Rwanda being Africa’s second most popular destination for hosting international conferences and events, after South Africa? This is a coup for this country, if ever there was one.
She has sprung many surprises before, true. But if it’s possible to clinch this position when a mere twenty-five years ago hardly anybody in the world could locate her on the map, isn’t it verily significant?
Not that before this, this country hadn’t tried everything to court attention – sadly, by regularly spilling her citizens’ blood.
But equally regularly, the world flittingly saw, read or heard about the blood and dismissed it as the expected primitive internecine slaughter of Africans. African kin, too, sneered at her as that weird neighbour whose family members are only happy when at loggerheads.
Position two is thus significant. In the sense that it has meant collective effort by a united, harmonious people. In villages, in the public service or private business, all pooled their energies to build this springboard.
For much as accomplishing this feat is a big deal, it’s only a springboard. In her think-big vison, this country is focused on loftier ideals.
The ideal of this field means up there, with the giants: the world’s elite meeting destinations.
I am told the giants’ line-up on this catwalk are Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Buenos Aires (Argentina), Copenhagen (Denmark), Istanbul (Turkey), Paris, Madrid (Spain), London, Seoul (South Korea), Singapore and on.
On seeing this list, though I’ve quoted but a few, I was exhilarated.
Because if true, it demonstrates one heart-warming thing. That the traditional giant cities of the West that were shoved down our throats from our childhood as home to every attraction on this earth do not necessarily make it at the head of the high table.
The highpoints of attraction dwell in capitals of erstwhile backwater countries we of the old school sometimes can hardly recognise. So, Rwanda can also skyrocket to the head of the high table.
Looking at the short line-up cited above, do you see one country that can offer the breath of fresh air that Rwanda does? And, by the way, “breath of fresh air” in the literal sense.
The clear sky, air, sun, stars, grass, trees, game in the wild, etc.
And the icing on the attraction cake: a nation with the vibrancy of youth, still in dynamic evolution. With its accompanying human heart, sincere smile, laughter, courtesy, on-n-on.
When thus wrapped up in Mother Nature in her pure form, who will long for sky-hugging glass buildings? Who will give a hoot for polluted sea, sand, snow, ski, sky, air and all that jazz that envelopes them? Who will not want to come out of it all and smell green?
For African capitals, if we’ve sprinted this far, soon none will be in competition either.
Today, when the world hears Kigali, does anybody ask “who” any longer?
They know the world’s city whose name is synonymous with order, cleanliness and green.
Also, when it comes to service delivery, we’ve seen that our boys and girls, their elder brothers and sisters, can compete with the best. The hospitality industry, too, is coming of age.
Of course, I am seized in trepidations when I think of some areas. But my biggest one perhaps is if any guest were to fall sick. Our health facilities and the service give me the jitters!
True, even India that’s touted as a health tourist destination owes that to the fact of giving foreigners special care over their own citizens.
That should stop being the Rwandan way. Our health officials have to up the ante.
Universal healthcare should not only be for all but also be top-notch, for visitors as for citizens.
Unfortunately, experience in our national referral hospitals (CHUK, King Faisal Hospital and Rwanda Military Hospital) is nothing to write home about. The private Legacy Clinics came with a lot of promise but has since sunk to the lethargy of the others.
It retains its cleanliness and order, sure, and Faisal tries, too. But you’ll wear your seat to its bare bones before you are through with treatment.
As an example I experienced, take RMH.
The doctor and nurse do their duty of giving you a prescription, yes. But on a busy day, go to the pharmacy and the disorderly queue is longer than a km. The medicine is identified but, to get it, you must first meet the cashier. And cashiers will be there and busy, alright.
Problem is, the benches of their building will be overflowing with humanity, all waiting.
Many hours later, go back to the pharmacy to secure your medicine and the dreaded queue is even longer. All of it if, luckily, the pharmacist didn’t annul the prescription for some reason!
Online, this process can be done in a jiffy and medicine will drop in an inpatient’s lap.
Surely, government has done everything to provide facilities and equipment. Maintaining them well and prompt service delivery are all the officials require. And to put their hearts in it.
This country is on the up and up in many areas. Officials, please, rise to the occasion!
The views expressed in this article are of the author.