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Life Reflections

Eliminating COVID19 is a mission for which no sacrifice is too high

By July 9, 2020June 6th, 2023No Comments

May 5, 2020

Hata tukonde kama misumari, hatuwezi kurudi nyuma!” These were lyrics in a Kiswahili song that was a favourite clarion call for the Rwanda Patriotic Front/Army (RPF/A) during the 1990-1994 liberation struggle. The liberators’ cause was their alfa and omega.

Without offending Kiswahili experts’ sensibilities, I’d approximately translate the lyrics as: “Even if we are to starve to nail-thinness, we shall never surrender!”

Truth be told, this was an understatement. They were prepared to pay the ultimate price and never gave thought to their stomachs. For them, it was “Forward ever, backward never!”

Never backward, at any cost. It was a covenant signed in their blood; a social covenant of the liberators with all Rwandans, with one exception.

Elements who’d abdicated their socially-webbed soul as rulers in a regime whose mission was self-preservation and nothing but. Who, in their hubris and naval-gazing, never thought beyond themselves.

So the liberators rose to rescue Rwanda from the fangs, the claws, the clutches, the gluttony and the egomania of these few buccaneers, butchers, Draculas, vultures and archfiends that were intent on sucking this country to her demise.

The liberators were ready to give their all to restore their country to her past united-force state.

You’d be forgiven to think that, dwarfed in number and totally devoid of material support, these liberators were on a suicide mission. But were they? Not exactly; they were not alone.

They had a critical core of Rwandans who equally espoused their cause and who, though also challenged in number and material, were nonetheless ready to give their all, for their inability to be in the thick of the struggle.

All were marginalised and subjected to other unspeakable evils. Some were denied their rights that fellow citizens enjoyed, others banished to forever restlessly roam the earth. Their only clutch at the straw was hope of unthinkable but sensed-definite liberation.

Because vermin, as they were treated, they knew they were not.

Now, hooray! Here were their young women and men, ready to lie at the altar of liberation. Their mission was clear, their liberation cause worth the last drop of their blood.

The critical core, who understood the cause and supported it to the hilt, was fully behind them.

Whoever had a young daughter or son, they urged them on to join the struggle. However, in urging on their youth still around them, borosoraga ababyukaga, Kinyarwanda for (approximation again!) they were preaching to the converted.

On top of that, any money, any cloth, any saleable domestic animal, any food (many times dried maize and beans), anything, they gave them all.

Against the impossible odds of the force of a superpower and its uncountable minion forces, all of who supported the archfiend regime, the small band of liberators delivered the cause. At great, painful, permanently-recalled cost to, indeed, confirm those lyrics as an understatement.

For which cost, they are ever spurred on to grow bigger in number and insurmountable in force.

These are the agonising birth pangs of today’s united-force state the crest of which, Rwandans are riding. Those pangs having been stone-carved on their conscience, they’ll never be allowed to recur.

The crest that Rwandans are riding is, in fact, a succession of crests. The topmost crest will be total, all-round empowerment for all.

But the lyrics of that liberation-era song and the convoluted odyssey from which they issued.

They came to mind when I reflected over the responses of this country’s leadership to this virus pandemic. It’s pulling out all the stops to halt it in its death-importing steps. Stopping it is a mission for which no sacrifice is too high. In a way, it’s the liberation tussle all over again.

“Kushiba kama sisi sote hatushibi, hiyo si kurithika hata kamwe!” This seems to be the clarion call today, especially in the face of this pandemic. Which, with apologies to the Kiswahili language connoisseurs, I’ll put thus: “Either we are all fed and healthy, or none of us is!”

And so that none misses their means of self-support during this lockdown period, the RPF government has risen to answer the call. It’s thus that from President Kagame down to the lower mid-rank civil servant, none will get their salary or any form of allowance. Zero, zippo!

Meanwhile, all companies, mega or miniature, have rallied to support the vulnerable groups in the citizenry. Just as have done the well-to-do, all on this soil, in support of needy compatriots and residents. It’s thumbs up, too, for countries not ravaged by the disease that are in support.

Rwanda, even as she fights her battle, has not abdicated her obligation of support to the continent, either.

Yet amid all this, there is grumbling among some citizens about assisting others and cross-border transporters about disruption of their work. What they all ignore is that the good old, but evergreen, adage holds true today as it did the first time it was coined.

“United we stand; divided we fall.”

It’s a tersely-coined wisdom that some hubristic, naval-gazing countries, some of them superpowers, have ignored to their peril. It hurts us all that some have eyes but cannot see.

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