- Rwanda Since the 1994 Genocide
Rwanda Since the 1994 Genocide


Growing Disparities and Potential for Future Conflict

By jessical on January 30, 2013

Last week Thomson posed the question to the class, is social and political openness essential for continued economic growth within Rwanda? The conclusion overall was yes for without it entrepreneurial enterprises would be stifled and the economy would eventually come to a halt. Yet there were still some lingering concerns of how such increased openness in the public sphere would effect relations between “ethnic” divides within society. As we can gather from the Thomson, Burnet, Umutesi, and Jefremovas readings, ethnicity is far from the first concern of many Rwandan citizens. These authors discuss how ethnicity is only one form of divide within Rwandan society. More present in their every day lives are the divides along regional, class, and gender lines. As Thomson wrote and articulated in class, it is “crushing poverty that shapes the everyday lives of most Rwandans” and the strain of surviving the day which stands foremost in impoverished Rwandans’ minds rather than ‘ethnicity’ (180).  Furthermore, Straus and Waldorf quoted the a UNDP 2007 report that stated, “Rwanda’s high growth rates are deceptive in that they hide large and growing inequalities between social classes, geographic regions and gender” (10). While it may appear that the Rwanda’s economy is rebounding marvelously, the wealth is not trickling down and the reality at the bottom is far different. Thus, I wonder if greater freedom of expression were permitted, if the subsequent outburst of conflict feared by some would be centered around the regional and class divisions rather than ‘ethnicity’.

1 Comment

  • Professor Thomson said:

    Great insights into a dense set of readings. Keep in mind your question about whether the possibility of new rounds of mass violence will rest in non-ethnic cleavages when we move next week to discussion of the causes of the genocide. You’ll see then the ways in which ethnicity is part of a broader bundle of cleavages that stratify Rwandan society.

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