Authority

As a country, Rwanda is older than the Netherlands. The Kingdom of Rwanda has been founded somewhere between 1000 and 1400, at a time when the Netherlands was still part of the Spanish kingdom. When exactly Rwanda became a country is not clear, as until colonial times there was no written but only oral history. Even during the colonial times of German and Belgian occupation, the kingdom of Rwanda still existed. Only after the colonial era, in 1960, the monarchy was abolished and Rwanda became a republic. Not only was Rwanda a nation from early times on, it also had a developed governance structure and exercise of power. The kings were seen as a kind of half-gods, the physical representation of the country, on whom the well-being of people and country depended. They had absolute power. Below them, there was an extensive and complex system of local leaders and duty bearers, based on mutual loyalty between rulers and ruled. To some extent, that system has survived until today.

mwamiSo Rwandans are used to be ruled and to obey authority, with all pros and cons attached. Obedience to authority enabled the genocide (it was organised from above), but also enabled the rapid economic development from today. It leads to a disciplined army and reliable police, but it also is an obstacle to critical thinking and own initiatives. For the Dutch, coming from a culture where authority by definition is approached with suspicion and where a boss first needs to prove their worthiness, such an attitude needs some getting used to, to say the least.

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