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Life Reflections

Rulers on this soil who were way far from being ‘citizens’

By October 10, 2020June 6th, 2023No Comments

October 9, 2020

When President Kagame says Rwanda is “no longer a glassful” that cannot accommodate some of her own, he is alluding to a notorious claim by a past ruler of our bloodied history.

A ruler could stand among leaders of other countries and state that his country was so overpopulated that she was like a glassful of water. A single additional little drop would spill over. So, he intimated, the two post-independence regimes had sent some of the rightful citizens of ‘their country’ into exile or to their death because otherwise they’d spill over.

The ruler thus straight-facedly pleaded with the leaders to take in his country’s ‘spilt’ citizens!

Believe it or not, that’s how post-independence rulers before 1994 were so shoddily wired.

Bankruptcy in politics had been developed to embarrassingly obscene levels!

The vison of such politics for a Rwanda of the future? A country of advantaged citizens, pauperized others and yet others who had to be got rid of by any means; génocidaire, if it called for that. And the “vision de méthode génocidaire” was almost consummated, only the planner ‘visionary’ wasn’t there to pat his potbelly for “work” (as he called it) well done.

As fate would have it, his very own advantaged citizens had brought him down in a fiery ball.

In the man’s parochial thinking, he’d never paid heed to the wisdom of the Bible that he listened to every Sunday. For it’s said somewhere that “you harvest what you sow”. He and his predecessor had sown division, arson, violence and death. The former’s advantaged class served them to him as harvest on a red-hot gold platter from high up in the heavens.

Exactly as he had served a slow, salty harvest death to his predecessor in a distant dungeon that wore Mrs. Predecessor’s footpads to the bone, on her long, tortuous visits to hubby.

Verily, the two men’s pettiness was beyond civilisation’s understanding.

You and I move from one province to another without thought. Yet again, don’t we know that during their time that was a preserve of the fat cats in their regimes? Others, in whatever class, had to apply for that right.

That right needed deep pockets to acquire because only the oiled hand of the provincial governor could remove wax in his ears. No lesser official had the authority to issue it. Still, you bothered apply for right of travel if the province of your destination was neighbouring yours.

Because, again believe it or don’t, to travel in a motorised vehicle required what was known as “Autorisation de circuler à bord d’un véhicule”!

That meant that you could not hop into a private car for a lift or jump into a paid commuter bus/minibus and travel, no, Sir/Madam. You had to perform another round of palm oiling to the same honcho to obtain the right!

Now imagine trekking to the provincial headquarters to empty your pockets there and you’ll understand why Rwandans could hardly tell if there were other provinces beyond their own.

Which goes to show you that among those two regimes’ rulers, there was no single citizen if we are to go by what you’ve heard about ancient Greeks. According to whom, every society had three categories of people: the idiots, the tribespeople and the citizens.

However, they are not in the sense we understand the words’ meanings today.

The Idiots (sans reference to mental deficiency) confined themselves to their own, personal interests; they were selfish, self-centred. In short, upgraded barbarians.

The Tribespeople considered only their kind and were suspicious and fearful of those outside their community, their class and those unaffected by their suspicions and fear. They ‘countered’ these ‘outsiders’ with intimidation, force and violence.

The Citizens shared skills and knowledge with all, lived public lives and exercised civility. Appreciating they were members of a commonwealth, they strove for the common good. They knew their rights in society and also knew their responsibility to society.

They could fight for their rights but always respected the rights and interests of others; minorities, majorities, neighbours, the worst of enemies.

But to take you back. Look at Egypt’s capital city, Cairo, with a population of close to 20 million well-off inhabitants. Then consider that at the time of the “glassful” utterance, Rwanda had a population of around 6 million for whom famine was a constant.

Then you’ll appreciate why today, at a population of close to 13m healthy Rwandans, she is hosting refugees and stranded Africans. In addition, she is ready home to any foreigners wishing to pitch tent here, especially if they can contribute to her self-advancement efforts.

Consider, too, that she has the 7th most efficient government globally (World Economic Forum) and is most well governed in her environs. These are old ratings, mind you, because at the rate Rwanda is changing for the better, five years is eternity.

Now, without an iota of expletive on your mind, put yourself in the shoes of ancient Greeks and categorise those two regimes’ rulers. 

Has Rwanda sprung from a dark, idiotic and barbaric place or has she!

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