A British citizen currently living in Rwanda says it is highly hypocritical for anyone to say that Rwanda is unsafe, having lived in the country for more than a year and a half and witnessed how inclusive the nation and the people are.
Adam Bradford, a British social entrepreneur, who permanently moved to Rwanda last year, slammed the Supreme Court ruling in the UK on Wednesday, which found the plan to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda unlawful, saying that the decision is misguided and informed by outdated, false narratives.
Bradford, who first came to Rwanda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2022) which took place last year in June blames the poor planning on the side of his home government, which put Rwanda at the centre of the legal battles over the so-called “Rwanda plan.”
Last year, Rwanda and the United Kingdom inked a deal that would see the European country send asylum seekers and refugees to Rwanda as a way of deterring illegal migration and channel crossings by small boats.
The founder of the Adam Bradford Agency (ABA), which marked one year of operations in Rwanda in August this year, says the claim that Rwanda is not safe is not only hypocritical but it is also reflects western biases on Africa, which are far from reality.
Following the ruling, Bradford has appeared on different UK networks, including GB News, to debunk the lies and misconceptions and has also taken it upon himself to challenge the biased reporting in the UK media, particularly by the BBC, through formal ways and on his social media platforms.
In an interview with KT Press, Bradford expressed his frustration about the blinding rhetoric reinforced by western media, that Rwanda is unsafe, yet realistically the country is safer than most European countries. He says the criticism and attacks directed to Rwanda are unfair and prejudiced.
“I think the initial narrative in the west, on the continent of Africa has always been stereotypical, reduced to images of poor children, bad systems, bad governance and corruption, all of the time,”
“No matter what any country seems to do to break out of that prejudice, never seems to cut through. Rwanda has done a lot in terms of, it’s part of the Commonwealth, it has its transparent and clear governance,” Bradford says.
“It has its strong Presidency and Parliament, and the very top ratings on corruption as well as other ethical practices across the board, which are part of the things that make it attractive to international investors and businesses,” he notes.
Bradford says that the Rwanda that has been portrayed throughout this process is not the Rwanda he knows, which welcomes all people who wish to come and make a difference in the country by creating jobs and wealth.
In just a year and a half, Bradford says he has been able to establish himself and his organisation to tap into the many opportunities the country offers and it is disappointing to see western media consistently trying to paint a different image of Rwanda.
“It is disheartening to see, when continually the Western media, particularly the mainstream media paint this picture, that the country is lawless, that there are killings going on, that there is a corrupt government, and more,”
“And these are direct quotes that I take from an interviewee who was interviewed last night by the BBC, a channel, which I’ve been, trying to share my views with since the ruling on the Rwanda migration plan, because I wanted to bring in the perspective which I don’t think is heard very much in the west,” Bradford says.
Bradford says that a lot is said about Visit Rwanda, tourism, how well the country is governed, how safe, peaceful and secure the country is but few people tend to listen.
“It is quite disappointing and wrong for me. I think the ruling itself is hinged on a technicality around whether or not Rwanda would return migrants from where they will be placed in Rwanda, to other potentially unsafe countries afterwards,”
“I’m confident in myself that based on everything we know about the Government of Rwanda, that wouldn’t be the case,” he said adding that again this is a belief which is harboured by people in the western world with little real-world perspectives.
Regarding concerns around Rwanda’s human rights records, Bradford refers to President Paul Kagame’s comments last year, where he questioned how the west became the arbiter or custodian of global human rights when they are grappling with their own issues.
“I find it laughable, the country where I come from which has multiple issues with its governance systems, and treatment of people, not to mention the cost-of-living crisis, and people not being able to eat or have heating during the cold months,”
“There’s a lot of things that could be said about the UK too. I think it’s highly hypocritical to label Rwanda unsafe. I feel in some ways that through the UK’s government’s lack of planning or lack of proper arrangements for this, Rwanda has somewhat become a scapegoat to this international criticism for no good reason,” Bradford argues.
Rwanda deserves credit
For all its troubles and a difficult past, including the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Bradford says Rwanda is a country that deserves praise for its leadership, the way it oversees the future as well as the manner in which it has positioned itself as a financial and investment hotspot.
“There are a lot of things I could mention, from the ease of doing business to growth in different sectors and everything else that we all know, that we all share the vision even as expats. I’m of course local citizens as well,”
“There’s big integration in the country, I don’t see racism, I don’t see bullying. I don’t see people having fights on the street as you may see in London, for instance,” he says, adding that the criticism Rwanda receives is not just cynical but also unreal.
“It is easy to see that the level of criticism Rwanda directed to Rwanda is unfair, untruthful and biased and I took it upon myself to actually complain both publicly and formally to the BBC over some of the comments that they were making about the country,” he said, adding that these allegations should not go unchallenged.
Bradford is confident that the reaction by the UK Government to work with Rwanda to improve the partnership in some ways will go a long way in giving additional assurances to make the deal tighter is the right thing to do and will build more confidence among those who are sceptical.
“I think Rwanda is a good partner in progress. I don’t see any reason why this deal is a bad thing for either country if it’s if it is done properly. The decision needs to be reviewed and I think people’s views of Rwanda need to be reviewed as well.”
Bradford, a Queen’s Young Leaders Award winner, did not see himself setting up shop in Rwanda, later on moving to the country permanently but today he sees Rwanda as his home after he fell in love with the country.
He flew into Kigali with absolutely no expectation of what was going to happen next. Before that, he had travelled to several African countries where his company had done a lot of corporate social responsibility programmes, mainly focusing on youth development, as well as his other passion- fighting addiction to gambling.
The work of his agency entails consulting with commercial clients on business growth and strategy, and then reinvesting the profit as a social enterprise, in initiatives that they care about.
His work entails interesting investors and businesses to come to Rwanda and explore different opportunities for investment and it is something he does because he believes Rwanda is the right place to do so.