Rwanda 2000s vs Sweden 1200s!:Charles Kabonero

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While working on my reasearch paper on the historical perspective of ´the principle of equality before the law´ throught Swedens legal history, I landed on an interesting feature…

Around the 1200s, Swedens legal system comprised of the so-called `Landskapslagarna´. Alot is interesting about them, but the most absorbing element is that there were different legal syetems for the countryside and towns and cities. The reason?

Well, since the towns and cities were centres for trade and business affairs, they attracted many foreigners who came for business and were also subject to the swedish laws and under the cities´ legal juridiction. It was therefore important that they trusted the legal system, thence a need for real and fair justice in the cities and towns. Not only real and fair, but quick and effective. Such a ´luxury´ and previlege wasn´t a necessity for the swedish villager in the countryside. No.

Basically, the difference in legal syetems was to serve the interets of foreigners and the related image building!
The observation forced me into an unncecessary distraction (atleast from the research´s purpose), as I absorbed the similarity between this premeval swedish legal situation with todays Rwanda.

The recent killing of an innocent 27-yr old mother and fruits vendor, UWAMAHORO Theodeziya in Nyabugogo days before the World Economic Forum is nothing surprising. Such incidents have always happened before such conferences in Kigali. I witnessed similar ugly occurencies in 2006 when Rwanda hosted the NEPAD conference in a systematic crackdown on the poor, street kids ´idle and disorderly´. Such vagrants give a bad image. They miust be eliminated from the sitting room (read, the city).
It is part and parcel of the of the much publicised ´Rwanda´s miracle´. Yes, Kigali, Rwanda´s capital city is neat and tidy with well catered-for streets and environments. Clean. But, the same cannot be said of the rest of the country.

Kigali, with its mshrooming high-rise buildnings, hotels and affluent neighbourhoods, good roads and other forms of infrastructure (no indication of industries) are a sign of ´something´, but such ´development´ is limited to the boundaries of Kigali. The focus on Kigali is informed by the same reasons that inspired Swedens King for the need of a more just legal system in cities. To send a good image to the foreigners, the vistors. Image building. Note that we are talking about Sweden in the 1200s and todays Rwanda!

The reality is that upcountry, where the majority live, the roads are in a different shape and until recently when they were forced to demolish their own houses, many still lived in grass-thatched houses. But who cares, if ´good partners´ Tony Blair and Howard Buffett enjoy a good sleep in a a Kagame-owned luxury hotel and other foreigners scan the clean city thereafter bear witness to the ´miracle´ under Kagame? Indeed, it is a myth that there is only one way of buildning a ´just and equitable society´. Practical Politics.

Charles Kabonero

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