake Kivu." It later explains that those brought to the island in the middle of the huge western lake were being taught basic skills such a patriotic songs, marching, motorcycle maintenance, bricklaying and hairdressing. This is a classic social re-structuring format used in many pro-socialist African regimes, but in Rwanda, there are clearcut goals and clearcut problems.
The rebel buildup of genociders in Uganda and former-Zaire are a constant border problem. I myself was friends with the Lieutenant Colnel of the western RPF guard whose daily job it was to send guerilla patrols into the jungles in search for these militias. Rwanda is in constant need of trained military personnel and what better than a bootcamp for petty thieves and young male citizens already inclined towards danger or nefarious activities. Therfore, on one hand, the island on Lake Kivu could be a feeder into the RPF armies. A problem I see however is with the infrastructure of the prgram. One boy interviewed by the New York Times coorespondent begged to tell his father that he was alive. The boy was literally picked up off the street and sent west without any contact with the boy's family by telephone or otherwise. In African countries where a majority of families live without a phone or other telecommunication, it is atrocious to think that the government would practice such behavior.
Paul Kagame has pushed for a brighter and bigger future for his country. In fact, in the midst of the post economic global downslide, Rwandan businesses grow as does there business abroad. His love for his country is clear, and it has taken some strict policy, but has nonetheless been effective. This most recent (and internationally publicized) move on petty street criminals is not a step in the right direction. Too long Kagame has ignored the sound advice of European and other Western powers, but he must put the differences aside. It does not make sense to continually bad mouth and ignore countries who unfortunately were not there during the genocide. But they are there now, and deserve a voice. Kagame was a great general, but now must learn to be a great President.
You can read the story yourself at this link: www.nytimes.com/2010/05/01/world/africa/rwanda01.html