This past weekend, a tragedy befell members of the Rwandan community, both in the United States and back here at home.
In a drink driving incident, a group of young men and women, ranging from 21-27 years of age, were involved in an accident in Bedford, Texas that killed one, and left the others injured quite seriously (one is still in a coma as I write this column).
The driver, who is also a young Rwandan aged 23, will be charged with, among others, intoxication manslaughter, a charge that can result in a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail.
When The New Times reported this story on Monday, one reader wrote a comment on the website that I would like to share with you.
“Our young students in the US. This country needs you to build. We understand that you want to have fun and the US gives you more fun than Rwanda, but please, please when you go out, be smart…have a designated driver who will not drink. And when you go out, let the responsible among you take care of each other as brothers and sisters and when you see your friend drunk, park or something but don’t allow drunk friends on the wheel... This is a sincere cry from a country that needs you! RIP Lynker and sorry to the family.. :( I also ask the embassy to organise talks/meetings with the young students in the US to reduce these bad habits”).
I totally understand where she is coming from; however it seems that she is falling into the trap of assuming that youth are the only ones that engage in this dangerous pastime.
This is the furthest thing from the truth. It is my belief that young people are merely mirroring their role model’s behaviours. How many of us adults have a designated driver when we go on a night out? How many of us actually watch our booze consumption, trying to keep under the legally allowed blood alcohol limit?
How many of us park our cars home and take public transport on a night out?
If we the so-called responsible adults are unable to make good choices and be good role models, we shouldn’t then lecture young people about being “responsible” and reducing their “bad habits”.
As a Jewish mystic once said, “why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye”.
Do not think I’m saying that we shouldn’t give young people counsel; I just believe that we should walk the walk, and not just talk the walk.
As we go towards the holidays, we shall eat, drink and make merry. Let’s just do so responsibly; it’s almost 2015. My wish is that we don’t lose any more lives due to drink driving.
And on a merry-making note I must ask, does the Rwanda National Police (RNP) and Kigali City Council (KCC) have any specific holiday guidelines?
In years past Kigalians had to deal with City of Kigali ordinances decreeing that New Year’s Eve parties had to end at midnight sharp! Will we be left to enjoy ourselves or should we start planning trips to Kampala and Bujumbura?
Secondly, there is a fatwa of sorts against noise polluters and noise pollution.
Shall the RNP be driving around the city closing down party after party? Or shall they give us all a Christmas present and let us enjoy the holiday festivities?
Either way, I hope that they let us know early so that we can make our holiday plans.
Merry Christmas dear readers.
The writer is an editor at The New Times