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The results were spectacular. The station started producing not just good coffee, but great coffee. Schilling built three more stations. Buyers from Mercato, Intelligentsia and Costco even a British microbrewer making coffee beer began showing up. In March 2006, 5,000 Starbucks outlets in the U.S. began selling Rwandan coffee. In their brochure this year, coffee roasters Green Mountain described Rwanda as "the hottest emerging origin in speciality coffee." Its coffee had "floral top notes of lemon ... sweet, caramelized sugar and wild honey evolving into the heady, well-toned presence of chocolate, dried fruit and dark cherry notes." Who knew? Not Rwandans, who don't drink the stuff. But they did notice the extra change in their pocket, and how foreigners were queuing up to buy their beans years in advance. "Suddenly, they're making more than $1 a kilo, up from 25 cents," says Schilling. Other farmers noticed too. Almost overnight, 116 copies of Schilling's washing stations sprang up nationwide. "The impact is huge, just huge," says Schilling. "It's key to Rwanda's rise."
Coffee is far from Rwanda's only success. Its roads are some of the best in Africa, and the entire country will be wireless by the end of the year. Rwanda is also clean, thanks to a ban on plastic bags since 2005 and a mandatory national "tidy up" one afternoon each month, in which even government ministers clean the streets. Partly as a result, and partly because of careful rain-forest management and a mountain gorilla baby boom, Rwanda is also a growing eco-tourism destination. The government says the economy as a whole will grow 6.5% this year.
Rwanda also scores well on some perennial African problems. It is one of the safest countries on the continent. It boasts the highest percentage of women in parliament anywhere in the world 49%. Its rate of HIV infection is at 3% tiny compared to the figure in other small sub-Saharan African development stars, such as Botswana and Namibia and all its 35,000 aids sufferers are on antiretroviral drugs. It is investing heavily in education. The government is also tackling overpopulation, which in that it describes a situation of too many people on not enough land was an underlying cause of the genocide. In Mayange, outside Nyamata, Ruxin has virtually eliminated hunger and malaria in 15 months, and the government is now scaling up his success nationwide. Most significant, foreign donors report no corruption, and in its World Governance Indicators released in July, the World Bank found Rwanda's government ranked among Africa's best, such as South Africa and Mauritius, scoring particularly well on control of graft. Repeat: World Finds Little Corruption in Small African Country.
These achievements, Kagame admits, are because "we are doing what we should have been doing in the first place." They are driven by the imperative of never returning to genocide: make people prosperous enough and build business relations between them, says Kagame, and "they value each other, rather than kill each other." Nevertheless, simply by doing what should be done, but generally isn't, Rwanda makes itself unique. "We all know the list," says Ruxin. "Law and order, electricity, water, sanitation, communications, education and health. But Kagame is the one African leader who gets the basics right."
And say his critics gets some of them wrong. Amnesty International says several thousand detainees are being held in long-term detention without trial. Human Rights Watch says Kagame has "equated 'genocidal ideology' with dissent from government policy." Paul Rusesabagina, the central character in the film Hotel Rwanda in which he shelters Tutsis in Kigali's Mille Collines Hotel accuses Kagame, a Tutsi, of pursuing vengeance. "Everything has been taken over by the Tutsi. The Hutu ... are intimidated." And it was two Rwandan army invasions in the late 1990s into the Democratic Republic of Congo, in pursuit of fugitive Rwandan génocidaires, that sparked a war that sucked in most of central Africa and killed more than 3 million people. Nor can the Rwandan army claim it was acting purely on a moral imperative. The Congo wars rapidly became a smash-and-grab for gold, diamonds and other minerals: at one point, Rwandan troops traded gunfire with Ugandans for control of the key central town of Kisangani.
The consensus among the diplomatic community in Kigali is that Kagame is a benevolent dictator. One senior Western official says that, contrary to predictions that Kagame would follow the African pattern of guerrilla leaders turning corrupt autocrat, he is devolving power and enforcing accountability. Last year, he gutted the central bureaucracies and handed many powers to local mayors, who now report every three months to the President. "It's democracy with constraints," says the diplomat. "You're free to criticize, but you can't bring up the ethnic question, or you'll end up in jail." Kagame points out that it was a free press that fostered genocide. (In the early 1990s, the Hutu supremacist Radio Mille Collines broadcast messages for Hutus to "weed their fields" and "eliminate ... the cockroaches" a signal for the genocide to begin.) "With time, [freedom] is only increasing," says Kagame. "But if people expected us to start from 100% ... Take a moment, and look at what we went through. If we are making this mistake or that mistake, we are making it in the context of having overcome the most difficult situation ever witnessed. What do people want?"
In a continent full of distrust for the West, Kagame has more reasons than most for ambivalence. It was Rwanda's second colonial rulers, the Belgians, who formalized the division between Tutsis and Hutus in 1932 by issuing identity cards that specified ethnicity. That divide festered through two Hutu supremacist regimes, which were latterly supported by France. Then it erupted in genocide and the world was nowhere to be seen.