As I say “goodbye” to 2014 and “hello” to 2015, I want to look back at this year and appreciate it for what it was, an ‘Annus Interesse’ (an interesting year). Yes, it had its challenges, but on the whole, it was a year that was full of learning experiences. And I largely blame (and thank) China for that.
Ever eaten something that you thought you’d never let pass through your mouth? Well, I happily munched on a spicy frog, dripping in spice and oil. And to my surprise it was delicious; the Chinese were on to something here. I did, however, refuse to take a bite of sheep’s penis; my masculinity simply wouldn’t let me. Others who tried it however found it delightful and oddly crunchy.
Eating the frog was huge for me. As all of us know, Rwandans are extremely conservative people. We like what we like and don’t tell us different. I mean, look at our national cuisine, boiled sweet potatoes and beans; it is as bland as bland can be. Living in Asia opened my palate to new tastes and flavors. Don’t get me wrong though, I still have the food preference of a villager. Give me my starch, meat sauce and legumes and I’m happy.
I went hiking. Yes, me. Hiking. I spent half the day trekking up a mountain and the Yunmeng Mountain Forest Park, sweating profusely and wishing death upon the person who convinced me to come with them. And guess what? Standing close to the summit (I never made it to the top, I won’t lie) and looking at the breathtaking view, I realised that it would be one of the memories that I would keep to my dying days.
Mind you, there were some memories that were deleted as quickly as possible. The pollution, the cold dry winter, the hot dry summer, the crammed subway system, the unsanitary restaurants and the people who shamelessly pointed at me and giggled. But all in all, the experience opened my eyes and helped me embrace further the differences that make us, human beings, so interesting.
Beyond China, 2014 was the year that reiterated to me the power of the pen. I will not bring up the noise pollution debate because there is no point flogging that horse any longer, it’s long dead. However, through a few blog posts I was given the opportunity to meet and discuss the issue with Kigali’s highest official.
On countless occasions people have walked up to me and thanked me for writing a piece on topic ‘such and such’. “Thank you for speaking for us”, they often say. What I often wondered was, why were they waiting to be spoken for? Social media is free. Blogs don’t cost a thing.
So while 2014 has showed me that my voice counts for something, perhaps 2015 can prove to be the year that hundreds more voices are heard as well. More Rwandans need to be talking about the issues that are important to them.
It’s just my luck that I’m the last columnist on the Opinion page this year, so I guess it falls on me to give the 2015 ‘blessing’. Here goes.
New Year’s Resolutions are a huge deal nowadays but I try to avoid them like the plague. They are usually impossible to attain and the entire exercise makes one feel like a failure in life.
However, if you do make one, I wish you the very best of luck. Have a great, and safe 2015 and may you enjoy all the blessings in life. And please, don’t drink and drive tonight. Let no one lose his or her life or suffer harm right on the cusp of the New Year.
The author is an editor at The New Times