March 1, 2012

Rwanda is breaking away on a bicycle (from its past)

Sport

Rwanda is breaking away on a bicycle (from its past) - The Alessandro Benetton blog

I had just turned thirty when, in 1994, civil war broke out in Rwanda. It was one of the bloodiest episodes of the twentieth century and led to the death of over 800,000 people.

Now, eighteen years later, things have changed. The country has successfully regenerated itself, thanks also to the aid of western states, and is witnessing good economic growth (in the Index of Economic Freedom Rwanda occupies 59th place, while Italy, to give you an idea, is in 92nd place), as strong technological progress also demonstrates.

The ethnic differences that had divided the country for many years are not relevant now: it no longer matters if a person is a tutsi or hutu, the two ethnic groups that were at war in 1994. For example, Adrien and Gasore, two members of the national cycling team, belong to these two ethnic groups.

They are the subject of this interesting article I found in The New Yorker, which is well worth a read. It tells the story of this colourful team, coached by an American, which over the past few years has achieved good results across the continent and has taken part in the main international competitions, introducing their fellow countrymen to a sport that was previously little known.

The story of Rwanda is one, therefore, that is geared towards if not a happy ending then at least a significant improvement. It is a story that reminds us (and this is one of my favourite arguments) what sport can do not just for the players but also for ordinary citizens.

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