Skip to main content
Life Reflections

Can Africans be allowed to dream?

By November 29, 2013June 6th, 2023No Comments

It’s saddening to see the impassioned loathing with which our DR Congo brothers and sisters react to any Rwandan who expresses an opinion on their country. It seems there are some who think that Rwandans can actually harbour any hatred for them.

The way I know this country, nothing can be further from the truth. Anyone who has an idea of how strongly integration-drive is close to the Rwandan heart will agree that her sights are set at a much loftier level. She cannot stoop to the level of conducting herself as grasshoppers.

Now, grasshoppers. When you seize them and stuff them in a bag to later grace your dinner table, they do not try to escape. They set upon one another in a mortal combat to see who kills who first. These are not Rwandan ways, however closely others may admire them.

For instance, Pierrot Muhindo is a Congolese national, resident in Rwanda. He lectures Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics in a technical school in Gisenyi, near Goma, DRC. He says: “Every morning my wife crosses the border to come and sell dishes, shoes and drapery. In the evening she crosses back with vegetables, fruits and meat, which my two daughters sell the following morning. We are the envy of our neighbours.”

Jean-Népomcène, 24, son to his friend and compatriot in Kigali, has a different story. After learning English in Rwanda, his businessman father is able to make business trips to Nigeria, Thailand and Dubai and his business is booming. Jean-Népo (short) is studying English here, with a view to pursuing his university studies in Australia or South Africa.

There are thousands upon thousands of such Congolese nationals scattered in different towns of Rwanda: students, manual workers, intellectuals, traders and businessmen/women – and, of course, musicians. All call Rwanda their El Dorado.

This is an interesting contrast when you remember that a Rwandan who dares step onto the DRC soil is lynched and murdered on the spot.

What some people seem not to see is that, as neighbours, we can enrich one another in unlimited ways. Congolese in Rwanda bring value to Rwandans’ life that would otherwise call for assistance from developed countries. Similarly, DRC can gain a lot from Rwanda.

Generally, then, all neighbouring nationals are a good shot in the arm for governments that are seeking meaningful growth. If we can all unfurl the methods we can use to get on that road to growth, why should anything hold us?

Our neighbours should know that there is more to gain in reciprocation than in outright rejection. And these are the benefits that drive Rwanda’s passion for integration. Well planned and carefully implemented, it can haul Africa from the mire of its squalor.

Unfortunately, some African leaders prefer to lock themselves in cocoons in the illusion that they have powerful friends in developed countries that will lift them out of their poverty. It would seem that they have not drawn any lesson from a century of Western aid.

That’s how Rwanda is out to work with others, even if it means joining up with only a few who are willing. Commentators may have plastered the term “Coalition of the Willing” on the three East African countries, cynically no doubt, bearing in mind that it’s borrowed from the Gulf, but that should not faze the three. If in the end they manage to bend their Tanzanian and Burundian counterparts to their cause, they can be sure that they will not be the only ones celebrating at the time of reaping dividends.

Imagine the railway line linking the five countries and opening out to the two main ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam is up and running. Oil from among their own powering their economies. Barriers that in any way may hinder the free movement of people and goods totally done away with. And then all the protocols sealed and East Africa as one vibrantly functional economy.

A population of 149 million plus, each group specialising in their areas of strength. What will be the resultant wealth?

But if you think that’s the level that Rwanda is training her sights on, stuff your thoughts.

Because, the way I see Rwanda, her dreams are grander. She is imagining a “coalition of the willing” having in her ‘bear hug’ the East African Community, DRC and the Central African Republic (CAR), to start with. Then, later, more countries can latch on to form what’d be known as the Central African sub-continent.

Now imagine the Central African sub-continent on one hand, the South African sub-continent on the other and, finally, the North African sub-continent. How strong will their voice be at the African Union?

Alas, because of the selfish greed of some African leaders, their pea-sized brains and their vision that seems not to extend beyond their noses, these hopes have been dashed.

France has DRC in the bag; it has just bagged CAR and it maintains claws in Tanzania and South Africa. Meanwhile, considering its widening poor-rich chasm, South Africa seems to be looking over its shoulder at Zimbabwe longingly.

And backing France, who else but the whole weight of USA and Western Europe?

Africa is not cursed; some of our leaders are.

Leave a Reply