Editorial: After the pilgrims, is it still a border issue?

Photo: KT Press.

They say a photo is worth a thousand words and that couldn’t have been truer than a photo posted by the Governor of the Northern Province on Twitter.

It was a line of Ugandan buses – one clearly written; “St Paul’s S.S Bukinda – ferrying pilgrims from Our Lady of Kibeho Shrine in the Southern Province back to their country.

Kibeho, where it is believed Mary mother of Jesus made apparitions from 1981, attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims every year. Due to its proximity, Ugandans make the majority of foreign pilgrims.

The governor’s twitter post is very interesting – and telling. The Northern Province borders Uganda and two of the official border crossings are located there; Gatuna and Cyanika.

In the current misunderstanding between Uganda and Rwanda, Ugandan officials and media have been quick to cling to the “border closure” as the source of the troubles, conveniently avoiding looking the truth in the face.

They are obstinate in pushing the border narrative yet they know that is not the case, otherwise, where did the pilgrims in the buses pass? No, it is convenient to say Rwanda closed its borders, and by shifting the goal post puts them in the clear.

No one needs this standoff and the easiest way out of it is by implementing the Luanda Agreement; what both sides need to do is very clear. What is so difficult about it?

Otherwise, the border is very open, even for the not-so-religious whose destination is not Kibeho. They can be assured of classic Rwandan hospitality like the one enjoyed by the departing Ugandan pilgrims.


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