TWO Onatracom bus drivers were standing amidst an angry mob of university staff who had been touring the Akagera National Park.
After a long day in the park, they were all tired and wanted the nearest exit home; which was through the northern gate.
The first driver was happy to do so. The second driver refused outright. He had been through that route before and was adamant there was no way he would drive a bus down that road.
After heated debates, it was finally agreed the first driver would help drive the second bus through the tricky patch. As it turned out, the second driver was right.
The bad patch was a v-curve on the side of a very steep hill. The buses were too long to turn at such a curve with a huge risk of falling over. Worse still, there was no turning back because the road downwards was stony, narrow and steep.
There were only two options, to move forward or fall below. Finally, it was the second driver who had the nerve to cross over the two empty buses, with everyone looking on from a distance.
But such is life that we are always at the cross roads. You wish to do something you know and feel is right, but peer pressure or societal demands consistently pull you back to do as they will.
The sad thing about this is you lose either way. If you cede to the demand and it works through, you have to be a good loser. If it doesn’t work through, you will still be held responsible. Sometimes, you wonder which way democracy falls. Does it always have to be with the majority? Suppose the majority is wrong?
We human beings are a dilemma; like an electrometer that keeps flipping up and down with the current flow. As a society, we will hold a person in the highest esteem and make him feel like he is next to God himself.
Let him make one mistake or a minority decision, and everyone goes up in arms, forgetting all that had been done before. Interestingly, if the unpopular decision finally reaps good harvest, the meter immediately flips up again, forgetting all the resistance to it that had been put up before.
What I imagine makes us so hard to please is that, by nature, we are a selfish folk. We are more comfortable receiving than giving, especially if this demands more resources and manpower than we are willing to give;
unless of course you become a hero or a Good Samaritan with a high level of social responsibility. But they too face a lot of challenges in that people end up expecting too much of them in return for little. As such, you will find that most heroes in history have exited early, either at the hand of death or a fall from grace, once they fail to provide as is highly expected.
A hero fights for a cause. Once done, society will spit him out at the first opportunity, to take over the harvest. Good Samaritans, like Mother Theresa, just keep on going selflessly, earning themselves a hundred plus more people to support, and a lot more hard work than is worth their keep.
But on the other hand, what would we do without social demands? As is evidenced all over the world, societies that have allowed unchecked freedom of expression have seen an equivalent rise in moral degradation.
In our African culture, this freedom, if enabled without control can be easily abused and only lead to worse conflicting situations. Even as I write this, it gets more confusing. There are lots of checks and balances in taking decisions that might affect especially the immediate community or society you live in.
Always at the crossroads, a person will have to decide how far he or she can go in achieving what they desire, outside of societal demands, and whether the repercussions for rebelling are worth the fight. At the end of the day, it’s your happiness that counts. Perhaps it’s better to have tried and failed than to die wishing you had tried.
Catherine Gashegu is a social commentator