Anjan Sundaram is the author of Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship and Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo. His writing has appeared in Granta, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and Foreign Policy.
With each election, Rwandan President Kagame has tightened his grip on power, and the elections have increasingly turned into a performance of his authority. Kagame’s control is visible even in seemingly benign events. When he announced a ban on plastic bags, local officials eradicated plastic bags from Rwanda almost at once. When he decreed that all Rwandans should use footwear, Rwandans purchased shoes. Some Rwandans carry their shoes on their heads, so as not to wear them out, and walk in them only when officials are present.