What’s too costly when your very dignity is at stake?

When, in his opinion piece, a fellow columnist rattled off names of hangouts in this city, though he mentioned only a few in passing, I felt like an alien. I realised I’d need a tour guide if I wanted to know all the hospitality places around.

It’s intriguing. Only the other day, I was the best guide there was!

“The other day”, of course, is relative to my donkey years because it means 1994-5!
But think of it: in the life of a nation, isn’t 1994 actually the other day?

The other day then, 1994, you didn’t need all your fingers to “rattle off” the country’s hospitality spots.

Kigali’s hotel business counted Mille Collines, Diplomates, Merdien and Chez Lando and that was about it. Other hangouts were run-of-the-mill eatery, dancing or watering holes where, before 1994, “eatery” meant over-indulgence in chicken chomping. The chicken, in a crass, village-bumpkin attempt at what went for their humour, was referred to as ‘ibibisiga’ (crows).

The joints, dingy dens, were for the pre-1994 crèmes de la crème of society. So, woe unto thee, ‘fluker’, if you were not nimble of leg when the Mafia overlords walked in! Their goons would toss you out like a dirty, damp rag.

In Kigali, other resorts were Kiyovu ‘Hotel’ (‘hostel’ seemingly having been mistaken for ‘hotel’), Sun City, Cosmos, Kigali Night, Filaon, grimy others. The seat of academia, Butare (in Huye), boasted its worn and weather-beaten hotels Ibis and Faucon. The home of gorillas, Ruhengeri (Musanze), was graced with bug-infested Hôtel Muhabura.

Cyangugu (Rusizi) had a run-down Hôtel des Chutes and Kibuye (Karongi) a collection of village huts whose name escapes the mind. Gisenyi (Rubavu) had a number of hotels that had seen better colonial days: Merdien, Regina, Palm Beach, others.

So, if the hospitality industry of the time were to see that of today, it’d wish for the earth to open and swallow it!

When I mentioned this one evening recently, someone in our group newly arrived from France but who’d been in Rwanda before 1994 laughed me off.

Said he, it’d not only be the hospitality industry to wish for that. So would the whole assortment of bankrupt and directionless politicians in charge of the then leadership, if those dead were to resurrect and those living repatriate and look at what ‘their’ Rwanda has turned into, today.

This progress was supposed to be for European countries, not ‘their’ Rwanda! But the situation was direr than you may imagine, he told us.

In fact, but for the existence of Kaddafi’s Libya as the gatekeeper to Europe, many Rwandans would have become fodder for the Mediterranean Ocean, such was their abject poverty.

For, while it was a life of scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours for this clique of politicians and their business community hangers-on, the populace languished in squalor.

The government depended on donor funding for everything. The business community depended on contracts from government to implement the latter’s projects. To get the contract, the business person gave a cut to the politician or else no deal. After a shoddy job and tax evasion, the business person made a handsome profit and was happy. The politician, envelope of cut in pocket, happily okayed the shoddy job.

And so, together they popped expensive champagne from donor countries and chomped ‘ibisiga’ bought on the cheap from the local peasants. After which, politician and business person sang praises to the donor, who happily poured out more funding. They were riding the apex of their development.

Que la vie était belle!

And the ordinary person? Well, there were crumbs of salary for the workers and little earnings from cheap agricultural produce for the farming peasants.

Now to the present. At the end of his course in France, when our friend announced that he was returning to his country, fellow African students were aghast! How could he squander the opportunity he had of one day becoming a citizen of a European country?

For answer to the sympathetic Africans, he recounted an anecdote.

When one day he offered his seat to an elderly, frail French lady in a commuter tram, the lady threw him a dirty look and spat out (here I ‘shoddily’ translate!): “You’d do a lot better returning to your country!”

Our friend’s polite answer: “Madame, please take the seat. Tomorrow I leave your freezing winters and head for my year-round sunny Rwanda.”

The frail lady exclaimed: “Ah, le Rwanda de Kagamé! What a haughty lot, Rwandans!

“As a lecturer, I remember how, when our government cut the sponsorship of Rwandan students after their government had dared boot our ambassador out of their country, from € 850 per month we used to offer each of their students, their government immediately offered them € 1000 each! And I loved it, in spite of myself. Let’s be saddled with your génocidaires, young man, whatever our government sees in them. A fat lot of good it’ll do us! Thank you for the seat.”

Life today may be more expensive than during their time, as some exiled Rwandans usually say in self-defence. But what can be too costly where the very dignity of Rwandans is concerned? For our dignity and pride, let’s happily pay our taxes and our produce’s true worth.

France sojourner and TNT columnist, I owe you one! Thanks for opening my eyes to the pace Rwanda is on towards self-sustenance.

You pointed to a lot more happenings that many of us look at without seeing.

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Can our police achieve a crime rate of 0.3 per 100,000 people?

It’s unbearable grief when young lives are carelessly snuffed out at the hands of rogue drivers.

Last weekend saw this kind of tragedy when seven students from Kampala International University, six of them Rwandan, perished in a road crash on the Kampala-Gulu highway in Uganda. May their precious souls rest in peace!

On which note, we also mourn the precious souls of the young victims of a grenade blast in Tanzania last Wednesday and the victims of last week’s church shooting in Texas, USA, as we do all those on the African and Asian continents killed in senseless wars.

The Ugandan and US incidents particularly should remind us that we cannot afford a disinterested attitude towards individuals with the power of endangering others’ lives.

We need to be alert to the conduct of such villainous drivers or fickle weapon-bearers and by all means report them to institutions entrusted with our collective safety. That way, we shall have done our bit in being our brother’s/sister’s keeper and in helping our state to protect us.

It’s an all-together different matter, of course, when some states allow individuals to purchase that “power of endangering others’ lives” from the next gun shop at will. Or let law-enforcers turn their guns against those they are in the employ of protecting.

We can only pray that our society does not get advanced to that level!

Having said which, and coming back to road accidents, we revisit the good job of work that our police keep reporting. Who can forget the butcher spots on our roads and how they had become an existential threat to everyone of us?

There were many accident-prone parts of our highways but some had seemingly become inescapable graveyards for many a passenger.

For example, we cannot forget the notorious Musha descent, on the Kigali-Rwamagana road, and the Umutara highway, where some drivers never cared to heed signs of cattle crossing roads.

And who didn’t dread mention of the Kigali-Huye highway, with parts that spelt definite death?

Nearer to Kigali, the Nkoto ku Kivumu and Karengera spots, in Kamomnyi District; the Rwasave swamp spot, before you reach Huye town, that was nicknamed Mukobwa Mwiza (beautiful lady), supposedly a Kinyarwanda version of ‘femme fatale’; and then further to the south-west, Nyungwe Forest’s Kamiranzovu swamp (elephant-swallower), which seemed to have swapped elephants for vehicle-borne humans.

It’s thanks to the vigilance of our traffic police that these human-swallowers have been tamed and road fatalities generally reduced. A firm enforcement of discipline on the police by our state was all that was needed for the problem to be minimized.

Alas, the “firm enforcement” words alone may be alien to some states.

Anyway, apart from the good work our police are doing in ensuring the security of person, on the road or anywhere else, we must commend them for the security of our property, too.

And here, maybe the best example comes from our “prim and pretty airport”, to quote a traveller.

Without even mention of the wads of dollar bills recovered for negligent travellers, sometimes more than enough to pay the concerned policeman’s/woman’s lifetime earnings, you may remember the excitement of a regular traveller from the USA, as he shared it with us.

When his iPad was snitched from his trolley by a fellow passenger as he was distracted in the baggage hall and he fussily reported it at the security desk, he was politely asked to calm down: “Sir, here nothing can be stolen and disappear. Please give us your contact mobile number.”

Even his confidence in our police, as regular visitor, had not prepared him for their profuse apologies for any incontinence caused, when soon after they showed up at his door. They were not only bearing his iPad but also a video of the snitching act and the arrest of the suspect.

But the traveller is among the finest of fine story-tellers and you can punch “Rwanda’s Finest: RNP” into Google and get the story from the horse’s mouth (with all due respect!), if you haven’t.

When you remember how our police go beyond their plateful of duties to assist the poor and vulnerable, in services and materials, and how they have become exemplary in UN missions abroad, you can’t but marvel.

That is, however, until you read about the Japanese police force!

In Japan, police has reduced crime (with a murder rate of 0.3 for every 100,000 people) and road accidents so much that they are idle enough to come to the ‘rescue’ of a lady who reports an undergarment that’s been “swiped from a clothesline”! Recently when a man left his car unlocked for a week, with a crateful of beer inside, they laid ambush the whole time, just in case.

Luckily for them (!), that “just in case” came when a middle-aged man decided to help himself to one beer. “Five policemen….pounced, nabbing one of the few…..remaining law-breakers,” it’s reported.

Can our police get there? After all, on murder rate, we are not far from there.

As our leadership never tires in saying, with the involvement of us all no mountain is too high.

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The UN should reform if it is to serve all nations equally

The first time I heard of the UN, it wasn’t as that acronym; it was as RONI, a Kinyarwanda corruption of the French “l’ONU” (“l’Organisation des Nations Unies”). I was a young stripling in exile then, listening to the newly launched Radio Rwanda that tested its broadcasting capability repeatedly with only one song.

The song, “Turatsinze Gaye!”, sent a chilling message to Rwandans who had just been rendered stateless: “Itora mwisabiye/Ko ari mwe rikozeho/RONI yindi izava he……?”
It mocked those denied their nationality for being ignored by the UN, when they ran to it for intervention. There being no other UN, it jeered, who would extract them from their wretchedness?

This episode of Rwanda’s hideous history is too long for this space but in a word, the absurdity of it was that the UN watched as the political party that won in a referendum set upon a whole section of Rwandans, assisted by the colonial power. They banished, maimed and slaughtered them en masse as the losing party, despite the fact that not all of the victimised belonged to it. Which, even if they did, shouldn’t have been the price for losing, anyway.

It was that massacring tragedy that the song celebrated.

Naïve compatriots, too, in their jubilation, little did they know that in that UN non-intervention, they were celebrating the capping of preparations for their country’s journey to hell. Nor did they know that the preparations were set in motion the moment Rwanda was ‘acquired’ by Belgium, an odd forty years previously.

When the League of Nations (precursor to the UN) handed us to Belgium as our caretaker, after the defeat of Germany in WWI, it knew that it was feeding us to the shacks.

It knew because it had been witness to the millions of Congolese who had perished under the murderous hand of Belgian King Leopold II’s agents. And yet many more, under his country’s colonial agents, after he’d sold the Congo as his property to his monarchy.

That orgy of slaughter, maiming, limb-severing, ‘working-a-people-to-death’, etc, is said to have counted no less than fifteen million Congolese dead and countless others disabled.

Therefore, 1959, year of the said celebrated tragedy, did not come as a surprise to the UN.

Belgium had made it even easier for the UN to ignore the tragedy by cunningly ‘ethnicising’ Rwandans into an important majority and lesser minorities, knowing the UN has never given a hoot about minorities. The Ruhingyas are a living example.

And so from there, the UN sat cosy as, for over thirty years, these Rwandan minorities were marginalised at home or roamed the world as stateless sojourners of lands near and far, where conditions permitted.

But when in 1990 the minorities reared their heads around the fringes of Rwanda to press for their rights, threatening to rock the boat of a ‘majority-democracy’ status quo, the UN rose.

Its intervention force was now here and, as expected, showing no results. But as the peacekeepers idly sat it out, when not making merry, the Genocide against the Tutsi broke out and, with their comfort zone disrupted, they bolted for it!

To save their skin or to give way for the minorities to freely sink deeper in their wretchedness? Search me.

Only after the RPF had halted the genocide and gone out to free Rwandans taken to Zaïre (D.R. Congo) as hostages by the armed génocidaires in their flight did we begin to hear of the UN again. This time its agents came in the skin of ‘mapping experts’ to declare that the new Rwanda was responsible for the death of millions of Congolese.

In a land teeming with myriad rebel outfits that to this day apparently kill for a living, assisted in their brutal handiwork by a bloodsucking darling of the UN, FDLR, the experts could ‘expertly map out’ that every single death of a Congolese had a Rwandan fingerprint on it. Beggars belief!

There is no doubt, those experts were counting the repatriated Rwandans as dead among those killed by this collection of uncountable Congolese rebel outfits. Which is not unlike the UN, if we remember another set of its agents who have been here on a mission of no consequence.

Of all the countries around the world, the UN sees it as urgent to send its agents to investigate torture in Rwanda, an oasis of calm in a world in turmoil. And this, following reports by another discredited, past-shelf-life body in the names of Human Rights Watch.

HRW, a body headed by another after-shelf-life, sworn Rwanda-hater whose lifeline to stretched employment seems to hang solely on finding insults to hurl at Rwanda. Isn’t it that kind of desperate existence that leads his organisation to report dead, Rwandans who are alive and well?

If the UN wants to be of use to anybody, why don’t they investigate all those countries that are tenaciously shielding our génocidaires from justice?

Or else, what does our government gain in entering into any agreement with this hulking heap of hangers-on that’s the UN? We should first have thought of sending our ombudsman to investigate the rot in their functions and finances!

Admittedly, the UN has some useful services but, on the whole, it has underserved Rwanda.

Rwanda is member, sure. But, by doing a sterling peacekeeping job, she is part of the UN as a pointer to the good that comprehensive reforms can do it and to how urgently it needs them.

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We need to recruit an army of microbes to help fight our sewage strife

For a long time, we have bemoaned the lack of a central sewage system in our towns, especially our rapidly expanding Kigali. We are panicky because it can mean a lot of things, all of them unpleasant.

As an example, if our heavily populated towns were to be seized in a large-scale seismic tremor, God forbid, we’d be consumed in a monstrous mass of morass. That’d bid bye to most, if not all, urbanites of this country.

Having stood on the brink of death once, we wouldn’t want to test our luck again.

But then, it’s not us urbanites threatened alone; our brothers and sisters in the countryside, too. Our country being overpopulated, our people in all villages are equally at peril.

Because, like us, whatever they discharge goes in some sceptic tank, pit or is thrown about all around, in places not far apart. Combined, all these discharges poison our food, our water supply, our rivers – our land generally – when not treated. If treatment of all waste is still problematic for even elite countries, imagine what it means for us in the third world.

Well, sweat no longer!

Soon, we may see a silver lining at the end of this tunnel. If the latest developments are anything to go by, and if they can be perfected in good time, we might be pleasantly surprised by finding ourselves sitting on a gold mine instead of a powder keg, in a not-too-distant future.

News has it that scientists are working around the clock, figuring out how to turn all our unwanted and unclean throw-away into energy.

And, what do you know! The foot soldiers to light our days are the bacteria.

Those pests that have preyed on us since the days of Adam may soon turn into our salvation!

Listen to this from a BBC dispatch: “Researchers at the University of the West of England have created compact, living power stations known as microbial fuel that can turn pee into power.” The cells “contain bacteria, which grow on electrodes and feed on the organic matter in the pee that flows past them, producing a current of electrodes”.

That, if you ask me, is a double barrelled attack on a problem for many in this country.

You know how doctors have always urged us to take in lots of water, as it’s good for our health. But apart from the fact of many hating anything that’s neither tasty (sugary beverages) nor sharp to the tongue (alcoholic drinks), there are those averse to the advice on account of its influence in increasing the urge to frequently answer the short call of nature.

When all these come to know that it’s for a good cause, they might take to water faster than fish. Then, to their liquid discharge will be added the waste water that goes down the drain to give us a sizeable amount of energy generation.

And that’s not all. As there is liquid waste, so is there solid.

Which is how all those aforementioned sceptic tanks and pits will become our ‘unclean sludge’ gold, when they start generating clean energy. All things answering to dirt will turn clean, an answer to Rwanda’s quest for total cleanliness everywhere.

The BBC dispatch again: “Ieropoulos [a scientist] is working with researchers in the United States……..who are developing techniques to turn solid [human waste] into sludge that can flow through the fuel cells.” The sludge is “much more enriched and so the microbes can generate more power.”

To all the above, add biogas and biodiesel that are all too familiar to us. Much as production of the latter was toyed with and then shelved, the former has been put to good use in prisons and schools, without forgetting individual rural homes that are subsidized by government.

What it all boils down to is that since we, as a country, have had the nerve to tread where others dared not, we should go the whole hog.

If we are rendering Lake Kivu harmless by extracting dangerous methane gas and turning it into clean energy, a feat that powerful countries seem to be only now trying, what is impossible about putting all our dirt in towns and villages to good, clean use?

All the unwanted dirt around us plus all the grease, oil and fat near and far can be an added answer to our continued search for enough energy to power our development.

The energy from waste may be a minuscule addition to our eager pursuit of energy expansion. But, as they say where I hail from, the only negative expansion is scrotal elephantiasis – that horrible disease that makes a mountain out of innocuous balls (get my drift?)

Our whole leadership once talked of soon embarking on building sewerage infrastructure but has since kept mum. Could it have occurred to them that there was a rescue army in waiting?

Knowing their knack for spotting out the unforeseen, I wouldn’t put it beyond them.

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Humanity: united we shall stand, divided we shall perish

I cannot aver that I strictly confess to any religious-sect piety. Rather, I’d say I subscribe to the school which holds that communion with God needs no human intervention.

But at one time I believed in the existence of anointed human divine messengers of God. That is, until I was disappointed as a trifling Catholic cub in early 1959 by a message that was doing the rounds of churches in the country, when later I understood it.

Call it a Pastoral or, Episcopal, letter if you will. At that tender age, I knew no difference.

It was called “Ibaruwa y’Umushumba wa Kabgayi” which, at the time, meant a communiqué from Monseigneur (My Lord) André Perraudin, the Swiss Catholic clergyman who was Archbishop of Kabgayi (1959 – 1989).

Truly, he “lorded” it over all Rwandans, Catholics and all!

In part, the message stated: “…..after having separated the good [souls] from the evil, Jesus said to the good: ‘Come, you who are blessed by my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world……’

Then He said to the evil [souls]: ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for you by the devil and his angels….’” (cf. Lettre Pastorale de Monseigneur Perraudin, Vicaire Apostolique de Kabgayi, pour le carême de 1959: Année de Charité {Year of Charity}).

The full impact of that message came to us as miserable refugees when the division colonialism in tandem with Catholicism had been busy sowing came to fruition. The fruition had meant the killing, maiming, banishment (“depart”) and arson (“fire”) that some Rwandans suffered.

Before these foreigners arrived, Rwandans had lived as one, albeit still in a relatively primitive monarchy, but far more just and egalitarian than many social setups of the time.

How we came to look obliteration in the face in 1994 all stemmed from what that “Year of Charity” was celebrating. It was celebrating the 1959 upheavals, a culmination of years of the dislocation campaign against our people.

Super omnia caritas (Latin for “love above everything else”), preached “Monseigneur”. Little did we know that that “everything else” included some blessed souls and some cursed ones, the latter condemned to “depart into….eternal hellfire”.

And doesn’t that “hellfire” sound rather too cannily like the genocide that it all finally led to?

But a little consolation incident: before “Monsegneur” departed this world in 2003 – to become welcome guest of Lucifer in the arson he wished others! – some Rwandans in his retirement home, Switzerland, gave him a fitting parting gift; a well-packaged mass of human waste!

For those who remember, it was not that Rwandans are equally (relative to Perraudin) crude. Rather, it was that God has decreed so: “From waste back to waste.”
God may have called it “dust/ashes” but methinks there is nary a difference as concerns “Monsegneur”!

In case you are wondering, my above emotional rambling was triggered by a sentence some pastors in my family uttered in their preaching this last weekend: “Satan hates unity!”

When you come to think of it, isn’t that a truism to beat other truisms?

You come from foreign climes, gun-threateningly tear at a people’s unity-cord while blowing on the cut with soothing Bible words and by the time you are done, you’ve divided them into something like a millions-fold Cain on one side and a million-plus sacrificial Abels on the other.

An innocent people almost wiped off the face of this earth for being your warm hosts? The “devil and his angels” are saints in comparison. If you ask me, humans are out-performing Satan.

That now-dead horse these foreign powers birthed in Rwanda at the turn of the 20th century, they are still flogging it to this day. For 23 years after we slew their division Trojan horse, they haven’t let up on trying to kick it into life. Who can keep at it like that but a human Satan?

So these foreign powers front one of their own to shamelessly flog the dead horse about who was responsible for a 1994 plane crash, knowing their own judges scientifically checked it out and laughed in their face. Still they push; they must rummage around for witnesses, however often these prove to be hoaxes.

And their arsenal is well stocked. So they fish out indefatigable “Satan’s angels” wearing wolf-in-sheep’s-skin labels like “Human Rights Watch” and other similarly veiled satanic names, created to look for some mud to stick on Rwanda.

Like Napoleon, you should humble yourselves and confess: “Able was I ere I saw Elba”. Modern-day Perraudins, able were you ere you saw Rwanda!

Rwandans are irreversibly here because they triumphed against all odds to regain their unity. Today, Rwanda knows this unity is her shield.

It’s a lesson she learnt the bitter way and a lesson she passionately desires others to espouse.

Let’s hearken to the “super omnia caritas” that’s meant from the heart, as Pope Francis preaches it. He prays that we should live as one, as God Almighty willed it.

And it’s true: united we shall stand, but divided we shall all definitely perish.

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October 1st 1990 shall always remain etched on our mind

Today twenty-seven years ago, the life of this country hung on a thread. Not literally, not practically, not virtually, not apparently, not with any nearness qualification.

It really, truly hung on a thin, stretched-to-snapping thread.

However, improbabilities of all improbabilities, a rescue mission had only just been put in motion, even as the thread stretched to its limit.

Unknown to the rest of the country whose government of the time after October 1st,1990, thought it’d given short shrift to what it called a “tiny invading force”, there was a new commander on the ground, just arrived from the USA.

The ground itself, if it could be called that, was a thin strip of sparse forest and savannah land in the north, bordering Uganda, which could barely conceal anybody. But that enough-invisibility was a blessing to the tiny group: the “short shrift” left survivors.

Badly bruised, yes, but holding up.

Meanwhile, Commander Paul Kagame, the new commander, was busy. He was hard at work, seeking out those in the difficult position of being in command of these scattered, bewildered, wounded, frightened, hungry and thirsty girls and boys, so as to together regroup them all.

The positive point on their side: the ‘new entrants’ all knew one another, having clandestinely organized themselves into a ‘total-unity’ pressure front, The Rwanda Patriotic Front, to agitate for the reclamation of Rwandans’ identity and its attendant rights.

These Rwandans included those turned stateless as well as those who ‘enjoyed’ the right of citizenship but lived as second class citizens, all together a potential pool of back-up support.

The practically intractable problem: the ‘new comers’ were ranged against the full machinery of a government that had entrenched itself so deeply into the belief, having instilled it into its selected citizenry too, that some citizens were foreigners come to encroach on their land.

It’s this government that the “entrants” hoped to bend to reason, through persuasion of any sort.

However, on top of being intransigent, the Rwandan government had the powerful backing of a super power, with the clout to galvanise all African Francophone countries to collectively crash this “insignificant invader” at a moment’s notice.

And later when the government was ‘jabbed’ into noticing that the tiny “invading group” was still around (remember the sneak attack on a celebrating government army at Gatuna border post?), that’s exactly what happened.

The jam-packed avalanche of Francophone influence and power was loosed upon the “tiny force”, ready to send it into total oblivion.

How the “tiny force” survived and finally prevailed over this avalanche, I can only rely on conjecture and titbits from those who were in the thick of it.

What I know is that for the RPF/A, what was paramount was identifying the true enemy of Rwandans’ unity and making sure this is clear to all. No Rwandan was enemy to a Rwandan. The enemy was the leadership/its drivers that had sawn division and was sworn to maintaining this status quo of a dog’s life.

Ability to make Rwandans internalise this fact was the biggest weapon if the war was to be won. But having a clear objective is one thing; clearing a path to reach the ground where to spread that message is a totally different other.

Which meant a face-off with the aforementioned “jam-packed avalanche”.

Using everything to advantage and never forgetting the element of surprise? Reconnaissance operations to locate enemy’s position? Attacking when least expected? Sniping outings that confused the enemy?

Infiltrations? Ambushes? Besieging enemy to cut off all supplies, attacking from all sides, then leaving a vent for enemy’s escape, so as not to face a ‘wounded buffalo’? Giving trenches hiding corners for a ‘dimba hasi’ bomb not to blow you to smithereens?

All the above, I am sure, are in every book on war, which means any fighter worth their small pistol can apply them.

So, how did the outmanned and out-resourced RPA apply them to confound the world by beating a super power and its pack of lackeys hands down?

Whatever the case, we must hand it to the brilliant mind that co-ordinated such an against-all-odds liberation war to turn a ragtag band of poorly armed fighters into a formidable force.

For if the scattering of that “tiny invading force” had been terminal, the Genocide against the Tutsi would have been the ‘logical’ consequence – “logical” because it had always been on the minds of its architects. This would have drawn in all RPF/A supporters who’d been left behind, only to come meet their end by the same sword.

And because this genocide would have been hastily done, especially without the excuse of a plane crash, many in the country would have resisted it or hid the hunted victims.

Again, the ‘logical’ consequence of that would have been the slaughter of those against it.

All of which, in the end, would have resulted in intra-regional, intra-clan down to intra-family self immolation, leaving an ocean of blood where once there trod a dignified, proud people.

For escaping that “stretched-to-snapping thread”, every single Rwandan, friend or foe of the RPF/A, should salute the heroes and heroines who laid their lives on the line to rescue this land.

Last October 1st may have passed sans pomp and pageantry but it’s forever etched on our mind.

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The Reserve Force: great catalyst to our development

They’d been there, silent busy-bee operators, but they first jolted us into wakefulness to their existence when they put up four roundabouts in this city, flat in two days. Not two, as we might have erroneously thought.

Sure, there were some finishing touches to do, for a few more days. But after having been kindly asked to use alternative routes over the weekend, we ogled in wonderment, Monday morning, at new roundabouts and their complementary streets, as if pre-fabrications had been brought from elsewhere and placed there.

And that was not all. Apart from the eye-catching topographical relief the new streets provided, they had these now-increasingly familiar wide sidewalks that are partitioned into parts with stretches of green, stretches for those with disabilities (reportedly) and those for the able-bodied, with beautifully patterned tiles.

The authors of the execution of this summary job?

The Reserve Force of the Rwanda Defence Forces who, after having consummated the heroic liberation struggle of every individual of the persecuted Rwandan society, for one reason or another are not exactly in active service with their comrades.

Even then, says their website, they still “stand ready to support and augment….active services when called upon under partial or total mobilisation”.

As they “stand ready”, however, they are not idle. After all, as has been inculcated into their minds by their longstanding Commander-in-Chief, liberation does not end with the routing of the human oppressor. Total liberation goes beyond removing all oppressive conditions and building total empowerment of a people to doing much more.

That, understandably, can only be for the long haul…….

The thought of this hard-working group that’s part of our forces came to me on hearing news of some demobilised soldiers or reservists in some countries burning construction tools and generally reading the riot act to their governments.

It’s a shame. These governments never figured out the fact that this ready reservoir of energy can enjoy being engaged in profitable service. And apart from making profit for the country generally, it can make the dual profit of a salaried workforce to boost retirement benefits, as well as keeping itself from idleness.

Seems somebody in those countries didn’t recall, or was blind to, the old adage: “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”…….

But we digress; our Reserve Force. To contribute in totally liberating this society, they are in the trenches, so to say, where they’ve always been.

And so you’ll see them busy in an unceasing process of building paved roads and their wide walkways in and around all city estates, which also creates employment outside the force.

One example of the result? Today you spend hours in traffic at a notoriously permanently-gridlocked road junction. Two weeks thence, when you venture there again, it’ll be no ‘venturing’ any longer! Wide paved bypasses will have been hacked out of what were impassable narrow paths, so gullied you could hardly get a foothold, to make traffic jam history.

The cost? Rock bottom, with the bonus of speed. The low cost is in spite of their big workforce and heavy road construction equipment that ensures that speed.

Therefore, the three districts of this city don’t need bulging pockets to call them up. That’s how they are getting a variety of asphalted streets or hard-surfaced murram roads, partitioned land parcels for new housing estates and more, all done literally overnight.

But if you think city districts have monopolised the services, you’ve got another think coming! For, in fact, the force is more active in the rural districts.

And here, the stroke of genius has been the model villages.

Again the “silent operators” had been erecting them in different districts without catching our attention until one adjacent to a new hospital was showcased to President Kagame, as he was going to open the hospital.

When we saw these modern buildings and their interior furnishing, seeing as they challenged our own city houses, some of us thought the pictures were playing tricks with our eyes. We had to physically visit Nyabihu District, Western Province, to confirm.

Yes, in two months and at a tiny fraction of the cost quoted by private companies, districts are financing world-class housing estates, done and dusted by Rwandans, for their poor compatriots. “For speed, China, here we come!” boasted someone amongst us.

Interestingly, the story is told of one family who, looking at that glittering new house, dismissed it offhand. “No,” said they, “it cannot be true that such a house can belong to us! When, moreover, we are already beneficiaries of monthly government subsistence allowances!”

It took the local government officials some few days to convince them to live in it as their own!

And so, those model villages are confined to the rural areas, right? Well, wrong!
The other day, one was unveiled in Kibaya Village, Kamashashi Cell, Nyarugunga Sector, Kicukiro District, exactly next to my abode. When you consider that this is the rising prime estate for the young executives of this country, greying self being old odd man out, that’s when you’ll realise how egalitarian our society is slowly but surely turning out to be. Remember the promised total liberation?

It’ll be interesting to see this country wholly covered by these and similar model villages. At this speed, maybe before seven years are out?

The Reserve Force is involved in many other activities, of course, like terracing, responding to emergencies and many others. So, when in other places they’d be languishing in idleness, here they are doing their bit to contribute in building the unity, equality and prosperity of this society.

Let’s give it up for the Reserve Force of the Rwanda Defence Forces!

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