In the 14 years since its genocide, Rwanda has made one of
the most remarkable postwar comebacks of any poverty-level country in history
-- in public health, agriculture, tourism, small business, and technology. The high-profile bipartisan American
delegation of former government officials that visited the country last week
witnessed solid economic growth as it assessed Rwanda’s needs for the
future. The mission, organized by the
ONE Campaign antipoverty group, included former US Senate leaders Bill Frist
and Tom Daschle, former White House Chief of Staff in the Clinton
administration, John Podesta, former governor and presidential candidate Mike
Huckabee, and Cindy McCain, wife of the presumptive Republican party nominee,
Senator John McCain. Shyaka Kanuma is
editor of Focus, an independent English-language newspaper in the
Rwandan capital, Kigali. He says that Mrs. McCain did not get the
glittering coverage that Senator Barack Obama now is receiving on his extensive
tour of Europe and the Middle East, but that the high-profile visitors were
well received in the hope of attracting continued US aid for Rwanda’s recovery.
coverage was pretty wide in the local press.
I don’t know about the US.
Obviously, all you can see is Barack Obama right now, having a trip to
the Middle East and Europe,” he noted.
ONE Campaign, an American group that advocates for the fight against global
poverty and disease, has been involved in efforts to restore ethnic harmony and
economic well-being to Rwanda.
Domestically, the ONE Campaign has actively enlisted the 2008
presidential candidates of both parties to give prominence to the US fight for
justice around the world in catastrophic impoverished locales like Darfur,
Sudan and Rwanda which have endured genocidal strife. During the New Hampshire primary, candidates McCain, Obama,
Huckabee, Hillary Clinton, and others often welcomed questions at their local
community rallies from ONE Campaign boosters in the crowd, who helped the
candidates publicize their commitment and recruit others to help the more
unfortunate around the globe.
McCain returned this year with the ONE Campaign delegation to Rwanda, where she
served in 1994 as a medical aide caring for young war orphans. Journalist Shyaka Kanuma acknowledges the
more private aspect of her visit, compared to both her husband's and Senator
Obama’s well-publicized overseas trips and describes the mission, which ended
on Sunday as a humanitarian working visit.
think she was genuinely here on a humanitarian mission out of genuine interest
to see what is going on since she last was here. I don’t think it in any way connects with her husband’s
campaign,” he says.
the other hand, Kanuma notes that the bipartisan nature of the high-level
delegation was viewed by Rwandans as an opportunity to show off the tremendous
progress the country is making and to make their case for reinforcing the aid
“Rwandans are more interested in
what can be gotten out of this trip and more interested in what it does for
this country and its public relations.
Here you are having this country that as recently as 14 years ago was
attracting all these fighters and now you have Bill Clinton here and you have
United Kingdom Conservative Party coming.
So Rwanda is doing something right because you don’t have these kinds of
high-profile visits in any other part of the region other than Rwanda,” he