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Life Reflections

Our youth, you are in the driving seat; put in a clean job of work

By August 2, 2020June 6th, 2023No Comments

July 17, 2020

Mrs. Ducishe Viziyonariya, my neighbour, is a lady like many leading simple lives in outskirts of Kigali not yet fully consumed by today’s flourishing city housing. Areas only now getting built up by the up-and-coming youth, either newly in good employment positions or in their own now-maturing enterprises.

I may be the odd man out there but, boy, do I love it, or do I!

This is especially because of the dynamism and energy of this youth. Dynamism courtesy of which, in the first place, I came to know about this lady’s plight.

In one of our monthly muganda meetings and on our social media group we were called upon and mobilised to support her, the moment one youth learnt of what’d just befallen her. Her husband, sole bread-earner, had just died in a freak fishing accident, in a nearby lake-swamp by the baffling name of “Digi”.

We as umudugudu members took care of all the funeral rites, expenses and all. 

Today, the widow and her children live in the shack they were left in, as squatters on someone else’s plot before he develops it. To make matters worse, one of her four children is victim of a debilitating disability.

She thus fully takes care of him and cannot afford time to eke out a living.

Hers may be a shack but it’s not the kind you see in many African countries. Her family’s living quarters are hygienic. The house is of the light iron roof, kitchen and places of convenience, outside.

Mind you, what’s described above is not particular to our Kigali City mudugudu. It’s the case in every town and village in the country. The well-to-do young and not-so-young rise up in unison to ensure the poor lead decent lives, not far removed from their own, by rendering support.

In their support, however, individuals can go so far but no further.

That’s how government comes in. The country over, families in similar category receive a monthly stipend, a Mutuelles de Santé (health insurance) cover and children, free education. Throw in land for exploitation, a cow for improved nutrition and whatever else may improve lives.  

This far, the government has stood all its people in good stead.

Observing what’s now happening, however, you sit back and laugh at that “good stead”!

It’s all becoming history.

History the story of which, a friend told me one time. While flying in with an acquaintance from a neighbouring country, he remarked: “We’ve just crossed into Rwanda.”

The acquaintance glanced down; savannah-land all round. So, he turned to the friend, askance: “Uhm, what magic makes you see a borderline where I see none?”

The friend, matter-of-factly: “You see those dots glittering in the sun? Those are the iron-roofs of our village houses.”

Acquaintance, cynically: “Hah! In our Africa, especially your densely populated country, wait till we get further and we’ll be greeted by a national park of grass-thatch!”

By the time they alighted, Acquaintance had been amazed speechless: no grass-thatch, at all?

The above verbosity came to mind when my neighbour came to bid us bye. When she visits us in what she calls “our city residence”, she wears her Sunday best. For that reason, we’d stopped her visiting and started being the visitors instead; no ceremonies.

Still, this time she came. She was going to her new residence! Yes, you heard right: residence.

We did not immediately understand but, all the same, we all spontaneously jumped up in celebration!

You see, there are these “model villages” sprouting up by the day for vulnerable families everywhere. They may be called “villages” but they comprise houses that are sometimes better than “city residences”. The government provides all amenities and fully furnishes them, which is why I call them the envy of some well-to-do city slicks.

Viziyonariya’s and other poor families have been picked to occupy such a model village in Masaka, a nearby suburb. There is another one nearing completion in nearby Busanza. These are only the latest two out of numerous others already occupied, even as the exercise continues.

The whole programme, being in its infancy – though that’s no reason for justification – has its own fair share of teething problems, yes. But not problems that cannot easily be resolved.

That’s how the dynamism and energy of my quoted youth is called out. In many projects of this country, and there are multitudes, the youth are in the driving seat. Be it in the public, the private, or any other sector, for the youth of Rwanda, the future is today.

It’s incumbent upon them to put in a clean job.

Which reminds me.

When one in our youth top-leadership (the 1990s) conceived this particular project, I remember his colleagues setting upon mixing mud with grass to make ‘rukarakara’ bricks.

Their idea of a modern mudugudu? ‘Urusisiro’: grass-thatched mud houses in a line.

None else could have envisioned that what he had in mind was “city residences” for all.

Anyway, my family and I are preparing our Sunday best for when we go visiting Viziyonariya!  

As for Acquaintance, when next he visits and happens to meet neighbour, he will change her name to Productum de Ducis Visionaria, Latin for “Product of Visionary Leadership”.   

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