Shashank Bengali, McClatchy Newspapers, via Yahoo! News
Sat Mar 1, 4:50 PM ET
KIGALI, Rwanda — When President Bush came here last month on his five-nation Africa tour, he paid a solemn visit to the site where 250,000 victims of the 1994 genocide are buried, laying a wreath and strolling quietly along a row of concrete slabs marking mass graves.
But government officials here say Bush’s more important act that day was something else: He signed a deal to promote bilateral U.S.-Rwandan investment.
Rwanda hasn’t forgotten the genocide, but it’s moving forward, and 14 years later this tiny central African nation boasts one of the most stable and rapidly expanding economies in the region. Poverty and illiteracy are declining, immunization rates are up, HIV and malaria have been dramatically curtailed, and new industries from coffee to information technology are experiencing sudden booms.
It’s not surprising that President Bush came bearing a wreath to be placed on the mass graves, but that he pulled a bilateral investment agreement out of his back-pocket. I will pocket my skepticism momentarily, but only to highlight Rwanda’s sudden economic and social infrastructure boom, all quarterbacked by President Paul Kagame’s micro-managing eye.
It’s sad that his legacy will be marred by the genocide. It’s even sadder that President Bush did little to help stop it. But that was then and this is now. Rwanda is rising and the rest of sub-saharan Africa could use a lesson in how to galvanize a broken society and stimulate an economy. Hey Robert, are you reading this? Give Paul a call, have some tea, steal some ideas.
Thanks to Michael Kirkpatrick for sending this in.