There’s this myth that Rwanda is great at PR. It is not. On the contrary, it’s many achievements are unknown to outsiders.
Great PR would have ensured that they are documented & disseminated to the world.
So, if Rwanda is actually poor at PR, then why does it appear great at it?
Most Rwandans are obsessed with their country. They are prepared to defend it, especially in the face of what they consider unfair or uninformed attacks against something near and dear to them (as you would do an attack against someone close to you).
What explains this intimacy?
The decimation of the country during genocide and the rebuilding (both materially and of social bonds) required a lot of emotional investment – from everyone.
The urge to protect this is collective and emotional. It is also near-instinctive and may come off as defensiveness.
This informs the attitude of most on the issue of development (how their collective investment is performing): they view it in relative terms, in the context of decimation & reconstruction.
This relative success brings immense pride & boosts a sense of self (collective) belief.
Consequently, outsiders miss the point when they assess the performance of this collective investment by heavily relying on quantitative measures.
For Rwandans, the context and subtext of development matters as much – if not more – than the quantitative matrix.
It’s complex but not complicated: the context created an intimate subtext.
Consequently, Rwanda will remain a mystery for those who encounter it in books alone will never know t.
However, engaging the people without pre-conceived notions and theory can lead to this discovery.
Those who aren’t prepared to learn will not understand why Rwandans appear triggered when they perceive that their investment is unfairly or ignorantly attacked.
Outsiders who don’t know will see the collective outrage & conclude that it’s the gov’t PR machine at work. It’s not.
Rwanda’s government PR is not that good. It’s good but not THAT good.
It survives on this collective PR that Western societies call patriotism.
Only they are unwilling to fathom the idea that the same concept can be applicable to Rwandans.
Africans play along. But what’s new?