College Green Dialogues: “Inside Rwanda”
Inspired by National Heroes’ Day held annually on February 1st, Rwandans Florence Mutesi and Liban Mugabo (MPP 2009 – 11) used the opportunity to reflect on their country’s journey in the past fifteen years. The dialogue sought to move away from a “Hotel Rwanda-centric” view of the country, and instead intended to focus on current challenges, policy responses and political will.
After a video of President Paul Kagame, Florence opened the discussion with a presentation on Rwanda’s complex history and some of the challenges it faces, including poverty, population growth, land shortage, and disease. Florence and Liban then talked about the 1994 genocide in plain terms, but focused on the comprehensive recovery process. There was particular interest from the audience in the reinstating of Gacaca courts, which provide traditional conflict resolution mechanisms at the local level through a process of responsibility, confession, dialogue, and reconciliation.
The dialogue also featured Nbyen Dan Hkung Aung and Myo Kyaw Lin (MPP 2008 – 10), who are both from Myanmar but spent their summer in 2009 to conduct research for their Policy Analysis Exercise in Rwanda. Dan spoke of the practical considerations of going to Rwanda (such as his experience with getting his visa application approved in just forty-five minutes), while Myo offered his insights about conducting research.
Both Rwanda and the challenges of post-conflict reconstruction were of great interest to those who participated in the dialogue. The straightforward presentations by the students and the strong response from the student community made “Inside Rwanda” one of the most successful College Green Dialogues to date.
– by Sarah Flomersfeld (MPP 2009 – 11)