In Africa can we ever see honour suicide by any kind of official?

A Tanzanian ferry with hundreds of Passengers recently capsized on Lake Victoria, killing hundreds of people. (Courtesy)

The waters of this globe are angry. And it’s not only global warming melting the icecaps that’s driving them hopping mad. Or else the inland waters wouldn’t be in a bad mood, too.

In all waters, of the high seas and of the highlands, it’s mankind to blame.

But before we go blame-portioning, let’s lower our heads to commiserate with the good brothers and sisters of Tanzania. May they find strength in these terrible times of bereavement and may the precious lives lost rest in peace.

Why should we humans be marked by any carelessness? In Africa, what gods have so cursed us that we don’t give value to value to others’ and our lives?

It’s only in Africa where water locomotives with capacities for a hundred people each can be caught packed with thousands. And that won’t be all. On top of that thousand-strong human over-load, there’ll be tonnes of merchandise groaning under the weight of passengers perched atop them. That combined load will be in addition to the weight in the cargo hold!

This absurdity may also be found in some Asian and Latin American countries. But we shouldn’t be marked by such fatal negligence just because others share our ineptitude.

Because the absurdities of parts of this continent do not end with water transport.

First, you’ve seen cars, pickups and lorries moving on gullied used-to-be tarmac roads that have turned into foot-tracks. Second, those locomotives will have for so long seen better days you’ll wonder at the miracle that still makes them move. Third, they’ll be moving like dogs on haunches, with their tail metals totally worn due to overloading.

Fourth, no African will think of maintenance till those death traps snap up. Only when they do, they’ll snuff up thousands of lives, as they’ve done umpteen times before.

In lucky areas with trains, that luck is a poisoned chalice.

For instance, when a train-crash sends thousands of lives to their premature end, it’ll be because the train-capacity will be hundreds. Apart from the passenger area, people will be hanging precariously on the sides, with others hanging more perilously on those hangers-on(!), because the roof is already overflowing with humans.

And it’ll not be because they signed suicide notes, no. They cherish lives as much as you and I. But then again, you can’t keep alive without going about the business of making a living.

Yet there you are, wondering why so many of them find nothing strange in braving the lethal Sahara deserts or the cannibalistic Mediterranean waters.

But what about the case of naval officer Commander Abdilash Tomy, you’ll ask.

Remember, that’s the guy whose life was recently hanging on a thread in the choppy waters of the southern Indian Ocean, before he was rescued, though nursing a broken back.

Well, when it comes to sport, people will even turn themselves into cannon balls, well knowing they are rocketing to their deaths. It’s their ‘democratic’ right!

So, let’s leave sportsmen and women to their sport-rocketing and come back to earth.

In some African, Asian and Latin American countries, why can’t officials, especially those concerned with the protection of life, be marked with honour and humaneness?

Maybe you’ve heard of this case of a Japanese train conductor. When his train was five minutes late – F-I-V-V-E! –, a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence, the man tossed his coat and cap onto the tracks, scaled the railway barrier and ‘cannon-balled’ 7.5 metres down to his death!

One case among many.

We are eagerly waiting to see such a case in an African country.

But in case you think I am skirting the Rwandan water case, don’t gloat yet! I am not.

Late last week, people in the northern part of Rwanda woke up to find all the fish in some rivers and fish-ponds literally belly-up.

Angry waters, human negligence, folly; where did the blame lie?

Anyway, immediately, a concerned official rushed out a plea: “Dear Leaders, I am alerted ko kuva mu rukerera……..” The official went on to assure us that he had dispatched a Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) team of “Mr. Gregory na Dr. Geoffrey” to follow up the case.

Whatever “Bavuga, Ntibavuga”, as Rwandans like to refer to the “Rwanda Academy of Language and Culture”, may say about that language, that’s beside the point.

What I know is that if these and subsequent teams drawn from other government departments who are all investigating the case don’t determine the problem soon, heads will roll.

Order and neatness in Rwanda, that’s the meaning. Not for this country shoddy work, negligence, folly at work, ramshackle land or water locomotives, et al.

Some in the world will call the enforcement of that order autocracy, dictatorship, all the tyrannical names in the book.

I don’t know about you but, if you ask me, I wish our leadership could tyrannise its cadres into averting such fatal errors or anything that may violate the sanctity of any creature’s life. And also tyrannise us into order and the respect of our self-worth, whether we be poor or not.

Then maybe one day we can see honour suicide of an official in this country?

That apart, with focused, pro-people leadership, even Mother Nature’s fury can be mitigated.

butapa@gmail.com

The views expressed in this article are of the author.