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Life Reflections

The smallest detail to honour the sanctity of life should be extolled

By November 30, 2018June 6th, 2023No Comments

My first reaction on one morning unexpectedly seeing the world’s quintessential zebra-crossing colours changed was to wonder what Rwandans would call them now! Tell me, wherever you’ve been and for ages, haven’t you found these crossings to be ‘zebra’?

Doubtless, being ‘zebra’ alone has engraved them directly on the hearts of many an African.

For one, in addition to their usefulness to pedestrians, they are a eulogy to the beauty and elegance of the adorable zebra, an animal only to be found on this continent.

Forget the lustreless motorist joker who, once alerted by a pedestrian to stop at the zebra-crossing, sneered: “Ok, zebra, you can cross now!” He may have thought the joke was on the pedestrian but you and I know on whom it was.

Haughty fellow and humble being, both do not only go by the laws of the land but also celebrate the graceful equine animal equally.

That aside, for another, in Africa those stripes evoke the equality of races.

Uti how? In an Africa where for long the white colour represented colonialism and black, racial subjugation, here were the two colours lying side by side, in supplicatory service to the pedestrian, mostly black. The littlest pointer to equality mattered.

But, as Rwandans have been reminded umpteen times, they are neither hostage to history nor slave to sentiment. They are subscriber to pragmatism.

Whatever serves the condition of the citizen best, they’ll take to it. And that won’t be the end either because, if a new, better discovery is made, they’ll not think twice about chucking the old adoption away.

It’s not that they forget what has been, no. Else there’d be no museums.

It’s that they are always out to quickly adopt what’s most practically useful. And so if some colours can shout louder to protect lives, that’s it.

Soon, therefore, the black and white stripes that have for eons been the signs to warn motorists, motorcyclists and cyclists of the pedestrians’ right of way will be a thing of the past. They are being replaced by red and white stripes, as we speak.

Of course, if we don’t exaggerate, ‘zebra’ has not always necessarily been the colour for pedestrian-crossings in all countries. Some have different colours or designs; others, no colours at all, only pedestrian lights; yet others, pedestrian flyovers.

Flyovers, sometimes with lifts. Lifts on the streets which, among their sights for the future, Rwandans should consider, especially for the infirm and those with disabilities.

But back to the present. Now that their old colours are being changed, what other name loaded with meaning should the crossings adopt? Simple “pedestrian-crossing” is too ‘pedestrian’ for the beauty Rwandans have chosen to clothe their country in.

Well, good people, knowing you as cherishers of challenges, I’ll throw you one!

What about “bongo-crossing” for a name that’s not lacking in a multiplicity of meanings?

For info, the bongo is a gorgeous animal with a coat of chestnut colour, striped with bright white. To you, its beauty may surpass that of the zebra because it’s graced with horns whose allure rivals that of your treasured “inyambo” cows.

If you are the cynical type and your heartstrings are not yet touched, what about the horns’ similarity to the arms of your dancing girls?

There is a catch, though: you cannot celebrate what you don’t own. Bongos graze from West Africa to the D.R. Congo and no further, except a few that jumped over to Kenya. But as you’ve acquired other animals before, what’s hard about licking this wee snag?

The other hitch: chestnut is not exactly red. But what’s in a colour? To callously discolour Shakespeare’s quote, a pedestrian-crossing by any other celebrated animal name does its function as well – or, in this case, better. Did Africans see white in colonialists’ colour? No, they saw red – literally and figuratively!

So, the really tricky challenges exist elsewhere, methinks.

By the look of their susceptibility to discoloration, dirt and wear even in their novelty, ‘bongo-crossings’ will need more than constant care.

That’ll be in addition to finding a permanent solution to the existing motorcycle-taxi menace; the persistent gridlocks at road junctions despite the sterling efforts of the chic-uniformed traffic police; the invisibility of the latter’s bare arms at night, when not in reflector raincoats.

All in all, however, you have no reason to gripe.

The fact alone that any small detail, like that of changing zebra-crossings, is being attended to practically on a daily basis as part of the general safety demanded in midugudu consensuses is enough. It’s testimony to a responsive leadership whose sworn reason for existence is the comfort and sanctity of life for all.

We see this in the extant peace and security; attention to healthcare; wealth-creation; environment; say it.

In a region where citizens are resigned to a life of being consumed in daily carnage, that’s something to write home about. Nothing is as terrible as living with the knowledge that your unexpected grave may be the highway, waterway, pathway or any other mitigable and, often, manageable way.

As you exalt Mother Nature’s offer of the beauty in living things, so should you the systems that pay attention to the smallest detail in honour of the sanctity of life.

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