It’s unlikely you’ve ever heard of the name Abkhazia. It’s even more unlikely that you’d hazard a guess as to whether it’s the name of a country.
Most probably your guess would be that the name belongs to one of those terrorists that so frequently flow off the lips of US President Donald Trump.
Well, you are not alone.
Until somebody mentioned it in a conversation, I’d never heard of the country, either. But country or whatever, it’s a pitiable piece of peopled land.
Russia is nicknamed The Bear. Something to do with the symbol of the dominant political party or one of the Russian presidents’ names, one time? Search me but, interestingly, its map resembles a bear, if you’ve observed it.
Now, if a bear’s hind leg were like that of a buffalo’s, you’d say Abkhazia is situated at the hock of that leg. Uti what’s a “hock”? It’s what you’d call the ‘hind-back-facing knee’ of a buffalo, antelope or any similar bovine animal.
Abkhazia sits on such a part of Russia’s map, where, to its south, it borders Georgia.
Indeed, if there is any pitiable country on this earth of malicious man, it’s Abkhazia.
At a size of 8,660square km and a population of about 243,000, it’s a tiny nation by all standards. But that wouldn’t stop it from being happy if only its neighbours would let it be.
Unfortunately, they’ve made it the object of unending, unmentionable bullying and battering.
During the Russian Empire – as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR – at one time Abkhazia was given some autonomy and was somehow happy. Blessed with a sub-tropical climate, it was one of the most popular tourist resorts of the Soviet Union.
Then the 1980s came and the Soviet Union began to splinter.
Abkhazians stuck with it until 1991, when Georgia declared independence from Russia and they thought their statehood was also going to be subsumed.
It was not to be. Ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia, egged on by Georgia, rose to dominate them and tensions led to a devastating civil war in 1992.
Since that civil war where Russia helped it drive out all Georgian forces in 2008, Abkhazia has seen its hopes of becoming its own individual state go the way of Nyumberi (disappear).
With all infrastructure of the tourism-boom heydays now in shambles, it’s barely existent but even that’s because it’s sustained and protected by The Bear.
It has its government and legislature but they are all at the beck and call of Russia as its borders are controlled by Russian paratroopers. It’s a partially recognised independent state but, being economically dependent on The Bear, is, deedless to say, its (Russia’s) puppet.
BBC calls it “the country living in a Soviet time warp”. This is in reference to its being stuck in the backward days of USSR. Citizen or visitor, they cannot get a single taxi to hire.
They all have to make do with paying Russian roubles and travelling around in the slow, old and crumbling buses of the Soviet era.
Has the greying gaffer finally lost it, you are wondering!
What does a speck of a bondage-country in the wintry climes of Eastern Europe have to do with anything in the sunny centre of the globe?
Worry not, caring soul (if you are!), I have my faculties about me.
Because, think again. Don’t you have neighbours with a similar bent to those of Abkhazia?
If it weren’t for this land’s strong leadership, wouldn’t you as Rwandans still be stuck in a “nyakatsi (grass-thatch) time capsule” like neighbour-villagers to the north? Wouldn’t your borders be under the control of sleazy sentries from the north? For the mounting internal upheaval, wouldn’t you be the fall guy?
Remember, for having launched your liberation effort from there, its leadership automatically assumes property rights over you.
In which case, it’s an affront not to be puppet.
In fact, a puppet has the luxury of autonomy, however nominal. You’d be its province, resignedly carrying out the rituals of voting for a man obsessed with self-serving, unending power and hegemonic fantasies. As for your progress, trinkets of a road or a bridge would do!
You wouldn’t even enjoy the luck of Abkhazians. For, at least Russians cannot manipulate Georgians and tell them to help punch Abkhazia into obedience from the south.
For you, with a southern neighbour leadership whose mental balance is in question, who knows what it can be manipulated into doing?
Of course, Imana (God) y’u Rwanda may come home to relish a night’s rest after a day’s hard work elsewhere but, once at home, He never sleeps. So you are blessed with a strong leadership that ensures that the designs of the man from up north, or anywhere else for that matter, are nothing but wishful thinking.
Otherwise, if wishes were true power, some neighbouring leader would turn this land into something worse than an Abkhazia. Maybe a model village of jigger-fattener inhabitants? Yes, for tourism attraction.
A belly laugh, if ever there was any!
A Western superpower that tried worse didn’t know what hit it!
The views expressed in this article are of the author.