They had been there, silent busy-bee operators, but they first jolted us into wakefulness to their existence when they put up four roundabouts in this city, flat in two days. Not two, as we might have erroneously thought.
Sure, there were some finishing touches to do, for a few more days. But after having been kindly asked to use alternative routes over the weekend, we ogled in wonderment, Monday morning, at new roundabouts and their complementary streets, as if pre-fabrications had been brought from elsewhere and placed there.
And that was not all. Apart from the eye-catching topographical relief the new streets provided, they had these now-increasingly familiar wide sidewalks that are partitioned into parts with stretches of green, stretches for those with disabilities (reportedly) and those for the able-bodied, with beautifully patterned tiles.
The authors of the execution of this summary job?
The Reserve Force of the Rwanda Defence Forces who, after having consummated the heroic liberation struggle of every individual of the persecuted Rwandan society, for one reason or another are not exactly in active service with their comrades.
Even then, says their website, they still “stand ready to support and augment....active services when called upon under partial or total mobilisation”.
As they “stand ready”, however, they are not idle. After all, as has been inculcated into their minds by their longstanding Commander-in-Chief, liberation does not end with the routing of the human oppressor.
Liberation goes beyond removing oppressive conditions and building the total empowerment of a people. That, understandably, can only be for the long haul.......
The thought of this hard-working group that’s part of our forces came to me on hearing news of some demobilised soldiers or reservists in some countries burning construction tools and generally reading the riot act to their governments.
It’s a shame. These governments never figured out the fact that this ready reservoir of energy can enjoy being engaged in profitable service. And apart from making profit for the country generally, it can make the dual profit of a salaried workforce to boost retirement benefits, as well as keeping itself from idleness.
Seems somebody in those countries didn’t recall, or was blind to, the old adage: “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.......
But we digress; our Reserve Force. To contribute in totally liberating this society, they are in the trenches, so to say, where they’ve always been.
And so you’ll see them busy in an unceasing process of building paved roads and their wide walkways in and around all city estates, which also creates employment outside the force.
One example of the result? Today you spend hours in traffic at a notoriously permanently-gridlocked road junction. Two weeks thence, when you venture there again, it’ll be no ‘venturing’ any longer! Wide paved bypasses will have been hacked out of what were impassable narrow paths, so gullied you could hardly get a foothold, to make traffic jam history.
The cost? Rock bottom, with the bonus of speed. The low cost is in spite of their big workforce and heavy road construction equipment that ensures that speed.
Therefore, the three districts of this city don’t need bulging pockets to call them up. That’s how they are getting a variety of asphalted streets or hard-surfaced murram roads, partitioned land parcels for new housing estates and more, all done literally overnight.
But if you think city districts have monopolised the services, you’ve got another think coming! For, in fact, the force is more active in the rural districts.
And here, the stroke of genius has been the model villages.
Again the “silent operators” had been erecting them in different districts without catching our attention until one adjacent to a new hospital was showcased to President Kagame, as he was going to open the hospital.
When we saw these modern buildings and their interior furnishing, seeing as they challenged our own city houses, some of us thought the pictures were playing tricks with our eyes. We had to physically visit Nyabihu District, Western Province, to confirm.
Yes, in two months and at a tiny fraction of the cost quoted by private companies, districts are financing world-class housing estates, done and dusted by Rwandans, for their poor compatriots. “For speed, China, here we come!” boasted someone amongst us.
Interestingly, the story is told of one family who, looking at that glittering new house, dismissed it offhand. “No,” said they, “it cannot be true that such a house can belong to us! When, moreover, we are already beneficiaries of monthly government subsistence allowances!”
It took the local government officials some few days to convince them to live in it as their own!
And so, those model villages are confined to the rural areas, right? Well, wrong!
The other day, one was unveiled in Kibaya Village, Kamashashi Cell, Nyarugunga Sector, Kicukiro District, exactly next to my abode. When you consider that this is the rising prime estate for the young executives of this country, greying self being old odd man out, that’s when you’ll realise how egalitarian our society is slowly but surely turning out to be. Remember the promised total liberation?
It’ll be interesting to see this country wholly covered by these and similar model villages. At this speed, maybe before seven years are out?
The Reserve Force is involved in many other activities, of course, like terracing, responding to emergencies and many others. So, when in other places they’d be languishing in idleness, here they are doing their bit to contribute in building the unity, equality and prosperity of this society.
All rise. Let’s give it up for the Reserve Force of the Rwanda Defence Forces!