The news that Rwandair, the national airline, was commencing flights to Libreville – Gabon did not get nearly enough coverage in my opinion. It may not seem like a big deal given the state of Rwanda – Gabon relations today but by flying to Libreville, Rwandair’s destinations now stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.
It is also only the third East African airline to cross the East Africa – West & Central Africa fault line, the same fault line that marks the boundary between Anglophone and Francophone Africa.
I never quite believed that Africa was so firmly split into linguistic blocks until I carried out light research on the Libreville airport, named after the first President of Gabon – Leon M’ba, and discovered that most airlines serving the airport were from French-speaking West Africa.
From East Africa, only continental giants Ethiopian and Kenya Airways flew there. It can of course be said that this situation is a result of historical as well as economic ties between Gabon and West Africa.
However, the lack of economic ties with our region is not a result of a lack of transportation links.
With Rwandair flying to Libreville one can hope that increased exchanges between our regions, whether commercial or cultural, may help forge one more link towards a more inter-dependent Africa.
I think it will be interesting to see what new destination Rwandair flies to next, Nigeria perhaps?
Last week, President Kagame made the news for engaging a British journalist on the micro-blogging website Tweeter.
As usual, some in the press took time to dust off the familiar charges of ‘intolerance’ for criticism and lack of political space when the President expressed his displeasure at the journalist’s arrogance.
This was a little unfair on His Excellency who had set up a Twitter account and was engaging with all comers, fans and critics alike.
It’s hard to imagine any President, let alone one who is supposed to be so intolerant, taking the time out to respond to a critic in so public a forum.
I feel like perhaps the uniqueness of that interaction was not highlighted enough.
The President and Rwandair obviously have their eyes on a future that does not entail a day of judgment when God [or is it His son?] snatches up his most ardent believers and leaves the rest of humanity to tussle it out with the Devil.
Or if they do, they cannot have believed that judgment day was the 21st of May 2011, judging by their actions at least. Harold Camping, an 89-year old American evangelical broadcaster, passed the word around that this was the day of reckoning.
Like the 1st of January 2000, this day came and went like any other with the huge earthquake rolling from timezone to timezone failing to materialise [Y2k anyone?].
At the time of writing, some atheists in America were holding ‘rapture’ parties and mocking the believers for their failed prediction while Mr. Camping was not taking or returning any calls.
It seems to me that the story of judgement day and the end of the world has been floating around for the last two thousand years [possibly longer] and that each time believers have been confounded so that each time a new date is mentioned, it surprises me how many people believe it once again.
It is entirely possible that the world as we know it may end abruptly but it seems even more likely that the appointed day will come and go without so much as a whimper.
The focus of believers should perhaps be drawn towards resolving the world’s endemic problems like poverty and disease, which they can do something about, rather than sitting and waiting for a cataclysmic global earthquake before which they can only pray and hope that their God has chosen them.
But maybe that’s just the view of a non-religious writer so to make things interesting, next time a date is touted as judgment day I would like to make a bet with any believer that the next day, and the day after that, we will all be around.
It will cost all this person’s worldly possessions that s/he would not, in any case, require in the next world.