About Rwanda

History:

Rwanda is known for its horrific past, in which more than 800,000 innocent Rwandans were killed in the most brutal of ways in a period of one hundred days. The international community failed to intervene in what was later recognized as genocide.

No one event triggered the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Rather, the conflict was a product of discrimination institutionalized into the country’s politics and culture by colonial powers and Rwandans themselves for decades leading up to the genocide. Changing social and political identities, shifts in authority and privilege, and the use of violence to gain control enabled extremists to orchestrate one section of the Rwandan civilian population in the targeted killing of other Rwandans.

Today, twenty years after the genocide, Rwanda is a major site for economic development and social rehabilitation. With the help of foreign aid and the work of international organizations, the Rwandan government has directed its efforts to developing the country’s agriculture, technology, business, health, and education sectors.

Geography:

rwanda map

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Rwanda is a landlocked country in East Africa. It is small (about the size of my home state, Maryland) and is the most densely populated country on the continent. Rwanda shares borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the West, Uganda to the North, Tanzania to the East, and Burundi to the South.

kigali map

Rwanda is divided into 5 provinces: Kigali, North, South, East, and West.

The 5 provinces are divided into 30 districts and the districts are divided into ~400 sectors.

The capital of Rwanda is Kigali. Kigali is divided into 3 districts: Kicukiro, Nyarugenge, and Gusabo.

View of “Mu Mujyi” or downtown from the Kigali Genocide Memorial. April 2012.

Language: Kinyarwanda

Before the Germans and the Belgians arrived in Rwanda, the people of Rwanda practiced one culture,  were ruled by one monarch, and spoke one language, Kinyarwanda. In 2008, the Rwandan government established English as the official language and now all education is provided in English. Because Rwanda was formerly a french-speaking country, many Rwandans are fluent in French.

Please contact me for a more complete history of Rwanda or for a Kinyarwanda study guide, both in PDF form. Please note which PDF you would like to receive.

Other Organizations in Rwanda: 

The Agahozo Shalom Youth Village: a school and home for orphans of the 1994 genocide and vulnerable youth of Rwanda located in Rwamagana in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. I visited ASYV as a short-term volunteer in May 2010 and May 2011.

SIT Study Abroad Rwanda: A semester experiential learning program in Kigali focused on Post-Genocide Restoration and Peacebuilding. I studied abroad in Rwanda through this program in the Spring 2012.

Recommended Reading:

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