At the Commonwealth’s biennial summit recently held in Trinidad and Tobago, the much anticipated news that Rwanda was to be admitted as its fifty-fourth member was announced. The significance of this decision should not be underestimated – neither for Rwanda, as a tiny, landlocked country in East Africa, nor for this international association encompassing one quarter of the world.
For many, Rwanda echoes in our consciousness as a country ravaged by a genocide perpetrated on its people 15 years ago. This appalling episode left one million dead, three million refugees, a region riddled with insecurity and a country and people struggling to comprehend the enormity of the horror inflicted upon them.
The lessons of the genocide have been harsh and the many memorials to the dead continue to remind survivors of the terrible price paid by the majority of Rwandan families. Yet visitors to Rwanda can now see an enormous amount of progress, and the overriding feeling that I get every time I visit the country is of a people wanting to move onwards and upwards to a better future.