You’ve seen it all over the social media. A snapshot of President Paul Kagame seemingly taking a snap chance to engage Ugandan President Yoweri K. Museveni in a ‘conversation’ at the swearing-in ceremony of Cyril Ramaphosa as South African president.
I’d eagerly give my pair of “danglin’-uns” to know their exchange – if it was an exchange. But first, those “-uns”, you’ll only get my drift if you know that I share roots with Mt. Muhabura. And that, yesteryears, you dared dangle those “-uns” before the area’s natives at your peril.
Anyway, the snapshot. Looking at it, my imagination ran away with me.
No, I couldn’t conceive what President Kagame would’ve been reading to his Ugandan counterpart as this one stonily stared in the void. But I can bet that it was not a nursery rhyme.
In fact, I could visualise President Kagame’s eyeball on his eyes before the snapshot and thereafter counting off pressing pleas, most likely in the latter’s mother tongue.
“One (indicates with a raised thumb). Your Excellency, if you don’t like my guts (click of camera) why don’t you live and let live? Forget me but let our people live in harmonious and mutually profitable coexistence as they’d like to. Why ruin their hopes?
“Two. You and I are here today, gone tomorrow. Shouldn’t we post-haste give our people the example of good self-governance; intra-E-African trade, shared gas-oil pipelines, standard gauge railway, etc., for joint advancement? The coalition of the willing you’ve as good as killed, wasn’t it a good starting point? But for you, wouldn’t the EAC now be vibrant?
“Three. When you hamper Rwanda’s chances of getting electricity from Kenya, Ethiopia, do you ever consider that you might go and, still, they happen? Moreover, that an empowered Rwanda is a better market for Ugandan goods and smoother transit to other markets like DRC and Burundi, though the latter be in oblivious slumber?
“Four. Much as you may delude yourself that Rwandans are divided, those bands of bandits you prop up, do you, in your mind of minds, think they have an iota of a chance in a million to cause any harm to happen to us? When you see that Rwanda has the power to see you in State House as you ‘accidentally’ entertain them, or when they are picked up like sitting ducks the moment they cross your threshold on their way out, what crosses your mind?
“Five. Tell me to my face, are you actually spoiling for war?”
Granted, a snap moment may not afford the enumeration of these questions. However, a summary of them wouldn’t have been impossible.
Call it my flight of fancy but my reasons for this conviction are founded on the rock-hard evidence of what I’ve seen before. That eyeball that burned President Museveni’s face, it has drilled many a face before and there are umpteen examples.
It must’ve been 1999 when a Belgian foreign affairs minister came visiting, having transited through D.R. Congo. DRC was, then more than today, haven to Rwandan fugitive génocidaires.
After assuring the Congolese that they needed not worry, he’d bend Rwandan leaders to their will, the minister breezed into Rwanda, ready to bark orders to her leaders. None were to bother the Congolese government about harbouring fugitive génocidaires.
When everybody thought the minister shouldn’t be met by anybody, then Vice-President Kagame persuaded them to let him. And volunteered to meet him.
First, the minister took close to an hour to be ushered into the V-P’s office. When finally he was, V-P Kagame looked him in the eye and curtly asked: “So, Hon. Minister, can you start going about fulfilling your promise to the Congolese?”
The minister cringed. How had it leaked? He apologised profusely and, to-date, he is bosom buddy to Rwanda!
One time at the UN headquarters, now-President Kagame was cornered by the Security Council big wigs to be grilled over the D.R. Congo again. He stared them down in front of then-Congolese President Kabila and spilled the beans over their designs on him. They craved the floor to swallow them!
More recently, in a closed session of the EAC Presidents’ summit, President Kagame laid bare all of President Museveni’s saboteur plans on Rwanda. Training grounds of Rwandan dissidents, all. The latter shamefacedly feigned ignorance and promised to investigate!
Uprightness and Truth, those are President Kagame’s middle names. And he’ll face any force, however powerful, to defend them.
So, whatever infantile tricks President Museveni may cook up, they’ll never wash. His shattered ego is beyond redemption.
But apart from rejecting being a stepping stone, Rwanda is not responsible for its shattering.
Holding her innocents in unknown dungeons; torturing them; parading their dead bodies to the diplomatic corps and all; leaking messages in valises diplomatiques to the media before they reach their Rwandan destination; etc. These only serve to expose President Museveni as an aging bull who’s been wounded by his inability to dominate the kraal that’s this region.
‘Dangle your “loose-‘uns” beyond the line, however, Excellency Museveni, and the warriors of these highlands won’t know on whose soil they’ll land.
It’s not as if this is news to you, is it? No, not if you’d care to think back.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.