Africa Study Visit in Rwanda: Day Five

We started Day 5 (Thursday, 17th of March) of our Study Visit with a lecture on the Electoral Process in Rwanda which was presented by Professor Chrysologue Karangwa, Chairman of the Electoral Commission. He began with an overview of the history, functions and aims of the National Electoral Commission before telling us in more detail how elections for the upper and lower chambers of parliament are organised and how seats are distributed to ensure the principles of national unity, national interest and power sharing are met. We were very grateful to him for not only shedding light on the electoral process in the country, but also for answering our numerous questions despite having such a busy schedule.

Following the lecture, we visited Bosco School. This is the school that many of us knew about from watching the film ‘Shooting Dogs’ which tells the story of what happened at the school during the genocide. Today, it is no longer a school, but a vocational and technical training college called IPRC Kigali City. However, there are still reminders of its past, such as the UN vehicles abandoned there in 1994, and the plaques that act as a reminder of what happened and as a memorial to those who died. We were shown around the campus by Staff Members of the college and we discussed some of the issues with the Headteacher of the college who told us how the curriculum followed at the college aims to provide high quality training that will help students gain a firm foothold on the career ladder.

And then it was back to our lecture hall again. No time for lunch, because we certainly didn’t want to keep our next guest waiting – the Minister of Defence and National Security! General James Kabarebe gave us a lecture entitled ‘Security Dynamics in the Great Lakes Region of Africa: Promises and Perils.’ He started by giving us a historical perspective of Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region, before going to on Rwanda’s regional peacekeeping and peace building role, in DRC and beyond. As usual, we had a lot of questions (Peter especially given his interest in Eastern Congo) which ranged from the role of international law to reintegration and demobilisation. After ‘Question Time’, we moved on to the grass for photos and had the chance to chat more informally with General Kabarebe.

But our day didn’t finish there! In the evening, we were joined at the hotel by Rama Isibo, a journalist and media consultant. Yet again, we got so into our discussions that we didn’t finish until about 11 o’clock again. These late night conversations seem to becoming a habit!