There’s no place like home, no matter where you go in this world, nobody will appreciate you like your fellow countrymen. Most of my generation who went in search of streets paved with gold have succumbed to the irony that where the land we left was greener in pasture than the land we went to.
It is like the Kinyarwanda saying when an elder ask a restless youth “where are you going?” and he replies “they are drums beating just over the hill, I have to go and see what it is about.” So the youngster goes to see what happens on the next hill and spends 10 years without coming back.
Such is our nomadic lifestyle but even a nomad had to come from somewhere; the airport lounge was a reassuring sight, more returnees with the bright-eyed expectations of a great future.
So back in the land of milk and honey, I had to watch my step so as not to fall on the pavements because of the bursting potential.
You realise that while the Rwandese are a hardy bunch, they do love to complain and complain they do. The reports I was getting from UK were vastly exaggerated to say they least; a Munyarwanda by their nature has to complain about how tough life is, because mutual pity is the glue that bonds society and helps us let go of steam.
A pleasant surprise awaited me at the bank; I was served in less than 10 minutes with actual courtesy for the first time in Rwanda; in the past a trip to the bank was a nightmare.
Queues extending far into the corridors and outside pavement; the humidity gave the banks a smell of stale sweat and desperation, I would often have to set aside a whole morning to withdraw money and I would withdraw more than I needed because of not wanting future agitation.
I wonder what made this particular bank sit up and notice.
In the past, the sheer crush of people meant procedure had to be abandoned as agitated customers dealt with even more agitated staff, but a queue management system and simple training has apparently changed all that.
Training is the key to this; when you see good service it is only a matter of training as anyone can be taught good service. I love this story about two men walking in the savannah, enjoying a nice cool breeze, at one with nature and enjoying the views when suddenly a lion appears in front of them.
One man panics and starts running, the other is frozen on the spot; the one who is frozen with fear shouts to his friend “there is no point running, you’ll never run faster than a lion” and he friend replied “I don’t need to run faster than a lion, I just have to run faster than you.”
So Rwandans are learning the benefits of competition; I remember calling a dozy boy selling airtime several times before he woke up to the prospect of money, now the boys pester you down the road to buy.
We have a saying that hunger is sweet and hunger is making people more proactive in life.
When one talks to ordinary people you can see a definite shift in thinking, even the lowest in society have high aspirations; the old days of being defined by class and background are far gone.
Quartier Mateus has dollar millionaires who are barely educated, so education doesn’t limit potential as there are two types of intelligence; intellectual and emotional. The pains of our development are due to us changing from one mind-state to another.
Historically we relied on emotional intelligence; heavily subjective and reliant on instinct, backed up a body of knowledge made up of anecdotal evidence. For example in farming; the local chief would use his instinct as well as historical references to decide when planting would begin or where grass would be found.
Now we are switching to what is called rationalism and empiricism; which believes that there is rational explanation for everything and that everything should be measure and studied mathematically.