Mine is not to talk ill of the dead. No, mortal that I be, I must bemoan the passing away at his own hands of crooner Kizito Mihigo. It was a case of a wasted life in its prime.
Mine is to marvel at the citizen who first spotted the crooner and his helper-detail duo. I am not exactly privy to details but the snippets out of what happened are enough for one to surmise.
Stung to the quick on seeing the trio, the citizen shouts: “Who goes there? Halt!” And stopped dead in their tracks, the silent, sneaky troika whip around to see the lone peasant almost completely hidden by a thick-trunked ‘umuvumu’ tree.
The crooner quickly and fiercely whispers: “Shhh, don’t shout! Here, this is Rwf300,000, take it and make like you haven’t seen anything. We are only going across to sell things and we’ll soon be back and share a Mutziig beer. You know, you might even make a few millions. We’ll have sold the smuggled stuff on our backs, you know.”
Unimpressed, the peasant shouts for ‘re-enforcement’ and, now with other citizens, together they ring the trio, always careful to be out of harm’s way, in case the absconders are armed.
Meanwhile, one of the peasants has already alerted security officials on mobile phone. In less than no time, the outlaws are apprehended.
The rest is history.
A short, 25-yearlong history that’s turning wondrous the citizens of this land.
Think about it.
A citizen in a remote part of this country eking out a living on his small plot of land to barely make ends meet. There he is and then, Eureka! Rwf300,000 that, in his and his wife’s lifetime of looking after their children (food, clothing, shelter, health, education, …), he has never so much as ‘smelt’.
Only to see the precious wad of notes being beseechingly dangled under his nose and spit at it!
All he had to do was ask the escapees to toss the bundle his way and make no move till after he’d counted it all, or he’d shout. Then look around to ensure he was alone, after which he’d shout an “Ok, go!” to them.
But no, our peasant had for some time been observing the other peasant with them, the one without a backpack, beforehand making trips to check out the ‘panya’ route to Burundi and knew he was up to no good. The citizen knew of the terrorists who had made incursions into Nyungwe, southern Rwanda, from there and killed and wounded fellow Rwandans.
No, this was nothing. His Girinka cow sufficed. After all, he was no longer in a Nyakatsi house. He had his family’s mutuelles-de-santé (health insurance). His children went to school free. More. For a mere, miserable Rwf300,000, betraying his passionately patriotic duty? No way!
And it was not only betraying his patriotism. There was Rwandans’ hard-earned unity, too. Leaders’ transparency and accountability all round. The pride of collectively aiming for the global high table, equal to the best; the think-big mind-set.
Remember, the peasant in this Burundi-bound-fugitives’ case is not a one-off incident. It was the same for two young ladies in Kinigi, northern Rwanda, some time ago. That incident – sponsored by a neighbour to our north, his usual effort in futility! – counted a number of innocents killed or wounded.
You’ll recall the young ladies who were on the way to their crop-fields. When they spotted two runaways who had escaped our security dragnet to hide in a ditch, they did not think twice. At the risk of being shot dead, the ladies raised the alarm and the terrorists were nabbed.
And so, I say again: think about it. For that’s the Rwandan peasantry of today.
In this Rwanda where before 1994 the peasants would have joined the marauding murderers to maim and kill.
Truly, it’s a study in positively phenomenal social transformation.
Unfortunately, this is a far cry from the conduct of some ‘primates’ – for lack of a descriptive word that doesn’t insult innocent true primates! – who roam the corridors of power.
Some leaders whose blotted-ego blinds them to their being servants of the citizenry. Or who are greedy self-seekers ready to swallow the smallest product of the citizenry’s sweat. Or so negligent with the lives of the citizenry that they resort to fibs in the hope of saving their skins.
And more, all whose stagnancy into the ways of pre-1994 should be shamed by the evolution of the citizen of this land into a selfless, far-sighted and future-focused, superior being.
Those logs-in-the-eye (for igitotsi-mu-jisho?) of our leadership are a menace to this being.
Luckily, these superior beings have a guardian of the friendship pact with them at the helm. And he is the kind who will not entertain the tiniest moment of a wink unless all is well. Talk about superior beings. Indeed, there are some that come once in the lifetime of a country!
But I digress. For, as I said, mine is to eulogise the citizenry of this land.