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Friday 19, May 2023

President Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame present Christmas gifts to children at Village Urugwiro.

Last Monday morning, a fellow “Gagool” and I stopped in our tracks at the Village to give way to ‘kids’ who were hurriedly streaming by. An acquaintance now and then gave us a quick, polite hug as they muttered excuses of “A meeting”, but otherwise darted off with the rest who did not know us. 

‘Kids’ to us “Gagools” in this sense, by the way, denotes anybody in their twenties and thirties.

The interesting thing is that the ‘kids’ are holders of high political and corporate positions, hoping that qualifying their positions as “high” does not offend them. See, they are the kind who are loath to be associated with high-sounding titles. Of course, there are exceptions. A few are happy to push their weight around, much as few feel it. But there are sundry sterling stalwarts of no-bluster.

They may be CEOs, COOs, CFOs, whatever abbreviations these days, of this or that institution or organisation, but among them they are just “guys”, be they male or female.

A puzzle to us “Gagools”. When we first came in contact with the term, it meant a tough cookie who brooked no nonsense and could grind any challenger into pulp. “Guys” those days were necessarily strong males. Today, the word “guy” applies to all and serves to level everybody.

And while on explanations, that term “Gagool”. In this case it’s used to mean long in the tooth, hoary, aged; knowing little of what’s new in the world. It’s taken from the name of a character in the fabled “King Solomon’s Mines”, if you’ve read the novel or seen the movie, all of it, misinformation on Africa. In taking the name, however, we are strictly on the age and ignoring the fact of the character being the terrifying King’s prophetess.

But, as usual, I digress….

We were talking about our ‘kids’. Whatever meeting they were going for, search me. Just allow my imagination to run away with me.

So, I imagine these ‘kids’ were using this main Gate2 of the Village to go for their meeting with the leader of this country. It’d have been an interesting assembly. Some would have their suggestions and answers at their fingertips when asked for an opinion or quizzed on something or other. But the twists and turns that the alternative suggestions and questions would’ve involved what would’ve left others scratching their heads hairless.

All the same, the assembly would’ve ended in bonne humeur as the country’s leader would’ve guided them around a common understanding of how to serve the citizenry and the country.

In the end, it’d have been laughter all around.

Not, though, without apprehension. Because, laughter or none, deep down the ‘kids’ know that any point agreed upon on their service would be followed to the letter. Or else, a misstep or report of failure when queried before a citizens’ gathering or officials’ congress would be like being pushed through a furnace.

Interestingly, what’s usually the case is that these ‘kids’ hold their own in such gatherings as regards their responsibilities better than, say, their seniors, who are cabinet ministers. These, too, use the same Gate2 for a communion with their president.

And, who, themselves, apart from being senior in positions, are not necessarily out of the ‘kid-age’ range bracket. You don’t need a ‘finger-complete’ hand to count those beyond 40 on your fingers.

The youth being the leaders of tomorrow, it’s said? In this land, tomorrow is today!

Well, anyway, we are reporting the above-mentioned throng of visitors to the Village through Gate2, without forgetting a plethora of visitors from foreign climes.

However, we cannot forget to report that there is always a bigger throng (in person or in mail) of visitors to the Village in an opposite side, Gate1. These will be shooting in the littlest complaint on what’s not well from the smallest nook of the country. The president is privy to many other sources of information, understandably.

That’s how in their meetings with their boss, the “guys” (‘kids’ and their seniors) will find that they have no wriggling room when it comes to finding a gamble of a suggestion or an answer to a question. Their boss’s folder on his desk that he hardly consults will be packed with every point from Gate1 of the Village. Not forgetting that his head alone carries memories of his lifetime.

Memories which are a living testimony of whatever is happening in the country and elsewhere, the world over. And memories mixed with immediate life experience, carrying which, serve to keep him alert to what he perused through.

For that, he keeps his cool, is level-headed and denigrating of priggishness, hubris, airs.

And so in Rwanda you will not find a president who welcomes visitors to their office that’s called Palais Présidentiel, Presidential Palace, White House, on and on.

Rwanda is a country where when you want a long life in leadership, you must embrace humility. The life-long crave from President Kagame is that humility rules this land. (No, not imagination as in what the meeting was about!)

Leadership here demands disassociation from pomposity. Marry it and in no time you’ll fall like a sack of tin!

And so, like any other villager in this land, Kagame has a village he works in – Urugwiro Village.

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