By David Himbara
In Nyagatare, Rwanda, General Paul Kagame’s defense minister James Kabarebe was breathing fire. He was addressing Ingando, the political indoctrination every Rwanda must undergo to become ”a good citizen.” Kabarebe was evidently annoyed by the fact that thousands of Rwandans go Uganda to ”Guhunahuna.” The literal translation of the word ”Guhunahuna” is scavenging for leftovers by dogs.
Strangely, Kabarebe contradicted himself by asserting that Ugandans are jealous of Rwanda’s development. Why would Rwandans then cross into Uganda by the thousands scavenging if Rwanda is more developed?
Perhaps Kabarebe has lost his senses. Otherwise, he would know that Uganda has been and remains Rwanda’s lifeline. Ugandans and Rwandans are sisters and brothers — Rwandans have fled to Uganda since their colonial borders were drawn. Whether Rwandans were fleeing religious persecution, political persecution, seeking work, or seeking educational opportunities, Uganda received Rwandans with open arms. Kabarebe himself is Ugandan product in every sense of the word, not least because he launched his return to Rwanda with Uganda’s direct assistance. No cheap talk can break Uganda-Rwanda bond.
As for Uganda being jealous of Rwanda’s development, only a delusional person would say something like. It would appear that both countries are poor. Nonetheless, due to it’s larger size, Uganda comes ahead in almost all categories. Let us look at few numbers:
- Population — Rwanda, 12 Million; Uganda, 44 Million.
- Human development index: Rwanda, 159th rank; Uganda, 163rd.
- Doctor per 1,000: Rwanda, 0.1; Uganda, 0.1;
- Foreign aid per capita: Rwanda, US$96; Uganda, US$42.
- Gross Domestic Product: Rwanda, US$8.3 Billion; Uganda, US$24 Billion.
- Foreign Direct Investment in 2017: Rwanda, US$366 Million; Uganda US$700 Million.
- Foreign Direct Investment stock : Rwanda, US$1.7 Billion; Uganda US$12 Billion.
- Freedom of press index: Rwanda, 156th rank; Uganda, 117th.
Dear Minister Kabarebe, your rhetoric may make you feel good for a few seconds. But it is cheap talk. Rwandans cross into Uganda because they believe that country offers better opportunities. History shows us that this is unequivocally true. The joke is on you chief— you are a Ugandan product yourself through and through.