South Africa: Book Review - Do Not Disturb the Narrative That Is the Rwandan Economic Lion


In her latest spellbinding book, veteran journalist Michela Wrong dispels the off-the-chart growth and supposed economic development claimed by Rwanda's spin doctors

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

In its overview on Rwanda, the World Bank has the following to say: "Rwanda has achieved impressive development gains since the 1994 genocide and civil war... Growth averaged 7.2% over the decade to 2019, while per capita growth domestic product (GDP) grew at 5% annually."

Those are off-the-chart growth figures that are usually associated with China and other Asian Tiger economies. In the green hills of central Africa, a lion economy roars. The big cat metaphor is apt, though not in the way that Kigali's spin doctors would like to market their feline to potential investors and aid donors.

In veteran journalist Michela Wrong's rendering in her superb new book, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, the Rwandan lion is predatory. But it is careful not to bite the hands that feed it. Outright predation is reserved for dissidents or the mineral wealth of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Potential cash cows are also prey, but in a...

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