From volcanoes with a lesson

Last week was an extraordinary week – full of incident and drama (although admittedly badly scripted). It started with an incoherent story in the Sunday Monitor by a man on the run. The story was meant to reinvent himself as a hero and man of the people.

Last week was an extraordinary week – full of incident and drama (although admittedly badly scripted). It started with an incoherent story in the Sunday Monitor by a man on the run. The story was meant to reinvent himself as a hero and man of the people.

And why not? Others have done it successfully before and grown rich in the bargain. The drama didn’t come off. It was not exactly a Box Office hit.

It was to be expected, of course. The author, who  happened to be actor and producer as well, was unimaginative. His claim to creativity lies only in his ability to rake up all the abusive words in the language and hurl them at decent people with all the venom he can muster.

This sorry attempt at creativity only left a bitter taste in the mouth and a horrible churning of the stomach that threatened to pour out its contents. The less said of this the better.

This horrible script was followed by the farcical antics of one Peter Erlinder, the lawyer and professor. The man was  arrested for denying the Genocide against the Tutsi.  Well, the antics  should have been laughable if the intention behind the farce was not to obscure the grave crimes for which he was arrested and charged.

Erlinder first feigned illness. He was rushed to hospital where the deceit was uncovered. Then he pretended to commit suicide and for a while fooled everyone.

But that, too, was exposed. In the midst of all this there were claims of other illnesses, including some form of instability. None of these washed with the police and prosecution authorities. His acting abilities were obviously severely limited.

Why the antics? Were they intended to elicit sympathy? I am sure the good lawyer would have been the first to admit that if this had been the response, it would have been akin to a miscarriage of justice.

Consider for a moment that this is a man accused of denying that the killing of more than a million Tutsi was Genocide despite compelling evidence that it was carefully planned and systematically executed.

Consider also that this is the man who is putting all his training and intellect to present genocidaires as saintly people unjustly accused (like whitewashing a tomb). I am tempted to think that the different deceptions are probably visited on him by the million victims whose death he wants to belittle. There might, after all, be justice from the after-world.

Were they also meant to fool his government into exerting its enormous pressure on the Rwandan government so as to have him released? If this was the intention, it did not work. There is such a thing as common decency and it is obviously in abundant supply in his own country.

I also suspect the blood of the more than one millionTutsi whose death he scornfully disimisses as the result of civilian conflict, will see to it that his intentions fail.

Rwanda, and indeed the rest of the world, does not come to a standstill because there are some people who want to invert truth or attempt to reinvent themselves. As the unlaughable farce was being played out and a nightamrish drama being enacted, there were real celebrations in Rwanda that were both entertaining and informative, and that confirmed that we are moving on regardless of efforts to drag us back.

In the middle of the week, there were the awards by Energy Globe Foundation to individuals from around the world who have been innovative and creative in the use of the world’s resources.

The awards were a celebration of humanity’s genius in balancing the desire to better itself and the need to protect our common home. That they were being held in Rwanda was an implicit recognition of the country’s efforts in taking good care of mother earth while at the same time improving the lives of Rwandans. Surely you cannot do that in the sort of climate our would-be heroes want us to believe obtains here.

Near the end of the week, we celebrated genuine creativity of Rwandan artistes. The occasion for this celebration was the presentation of the Salax Awards given to various artistes for their excellent creations in music, dance and crafts. Great talent was on show – ranging from children just breaking into their teens to seasoned performers, from traditional forms to adaptations from other lands, from hip-hop to gospel music.

It was evident that people were busy celebrating life and creating forms for its full enjoyment and have no time to listen to stories of doom or watch the pitiful antics of a grown man.

The week ended with a huge celebration at the foot of the volcanoes, home to our close relatives, who, it must be said, do not need fictitious props to prove their strength or heroism. Nor do they put on an act to attract attention. Of course, the younger gorillas will put on a show.

But it is usually a delightful expression of well-being and a genuine show-off. Nothing sinister about it. The silverback will thump its chest, not in an attempt to prove its strength to skeptics or  the easily swayed, or seek backing for dishonorable intentions, but because it is – yes – in charge.

And so, close to the home of this wonderful creature, the world came together to celebrate our collective efforts and successes in preserving our common home – ours and that of the gorillas and other creatures and biodiversity.

The highlight of the celebration was a ceremony that usually brings warmth to ordinary people – the naming of a baby, a cherished addition to the family. So, fourteen baby gorillas were given names in a celebration of birth and life and hope for the future.. I am sure the gorillas were bemused at the fuss their human relatives were making and the babies were up to their childish antics. I am also certain they were not grunting any dishonest or ill-bred remarks.

It seems to me there are lessons to learn from the decency and dignity of the gorillas. There is one condition, though – humility..

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