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Life Reflections

Natural hazards still dog Rwanda but she has come a long way

By April 29, 2022June 6th, 2023No Comments

April 28, 2022

Last Saturday 23 evening’s freak rainstorm was certainly evil. Especially in this month that’s been sending and will always send quivers of remembrance in the hearts of all who value human life. May it never recur! 

Losing one precious life is a blow of unmeasurable anguish in this country. Now imagine the loss of more than eleven compatriots and injuries of thirteen. Add to that the destruction of property and infrastructure. Our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and may this arouse in us the will to assist, wherever possible, all those affected residents

Mind you, we are not yet out of the woods. More heavy downpours are expected that may yet cost more lives and more property. The onus is upon all of us then, to follow government guidelines for self-protection. No force in the world can erase Mother Nature’s anger when She is given to it.

All we mere mortals can do is try our best to moderate its impacts by taking appropriate measures.

In this regard, let’s not forget the speed with which government has risen to the occasion, whenever these threats have reared their heads, to immediately deploy solution efforts. It’s gone all out at the sound of an alarm and done all in its power to contain any adverse effects.

In that, it has not forgotten to mobilise the citizens into cultivating the ‘we-can’ mindset, where they have been educated on their responsibilities and abilities to take the necessary measures to avert sudden natural dangers. Together, we can tame Her tantrums.

Moreover, the government has set up institutions to specifically deal with these threats.

The Rwanda Meteorology Agency, lurching from wrong forecast to wrong at the beginning, seems to be getting the hang of it. Even if, methinks, we have modern technology to thank for it. The country has launched satellites in space to assist them deliver on their job but there are also our simple mobile phones to give them a run for their money!

Still, we shouldn’t expect them to have supernatural powers, what with the fickle ways of Mother Nature. At least we are able to somehow be prepared for Her menaces.

Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) is holding its own, too, trying to render the environment safe, much as it’s a tall order. Our high hills and mountains can turn tree planting and terracing into a joke in the face of strong storms but, hey, hasn’t Mother Nature at Her violent worst sometimes turned whole continents into rubble?

Despite that, if you’ve enjoyed the serene walkways of Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-Tourism Park, you’ve seen a good example of the goodies REMA has in store for us. In addition to the beauty of walkways, you’ll enjoy the sight of wild torrential rivers formed by water gathering from hills around to harmlessly settle in resultant swamps and lakes. Let’s await its replications.

The Ministry of Emergency and Preparedness is on the ready to prepare the citizenry before any damage where it can. Where the damage is unavoidable, it’s quick to count the destruction and losses and offer assistance in all ways possible.

After the last downpour, for instance, we immediately knew the number of dead and wounded, all property and infrastructure destroyed. Many of the losses and damages could long have been foreseen to save everything but again, Mother Nature is what She is. None on this earth can boast of having been able to defeat Her capriciousness. 

All in all, however, Rwandan is sitting cosy thanks chiefly to her location on this globe. Unlike some unfortunate areas, she has never known tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, the like. Ever heard of wildfires, ice storms and sinkholes, where a whole village can sink into earth?

But all that’s today. Time was when the country was ‘To Whom It May Concern’ and citizens were perishable goods.  A little storm would devastate a whole area and people and the regimes of the time never gave a hoot.

The story was told of a landslide that started at the top of a hill in a part of the then-Préfecture Kibuye. That landslide is said to have swept down residents, houses, fields and their crops down all the way to the valley. The few survivors recounted the story with pride as the few lucky inheritors of what remained of the area!

This story and many others before and after, and similar stories in many other parts of Rwanda, provided endless barroom revelry amusement in government officials’ conversation. During these boisterous carousing, they chomped at what they called ibisiga (“crows” to mean “chicken”), washed down with champagne bottle after bottle.

The victims of the landslides? Ask me another! In other words, the officials catered for their throats and tummies and to hell with the citizenry.

Outside this, officials dedicated their serious office moments to planning the swiftest ways of opulently wetting their throats and filling their tummies and eliminating all other competing throats and tummies.

Today, when you see this government doing everything to preserve every life, never forget that this country has come a long, murky way, in a mere 28 years.

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