Can current individual countries’ political tectonic shifts deliver the prosperous integration Africa craves?

Some of us heaved a sigh of relief when Robert G. Mugabe went with a whimper and not a bang. He was past his sell-by date and there are so many tumbles a man can take, true, but we’ve to admit we always cheered when, once on the rostrum, he tongue-lashed those superpowers that lord it over us – and did it more eloquently than many a polished Englishman/woman could ever hope to!

The equally linguistically agile Winston Churchill, once British PM, must still be booing his compatriots derisively on recalling this, where he lies in his repose!

He knows, jolly chap, that much as Mugabe cannot be spared the flak for lacking a vision for Zimbabwe’s future, the UK, too, shares the blame for grinding it down. Moreover, Churchill’s quintessential “my word is my bond” was glumly disgraced when the UK went back on its pledge of helping to build the newly independent country that it’d abused so.

But of course, when even your young wife or bodyguard cannot be swift enough to rescue your knee from a none-too-soft connection with the airport tarmac, it’s time to call it quits. Sadly, our Mugabe had to wait until he had to be nudged off that thankless throne.

Even the all-time-impossible-to-kill Fidel Castro of Cuba (RIP) on another continent, when he suffered such a tumble, knew it was time to withdraw his trademark military cap from the ring. Strong as he was and despite a sterling job done of advancing his country, he immediately saw that true as it may be that revolutionaries never die, it’s only in as far as they live on in their ideas and ideals; not in their mortal ‘housing’.

So, may the successors of our revolutionaries continue from where they left, after plucking their people from the yoke of tyranny, and now build progressive societies.

And the “man down yonder”, Jacob G. Zuma? Well, he zoomed onto the helm of the biggest African economy, gathered dishonest, even criminal, friends as he stuffed up his pockets with the wealth of his country and his Nkandla harem with its fair gender. So, he happily executed a few jigs of his Zulu dance but before he could finish with his hot shower, he’d been rudely prodded to throw in the towel.

By that time, though, South Africa, once a pariah Apartheid infamy but an economic giant, now as a near-democracy was at its knees so scandalously that it suffers electricity power-cuts and dry water-taps. It’s a fading shadow of its discriminative but heyday era self.

President M. Cyril Ramaphosa and your team, bring down this wall of division, racial disharmony, abject poverty for the majority and stinking riches for the minority. Demonstrate that personally, though of feet dripping with the ungodliness of that minority, you can build a classless and flourishing South Africa and anchor it in an optimistically integrative continent.

An integrative African continent whose seat (Addis Ababa for the AU), alas, looks shaky.

No, Ethiopia, in the name of Africa, don’t go down that route again!

The scandal of 1983-5, when Bob Geldof and his group of dark-glass-and-long-hair sporting yodellers were the last hope to come to the rescue of bare-boned Ethiopians in a devastating famine. The group’s “Do they Know It’s Christmas?” song saved some, yes, but what a shame for Africa!

Africa’s kin, Harry Belafonte, chipped in also to up the ante by doing the same with another group of songsters who added on the meagre £ 8m with their own $ 141m in the song “We Are The World”. So much for the effort, however; the hand-outs evaporated in the hot embers of the dearth that was consuming much of Africa.

From Mengistu H. Mariam’s Red Terror (1974 -11991) and the famine that counted in excess of 1.5m deaths, to the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) that turned around everything to put the country back on the road to advancement, despite sailing in choppy waters, Africa has been watching keenly with rising hope.

So, what’s all this, pan-Africanist Hailemariam Desalegn, that you should just go as PM and no byes? What is amiss in the EPRDF house? What could comrade Meles Zenawi hold together that you can’t? A united EPRDF can sort out these protests, surely.

With a robust near-constant 10% growth economy, a focused investment in public infrastructure and industrial parks, Ethiopia is a hub for light manufacturing in Africa. Despite sporadic bouts of hunger, the mainstay of exports is in agricultural commodities.

Ethiopian Airlines, with its sprinting growth in the industry, is the largest on the continent. The kilometres of road network and extensive rail network, even connecting to the port of Djibouti, without forgetting the light rail of Addis, all are the envy of the continent.

In electricity, Ethiopia is projected to generate more than 10,000 MW. Some of which, if it weren’t for some quislings along our connecting way, as Rwandans we’d now be tapping into.

Ethiopians, you can organise your politics to all, without exception, share in this wealth fairly and together make your economy even stronger.

These political tectonic shifts in our countries need must birth a truly rising integrative Africa.

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Volunteer leaders at the grassroots, our unsung heroes

There is a cadre of workers that we take for granted in this country. Few of us really appreciate the profundity of their work’s impact, especially to the ordinary citizen.

I was awakened to this truth recently in a conversation with a friend, who is head of Umudugudu. As a village (so-commonly translated into English, a misnomer in the context of a town), Umudugudu is not in the formal administrative structure as it’s a communal voluntary coming-together of neighbours. So, its leaders are volunteers, too.

The self-organisation of neighbours chooses their hierarchy of a volunteer leadership and gives it the powers to be in command. And so the leaders freely exercise the powers to organise umuganda but also do a lot more.

The enthusiasm of these leaders verges on excitement. For leaders who are not paid for their pains, to sacrifice so much energy and time to fulfil their obligations is nothing short of astonishing.

You will hear one boast about how their village is always the best in everything. There is no insecurity, no theft, no homes with problem couples or children, no clogged culverts, no unclean streets, no poverty case that’s not addressed expeditiously.

During the elections, their polling station was the most beautifully decorated. Their women organisation is the most active, advising one another and together identifying family problems that need solving, always working with men, in evening meetings called “akagoroba k’ababyeyi”. It’s the same for their youth organisation, for the youth’s specific interests.

And truly, all villages may not be excelling in their performances but it will not be for lack of effort by these village leaders, our unsung heroes.
It’s not that there are no bad apples among these leaders, far from it. But when it comes to implementing government policies, it’s my conviction that they beat some of the paid local leaders at higher levels, hands down.

Always thinking of new ways of making sure any personal or family query is responded to sooner than before, for example, the village leaders have divided up the villages into zones (amasibo). Every zone (isibo) can get together and solve their problem if possible and, if not, the leader takes it to the village level.

So, from zone to village, to cell, to sector, to district, to province, to the many government agencies and non-governmental organisations, civil society, et al, all the way to the three arms of government and up to the president, the lowliest citizen and their word ride unhindered. And that’s what makes the village leader’s day.

If you ask me, our villagers may not be opinion leaders but ‘baravuga rikijyana’!

All, of course, will have started at the grassroots. When in my friend’s village recently a helpless old couple announced their son was getting married, close to 1m Frs was instantly raised through a whatsapp group by the village members. And many graced the occasion.

When an old widow lost her life, the village members garnered just under 2m Frs, much as they are not rich, and everybody was involved in the bereavement, as one family.

For assistance that villages are not capable of dispensing in their combined effort, the poor and vulnerable, having been identified in name and condition, are forwarded to government programmes in charge of uplifting their state.

It’s thus that the smooth voluntary leadership at the base of our society helps the vulnerable to access all services the central government has laid out. The village members thus feel as empowered as those who count themselves as rich and powerful.

Among these community leaders who have helped propel the lowly into this feeling are also mediators (abunzi) who resolve simple disputes, as well as health-
counsellors (abajyanama b’ubuzima) who advise on healthy living and swiftly connect with health facilities.

The gratitude of the vulnerable groups, in all its innocence, has spread loads of mirth for the elite, especially on social media.

Which maybe should call for a fee to be levied on that free entertainment! The mongers and consumers of this ‘uncopyrighted’ comedy should start coughing up some dosh to help finance those government programmes.

In the model villages spreading in the country by leaps and bounds, for instance, you’ve seen the excitement of an old man over a modern house that was dished to him. No, he says, he had to sleep under the bed at first, until he had repeatedly rubbed himself clean enough to be worthy of his kingly beddings!

Or the old woman who excitedly recounts how she only needs to flip a button and sunlight floods into her house (i.e. electric light). As for cleaning herself, she only needs to twist something and rain falls (shower). Moreover, she need not go far from there for any other ‘convenience’ – (you dig?)

All in all, we should appreciate the contribution of our volunteer leaders in advancing a progressive, egalitarian and democratic Rwanda. For them and the highest levels, we are a happy, united family.

As for our African leaders still choosing hate over a continentally united family, down yonder and elsewhere, one down, how many to soon go?

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The West may be going west; let’s look to youthful East

Everybody will tell you Dubai City is the destination of choice when you want to purchase anything under the sun, on the cheap. It’s the go-to place when you want pickings at rock-bottom price, especially used vehicles, to ship home for personal use or as merchandise.

What no one will prepare you for is the spectacle that’ll explode before your eyes after touching down at the Dubai International Airport.

The expansive, modern airport may not move you if you’ve globetrotted a bit, even with all the records it holds. But what’s sure to amaze you, considering its location in the volatile Arab region (though some neighbours are peaceful, too), is the near-absence of police on Dubai’s streets and all around.

And yet as you will attest, the city is the epitome of calm and serenity. As a Rwandan used to your country being praised as an oasis of peace and order, it’ll definitely deflate you some!

Until you look very closely. The whole city is under camera scrutiny. Only the odd traffic accident or other mishap will bring police out, racing in their famed Grand Prix choice of cars, from their stable of millions-dollar-worth wheels that are otherwise a preserve of film and sports stars with money to burn.

Yet again, these entrepreneurship savvy Arabs have more tricks up their sleeves that only they can conjure up.

Those insanely-priced cars double up as a public relations gimmick. It’s said people are flying in from all over just to take a selfie with a Dubai cop leaning on a Bugatti Veyron, a Ferrari FF and other such dream cars that we only see in films.
People even plead to be arrested for the simple pleasure of riding in them!

So, why are traffic transgressions rare? Under those watchful cameras, the littlest traffic offence will dig a $260-size hole into your pocket!

Enough dough to move you around in Dubai’s swift metro system so that you can marvel at its crazily outlandish architecture and other man-made wonders that have turned it into a tourist’s paradise.

Not even the know-all Google search can prepare you for the heady feeling of being in the majestic presence of those man-made miracles!

A 7-star Arab-dhow-sail-shaped hotel that seems to be in motion on the Persian Gulf. A man-made set of islands shaped like a palm tree. The world’s tallest building that’s pyramid-shaped. The tallest 90-degree twisted building. The largest dancing fountain in the world. An indoor ski resort, the largest flower garden in the world, etc.

The above are in a desert, remember? Yet today Dubai is almost greener and more wooded than Kigali. Without that freshness and naturalness of our highlands, alright, but green.

Otherwise, anything out of this world, Dubai has it. And it’s not done yet, for it’s a busy construction-site. In the offing: an even taller building and more superlatives of everything.

But methinks the wonder of wonders about Dubai is that its population is 96% migrants, putting to shame all the xenophobic countries of this mean-spirited and naïvely self-dwarfing world; a world that’s going west or, in a word, dying.

While others are cocooning themselves inside barricaded walls – Western countries, especially – Dubai is not only the global investors’ magnet but also a magnet to all and sundry: consultants, architects, bankers, big business, small business, big traders, petty traders, workers, all. All of them in their special economic zones, with their own laws, to boot!

And the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is becoming a powerhouse in great part because of the outlandish idea that visited those Emiratis: to lure the world to themselves.
Yes, there was oil (no longer drilled), a regional port, some gas, even talk of being haven to terrorists and their money. But today’s global-leader Emirates Airlines, starting off in 1985 with a laughable two aircrafts and hired staff, and other state-owned enterprises, without forgetting being open-borders, are said to have been the spark that set off this galloping growth.

So, wherever you are from, you’ll find a home. To the extent that as a Rwandan, you’ll find that familiar ‘bife’ (buffet) with a range of cassava, arrowroots/taro (amateke), peas, beans, all.

Thus satiated on your home dish, you squeeze yourself in a corner at the entrance into Dubai Mall, at the bottom of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and watch.

That rarely-seen police will have come out in force to direct the ceaselessly enormous traffic – human traffic of tourists! And that’s only at one spot of innumerable other spots. With the likely ultimate tourist attraction of all being ‘screamingly surfing’ the sand dunes of the desert.

So you think back: continually expanding Rwandair and other state- and party-owned enterprises; new bigger airport; investment giants like car manufacturers; unrelenting extension of all infrastructure; special economic zones; open-door policy; cameras being erected; expansion and variation of national parks; etc.

And your eyes open. Yes, Rwanda, the entire country, can go the Dubai way.

In fact, when I came to think of it, I pinched myself with muted excitement (kwicinya icyara)!

Unlike Kigali, Dubai ain’t got those ‘cool’ three-lane sidewalks; traffic lights counting down seconds; humane police to assist a vulnerable kid cross streets; backstreets without an iota of litter like cigarette butts; all-year-round sunny but mountainous breezy climate; etc.

Most of all, UAE ain’t got a come-together-camaraderie monthly muganda nor a youthful bureaucracy, even as it looks generations ahead.

“[Politics] thinks of the next elections. [Statesmanship], of the next generation,” as somebody said. Methinks we concur with the Emiratis on this, dubbed an absolute autocracy, though it be.

As for the self-trumpeted democratic West, it may be going west!

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Africa, Action Man at your service!

“If it’s not the old fogy himself!” yelled Sylvetre Semajeri, on seeing me on one of Kigali’s sidewalks. “Come,” said he as he yanked at my sleeve and led me to a corner in a nearby joint.

By now you know my homeboy of the slopes of Mt Muhabura, I’m sure. So, as is his wont, hardly had we settled down than he started rattling off his ‘lecture’: “And I thought I knew him!” said he unceremoniously.

Knowing him, I knew better than to interrupt. Rather, I settled down to obligingly surrender my ears to him!

You see, resumed he after seeing he’d ‘subdued’ me, I got the story from a source that’d picked it straight out of the man’s mouth, at his birthday anniversary. We have heroes. And then we have President Kagame.

Tell me, can it begin to penetrate your dim mind how somebody, in a split second, can decide to ‘drill’ an opening through the thicket of unknown hazards and eventually come out scathed, all right, but still in one piece?

He was ready for anything because the time had come. The time to end the illusion of a cosy life in a top-rank military academy and homely flat for him and his newlywed. And, to the hilt, she took it in her stride equally easily and selflessly: the couple were as similar as two peas in a pod……

Yes, son of my soil, I can see your foggy face clearing; you now understand of whose life I talk. Indeed, who’d have thought those two would be President and First Lady of this land today? But we are getting ahead of ourselves…….

First, there were many inconceivable traps to escape on the way from USA before Kagame could join the rebel group of comrades whose story had become a black hole. For all he knew, they could’ve been wiped out. Dead or alive, though, he was part of them.

And so the man went to the elite military academy officials and said no, please excuse me but I have to quit. In truth, I’m not he of the passport I hold!

While they were chewing on that incredulity, he explained how he was in Uganda as a refugee and how now home was calling; many Rwandans faced danger from the existing regime.

Seeing how adamant he was, yet worryingly wondering what one man could do in the face of such odds, the officials reluctantly cleared him and wished the couple well, sending them off with gifts of books on war strategies for him.

And so began a journey of cliff-hanger perils straight out of the pages of James Hadley Chase novels, those thrilling adventures you so-called intellectuals read strictly as fiction. Unlike you, one true one was seeing reality in the fiction and taking notes.

Anyway, to cut a very long story short, as the couple waited for a connecting flight from London to Brussels, a sixth sense sounded a siren. Belgium, bedfellow to Habyarimana’s Rwanda as its former colony, was no place to pass. Officials there must be on the alert. And they were, actually.

The excruciating experience of tearing himself away from a beloved pregnant newlywed, abandoned in the departure lounge of an airport in London to proceed to Brussels on her fragile own, few, if any, couples would be willing to imagine, leave alone undergo.

That the two agreed on the spur of the moment and did it for Rwanda is beyond imagination for many.

So, discarding the ticket for Brussels, he somehow secured one for Addis Ababa, only to land in a city on red alert about a dangerous element with intention to transit through.

Still, when time came, he unobtrusively slipped around the detector machine and at the airport tarmac snitched his war-books-incriminating suitcase from between the legs of a security officer to place it on the conveyor belt, always unnoticed by the walkie-talkie chattering security lot.

That and how he smuggled himself onboard that heavily-guarded Ethiopian Airways flight bound for Kampala would have left James Bond green with envy!

Once in Uganda, he was on familiar terrain and so our protagonist easily manoeuvred his way through immigration and over the highway to the border only, on crossing, to be greeted by the spectacle of a shambles of death and despair.

That from there this desperate ragtag band of bleeding fighters that he commanded grew to run rings around the superpower-led multitude of armies and finally rout them remains a phenomenal exploit that has befuddled all war experts.

Even as the small band of fighters grew in strength and size, was it his heightened intuition that was responsible for their success and his umpteen hair-thin escapes?

Other examples apart, the creeping feeling on his back that made the high command vacate a tent in the nick of time before it was bombed to shreds. The huge rogue rock that he repeatedly barely escaped as it coasted down dangerously every time a fighter behind accidentally stepped on it, on a treacherous descent in the dark.

Much before that, as an exiled toddler, the narrow escape as the would-be commander mistakenly uprooted a local’s groundnuts in the name of being of use in contributing to work for food for family!

From a military strategist to a statesman unafraid to try anything in pursuit of the dignity for the down-trodden, President Paul Kagame remains a humble human whose power of action is only now beginning to be fully appreciated outside Rwanda.

Are AU member countries ready to embody their Chairman’s mission-impelled service?

As today, 1st February, is Rwanda’s Heroes’ Day, so can this be a Heroes’ Year for Africans if we can together determine to start resolving our conflicts and outgrowing the begging bowl.

All his life, the realisation of those goals has been one of Kagame’s coveted ideals.

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Rwandan mountain summits daring mountaineers to conquer them!

There are humans living amongst us and looking every inch like us but who, interestingly, do not belong to our world; they are otherworldly. With your wits about you, can you voluntarily tempt death by plunging right into the belly of the beast that’s boiling magma?

Memories of Nyiragongo Volcano in 2002 and the devastation its eruption visited on the border town of Goma, D.R. Congo, are fresh in our minds. The resultant relatively small-scale molten lava flowed over and melted buildings and all else in its path and its vicinity.

It killed 157 people despite early warnings and evacuations.

Yet for curiosity, sport or a living, there are people prepared to undertake the suicidal venture into that simmering lava without thinking twice!

The other morning I listened in stupefaction as a voice on radio explained how a German lady goes about this death-courting business for Planet Earth, the series of documentaries that put you bang in the midst of Mother Nature. The clarity of the photos of, and proximity to, the splendours and mysteries of nature bring them to life in a way your physical sighting cannot.

However, behind those spellbinding wonders that you observe in the comfort of your sitting room will have been sometimes bloodcurdlingly risky acts by a unique species of humans.

That lady is living example. To get the best close-up photo of an active volcano, she goes so deep into the volcano’s cone that the boiling lava’s sparks will be licking at her feet. At temperatures in excess of 1000°F, even with a custom-built industrial proximity suit as protection few daredevils would be ready to try it once, leave alone make it an occupation.

This world can count few braves capable of such spine-chilling stunts.

However, ordinary adventurers are legion, which brings back memories of days when colonialists used to climb Mt. Muhabura, one of our chain of mountains. The mountaineering enthusiasts were leaders, priests, teachers and their students; these latter sometimes being local.

Rwanda should try and revive that attraction to mountaineering enthusiasm for the tourist world.

True, mountaineering cannot compete with gorilla trekking as the latter combines the excitement of the treacherous climbs through brush and nettle with an exhilarating socialisation with our gentle giants and the jeopardous descent back.
All the same, an addition to a variety of tourist attractions never did any country any harm.

Only, if it were to be reintroduced, caution must be exercised as, indeed, it is in gorilla trekking.

I remember stories of how one time the descent down Mt. Muhabura cost the lives of two Rwandan students.

It must have been 1953 and the case involved students from a college not far from the mountain, Ecole Commerciale, Kinoni. After insisting on climbing the mountain despite the locals pointing out it wasn’t the season for it, the colonial head-teacher and his students followed the local guides up, headed for the summit.

Stamping your claim on a piece of ‘summit-territory’ by planting your flag there was the ultimate triumph of all!

Midway, however, all of them except four found the conditions too harsh and backtracked. The stubborn four were given leave to continue, with a guide, but also soon gave up. Without alerting their guide, they sneaked back, thus opening themselves to the hazards of straying into unknown danger.

Two of them somehow found their way to a base across the border into Uganda, almost frozen to their bones, but the others were not so lucky. They were found in the forest the following day, frozen to death.

But that sad episode aside, imagine this wonder of wonders.

The guides were loin-clothed inhabitants of the forest at the foot of the mountain – a kind of cold-defying hunter-gatherer group of tiny Tarzans that knew the mountain footpaths like the inside of their, er….loin-cloth folds. Even the heavily furred gorillas never ceased to marvel!

Anyway, all that now past, the freezing temperatures; the slippery footpaths covered in bushes that slap back together (or slap distracted you, behind!) after a climber has parted them and passed; the itchy nettles that sting every part of a climber’s thinly-clothed body; the ever-dripping canopied trees that afford no location of anybody’s bearings.

They are heavenly gifts for world adventurers and any amateur climbing-enthusiast, plus the odd student given to studying the mysteries of Mother Nature, since now there is gear to guard against any danger.

And, like the landscapes in Tour du Rwanda, the mountains need no advertisement.
Just get close-up photos of climbers tackling those terrains and vegetations, even if it means hanging on helicopter winches precariously, and transcribe the mountains’ challenge in their own words: “I am Mt. Muhabura summit, reach all of my 4,127-metre-tall stature if you can! Negotiate the capriciously slippery path to me: prickly brush, stinging nettles, dripping forest canopies and freezing temperatures and you can plant your flag on me.”

“I am Mt. Karisimbi summit. At 4,510 metres, I am taller, steeper; a meaner proposition. Plant your flag on me if you can!” I am Mt. Bisoke summit, Mt. Sabyinyo, Mt. Gahinga……

Even yours truly, with that protective gear of today, would readily drag creaking bones up there to answer such a challenge from any mountain!

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Nothing is more golden than uniting to live and advance together

Seeing mature individuals being at peace only when they are sabre-rattling or spoiling for a fight never fails to astound. We may have accepted to swallow slurs wrought upon us by bullies of our youth who only gave us peace when we licked their toes because we knew they’d grow out of it.

But could you imagine those brutes doing the same as responsible adults? It’s odd but, sadly, there are hordes whom that nastiness has followed into their near-dying days.

In my long and roaming life of a refugee, I had my fair share of an eyeful of such abhorrent tormentors.

Wherever we lived as refugees, we were persecuted by many grown ruffians but, rather than belligerence, our communities always sued for peace and cooperation.

Only when they were dangerously pushed against the wall did they put their foot down. That’s when, like coiled rattlesnakes, they transformed into vicious and tenacious opponents whom many regretted having provoked.

Take Masisi, North Kivu, eastern D.R. Congo, in 1964. A community of refugee peasants was set upon by a gang of neighbours following a rumour of a fellow refugee caught fighting for the Mulele insurgency, thousands of kilometres away.

When these unprepared refugees organised themselves and showered the attackers with arrows, stones and sticks in a counter attack, the locals took to their heels. The army, when it came to their rescue, lost the taste for confrontation on meeting with those silent lethal missiles. All opted for peaceful co-existence again.

One could quote myriad other cases, but why not the mother of them all, instead, even if we’ve quoted it umpteen times?

After this country’s two successive post-independence oppressive regimes had persistently refused to listen to pleas of rightful reintegration into their society by a majority of citizens, a few of these disowned citizens decided to face up with the small elite in power.

For close to forty years, many had lived as second-class citizens; others’ fate as a seasonally cropped (read “killed”) class had been sealed; yet others had been condemned to roam the jungles of foreign lands, there to hopefully wither and finally give up the ghost.

Talk about being pushed against the wall. This was something else; thus, October 1st 1990.

How, after suffering an initial devastating shock, the RPF/A got a new captain at the helm who initiated them into the calculus of advanced guerrilla warfare is known. It’s known, too, how, when the guerrillas swung into action with these new surgical-phantom-attack operations, the lackey of a president hightailed it to France for rescue, emphatically claiming an invasion by a foreign force.

It’s reliably reported that his master-puppeteer, President François Mitterrand, wondered aloud: “Mais, fils, legend has it that Rwandans used to be reputed warriors. How so, then, that you are wetting your pants over a feeble force’s attack?”

The lackey is said to have mumbled: “Pardon, papa, but if truth be told, those are the very same warriors gunning for their land, the very home that we erstwhile all shared.”

But a slave-son is a son and so, the superpower leader assembled all the forces from his Francophone dominions, an Anglophone one, too – now happily turned chummy – and together with his forces they set off, ready to crash the fledgling guerrillas into smithereens.

The humiliation the superpower and its surrogate forces suffered, though satanically leaving horrendous atrocities in their wake, has to this day the entire African Francophone fraternity crooning “Eureka!”

None of them could have imagined seeing a tiny African country take on and overpower what to them was no less than an ‘Almighty’!

And that was only then, when Rwandans had not yet consolidated into a united herculean force.

The meaning of this, we saw in graphic expression recently, thanks to social media’s pictorial presentation: a fifth-generation president of said superpower averting eye-contact in reverence and literally kneeling in the stately presence of that “captain at the helm”, where to other presidents he patronisingly patted cheeks.

When you stand firm for your dignity and fight for what’s right, nda ndambara yagutera ubwoba (no fight of any magnitude can scare you), as Rwandans say. Remember, as a song, recently it portentously rang out loud and clear in Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi.

In other words, with a united community of East Africans, we can vanquish any enemy: poverty, ignorance, terrorism, all. So, hopefully it’s not true that there is a mind that can be so myopic as to want to bully a fellow EAC member and see that as more beneficial to our citizens than rallying together for common progress.

This, especially with the knowledge that there are some citizens still ravaged by jiggers in their backyards. Not even the urge to massage a massively hubristic ego and get said superpower financial crumbs in the process can drive anyone to that point, surely.

Or can it?

Whatever the case, sabre-rattling or none, again as the saying goes, u Rwanda ruratera; ntiruterwa (a united Rwanda can attack; none is capable of attacking her). Coined in the 18th century totally sans arrogance, the saying called on Rwandans to always be ready to pre-empt any imminent armed attack.

So far, they’ve not fallen short on the pledge. And I don’t see them beginning to, any time soon.

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Where there is no rancour, a rabbit skin as a ‘blanket’ can host a multitude! (corrected version)

In Rwanda, there is a saying that goes: “Ahatari umwaga, uruhu rw’urukwavu/imbaragasa rwisasira batanu”. This, literally, can translate as “Where there is no rancour or hostility, a rabbit or even flea hide or skin can suffice as a ‘blanket’ to accommodate five adult persons.”

The translation is quite a mouthful, I must say, where its near-equivalent in English that immediately comes to mind would simply be “Where there is a will, there is a way”. But then again, that’s because the latter doesn’t exactly capture the profundity of the magnanimity that the Kinyarwanda saying conveys.

Now, the accuracy of my translation and comparison aside, consider that Rwandans have had this adage for probably as long as they’ve been in existence. An example of the point made, even if hyperbolically expressed, being this: Rwanda rwa Gihanga (as she was created) has never been too small to accommodate anybody; too mean to come to the rescue of anyone in distress; too poor to support whoever is vulnerable; and any equivalent as you may think of.

No doubt, it goes against the grain of the 1994 calamity and the “Rwanda-being-like-a-glassful-of-water” septic catechism of the regimes that begot that monstrosity of a calamity. But need we go into how some blockheads swallowed whole outside influence and set this country on a collision course with self-destruction?

When today Rwandans say they’ve gone back to the basics, it means re-adopting their positive traditional values that include altruism or self-sacrifice for others, as expressed in the adage, which were abused with the advent of that foreign interference.

So, cynics who have turned this country’s volunteering as safe haven to persecuted or unwanted migrants into a smear campaign about attempting to impress or make pecuniary profit there-from and think it’ll stick should perish the thought. Eons ago when that adage of a big heart instead of “umwaga” was coined, no one knew there were rich countries to impress or milk for money.

If the gesture serves for anything, at least it’s that to some countries these poor souls are as preciously valued as their own citizens.

The cynics’ contemptuous attempt at dampening the strength of the statement Rwanda is making need be ignored. The statement: everybody on this earth, but especially on the African continent, should express outrage at what’s happening to the migrants in Libya.

Individuals, organisations, countries, where is the outrage?

Why should humans be auctioned off like hand-me-down furniture? Furniture which, when auctioned, meets a more honourable fate. It wouldn’t be enslaved; worked to its bones; sodomised; raped. It would not be ‘mined’ for organs.

We’ve heard stories of these migrants’ internal organs like kidneys being forcefully removed for later sale but why are the stories muted? African media, why are you not shouting it out?

Where is a Muhamed Amin, the late famous Kenyan investigative photojournalist who stung the world conscience by exposing the famine scandal of Ethiopia in the 1980s, among others before and after? Why should we rely on CNN you-tube titbits to open our eyes to the embarrassment that’s dangling right under our collective nose?

On top of this, it’s an indictment on some African countries that their people find living conditions so appalling as to use their life savings to buy death on the hot deserts and the high seas. Reports of able-bodied men and women, along with babies, children and pregnant women, paying as much as $3000 to embark on these hazardous journeys are a dime a dozen.

Why, Africa, why?

Why can’t our governments facilitate citizens to invest such an amount of money in improving the lot of their families and in building their country? What does it say about the governance of such a nation? Has it ever heard of citizen-centred governance?

Governments that sit and content themselves with playing blame games or that throw up their arms in despair are not worth the flags fluttering in their compounds. They must pack up and buzz off!

Meanwhile, our news organisations need to get to the bottom of it.

Countries in West Africa where, to this day, nationals reportedly practice slavery on fellow nationals should be exposed. And so should countries in the horn of Africa whose leaders are said to keep their nationals in the bondage of destitution.

And, come to think of it, regional bodies like ECOWAS and the continental body, AU, with apparently only a lone voice, isn’t their silence deafening? Or, perhaps, are some member countries burying their heads in the sand to avoid the aforesaid vexing questions?

Those AU proposed reforms, methinks some countries can only have them forced down their throats, kicking and screaming!

Still, at least they can join up and we all together condemn the outrage playing out in Libya with the vigour it deserves.

But alas! All condemnation will come to nought as long as Africans do not take the said adage to heart. Their countries’ skins, whatever size, must accommodate their peoples equitably. And that, lest we forget, includes every citizen having their fair share of the national cake.

The prerequisite to which is harmony in the citizenry: no discrimination, no hostility all round.

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