Methinks the coming years will see exciting times for everybody, Rwandan or not. When you take into account the changes taking place, especially the increasingly high speeds at which everything is being created from nothing or bettered if there, you can’t help but wonder.
Where will these ‘Thousand Hills’ be in the near future?
The not-too distant future, why not, may surprise and defrost hearts of the Ken Roths of this world who hate our guts and yet know their object of hatred, Rwanda, if not by name only, then, courtesy of Google map.
Yes, let’s mention them all, even if it only soils our tongues.
The likes of Filip Rentjens who, remember, breezed in, hot on the heels of the 1994 liberation, pompously confident that he’d be picked to pen our new constitution, the way he’d helped pen the one that assisted the near-total destruction of our society.
On receiving a cold shoulder, cause of the hatred for many, he’s been on the grieving war path ever since. Only, to us, it’s an effort in futility.
Futility talking of which, we cannot forget The New York Times and its fellow foul-mouthed rags which, for lucre or for favours of influence, are crying themselves hoarse from their distant offices in pretentious panic about our being engulfed in fear and oppression, as if they’d give a hoot if we were to be blown off this earth “with fire and fury”.
Which, let it never escape our mind, one of their sponsor countries attempted but miserably took flight, tail tucked between cursed legs, in humiliating defeat.
These opportunistic hobbledehoys getting under our skin, as a friend says? Fat chance!
A people genuinely working hard to better their lives and bearing no ill will against anyone, despite abuses suffered from many, can melt the heart of Lucifer himself – only, lest we forget, many are worse than this ‘guy’!
Maybe, who knows, it’ll be a case of “If you can’t beat them, join them”.
Anyway, our tongues cleansed, let’s get back to the topic at hand: the coming years. They’ll be exciting because since I moved house and relocated to the suburbs, my eyes seem to have opened to small wonders around me, due maybe to not being in the city centre glare.
Only after a week of not visiting the city centre, I was met with two towering buildings there that were totally new to me. Imagining my eyes were playing tricks with my mind, I took shots of them and relayed them around but everyone was equally in the dark. The first multi-patterned tower will house Banque Populaire HQs and the other, HQs for what was Cogebanque.
But that was then and then was some three weeks ago.
Today, take the street from what’s popularly called “Rond Point”, having been the sole 1980s roundabout around, to where “1930” prison used to be, looking to your left all the way. If you thought the new Chic and Downtown buildings with their spacious, lush parking-areas and the wide taxi park were the only attractions there, you are in for a surprise on your next visit.
You’ll realize that “surprise” was premature, however, when you go down from Rond Point to Nyabugogo or from Rwandex to Prince House and see what’s happening to those narrow streets that used to attract accidents more than light attracts moths. More than the double-carriageways in the swift process of completion, you’ll be impressed by the Gothic-architecture patterns decorating the roadside embankments.
For the innumerable complexes shooting out of the ground around the city like mushrooms, only the Kigali skyline will tell the story.
But that’s not all. The “premature surprise” will prove to be too rushed, too, when you see that that city centre glare is right over your head, in your suburb. What we thought were suburbs are fast turning into satellite cities, the reason for infrequent visits to the city centre.
The veracity of this was borne out to me on my way to Komironko Estate, when I took a diversion to avoid the infamous daily traffic snarl-up at the market, only to find the erstwhile dust backstreets nearly all asphalted and lit.
When I was told of plans to turn the whole area into a Dubai of some sort and that similar projects are underfoot in all suburbs of Kigali, I wondered what “city centre” would soon mean.
Villager that I am, however (yes, you can’t get the village out of me!), my heart was buoyed by the information that most of the high-rise buildings of Kimironko belong to village farmers, thanks to their sweat on the land.
What do you know! The peasant of yesteryears is transforming into the propertied farmer of today.
Remember, though, that that ignores the fact that the small provincial towns of yesterday are themselves evolving into satellite metropolises of Kigali that may soon steal the shine from their mother capital.
With vulnerable groups all getting model city-house clusters, as in Nyabihu District recently, the dream of Rwanda turning into a network of cities and city estates may no longer be far-fetched. Then the land can be freed for more organised productive activity.
Think the fast-paced infrastructural activity in this country. Think all projects that should be in the works in the region, if it weren’t for some saboteur quislings playing to the tune of outsiders. Try as they may, though, they’ll fall by the wayside and we’ll prevail in the end.
It’s not that Rwanda is doing what other countries haven’t done, far from it. It’s that 23 years from the abyss, she is fast getting equal to many a country that hasn’t known such traumas.
“We are not special but we are different,” summarised President-elect Paul Kagame recently.
That “different”. It’s going to be exciting.