The Rwandan Government Abolishes More Than 1,000 Colonial Laws

Rwanda in recent times has become a beaming light in Africa – a model of African ingenuity, pride, and self-awareness. In 2019 alone, Rwanda has launched two satellites into space and has started the manufacturing of mobile phones.

To crown it all, they have commenced the offloading and abolishment of over 1,000 laws that were imposed on them by Germany and Belgium when they were colonized, from 1900 till their independence in 1962.

The said laws provided grounds for the catholic church to own outrageous and large expanses of land. The law also enforced the separation of areas and neighborhoods where white people and Rwandans lived.

One of the lesser laws insisted that alcoholic drinks must be paid for at the bar, instead of the buyer to wait and pay for them on a tab.

The Minister of Justice, Jonson Busingye, in a statement, said that “Colonial laws were made for the colonial metropole, not for colonies. They were brought to the colonies to be the legal framework to service the colonial state.”

In June of 2019, the members of the Rwandan parliament analyzed a proposal by the federal government to abolish these laws. The inquiry into the proposal and laws was submitted by State Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Evode Uwizeyimana to the parliamentary standing committee on political affairs and gender in the Chamber of deputies.   

When fears were raised by certain quarters, the minister reassured the people and the MPs that the abolishment of the colonial laws will in no way affect the legal system of Rwanda.

The minister said that “it’s a shame that the legal instruments enacted by the colonial masters are still valid in the Rwandan legal system because they were never officially repealed”.

He added that “Today, a stubborn lawyer would easily invoke a colonial law that we are yet to abolish and there wouldn’t be ways to challenge them because these laws were never officially repealed… It is hard for us to explain how we still have colonial laws when we currently have a functional parliament… Right now, we are fighting for our economic independence and there is no way we can’t fight for our legal independence as well.”

The laws which forced down the throats of Rwandans took effect in the year 1885, up till July 1, 1962, when the people of Rwanda got their independence.

The minister used the term “Legal Instruments” to encompass a large number of laws, decrees, decree-laws, law-ordinances, legislative-ordinances, ordinances of Ruanda-Urundi, royal orders, decrees of Governor-General, orders of the Resident and Special Resident, regulations, presidential orders, ministerial orders, edicts, and declarations.

The minister went ahead to add that “These are not the laws that we should be proud of keeping. We don’t see a problem in repealing them…”

In a statement supporting the abolishment of the colonial laws, the Chairperson of the Rwanda Law Reform Commission (RLRC), Aimable Havugiyaremye said that “We won’t have gaps after abolishing these laws… If we previously had governments that really sought independence, these laws would have been abolished. Previous governments did not care about this. It is our responsibility today to repeal these laws.”

Rwanda: A Guiding Compass for All African Nation

Rwanda is one of the smallest nations in Africa, but in recent times have taken steps that would make any conscious African call her a Giant.

Under the leadership of Paul Kagame and his team, Rwanda has seen advancements in science, technology, social and developmental ideologies.

The East African country has been in the news for all the good reasons. Although there are still those who feel that the president is often tough on opponents, there are still many who applaud his aggressive strategies in making Rwanda the Wakanda of Africa.

African nations and leaders should look to Rwanda and draw strength from their aggressive development plan and boldness to eliminate any form of slavery or subservience to the colonial ways and ideas.

Africa must stand on its own and decide its future, or forever remain in the shadows of Europe, America, and Asia. 


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