THE main news out of last week was the storming of Tripoli by Libyan rebels following a five-month war and with help from NATO jets. Qaddafi and sons are still on the run as of today ensuring that Libya remains in the headlines even as the conflict winds down.
One hopes that this victory will make our lives cheaper through a reduced cost of petroleum but with the Syrians still at it, one is reluctant to bank on this hope.
Back home, the story that struck me was that the main city cemetery will be closed to funerals effective this week according to the City Mayor, William Ndizeye.
The cemetery in Remera has run out of space to conduct new burials and while this is obvious to anyone who has had to pay the cemetery a visit, I don’t think there had been any word of an alternative site before the news of the closure came out.
As anyone who has visited the cemetery can tell you, it is more than a little disturbing to see that the graves were so closely set together that one would see people walking and standing all over them.
Personally, despite a frosty relationship with organised religion, this sight counted, if not as a bad omen, as a casual disregard for the souls of the departed.
The new cemetery in Rusorora is said to be more spacious than the existing one and hopefully, we’ll all be spared the sight of mourners trampling over graves.
The article on this decision by the mayor dispensed with this information within the first four paragraphs before taking a morbid turn.
Without any preamble, the writer went on to pass on details of the environmental danger of graves to ground water and cremation.
The cherry came with the declaration by the cooperative managing the cemetery that in 20 years, a decision will be taken on whether to build over the graves or bury more people in the same space.
I can’t think of a more insensitive way to tell people that their dearly departed area is an environmental hazard and that they’re likely to be built over or have their resting places ‘recycled’.
Oh, and while you’re at it, you better provide for cremation while you’re still alive, can’t have your body taking up space.
In less morbid news, the Government of Rwanda pledged US$100,000 towards relief for Somalis who are experiencing a famine.
It was a beautiful gesture towards a people who have to contend with hunger on top of insecurity, fundamentalist Islamic rule and several other problems that result from anarchy. There was only one thing that took the shine off the country’s humanitarian act.
Due to increased focus on the famine in the Horn of Africa, the World Food Programme [WFP] is running out of funds to avert a food crisis in camps, right here in Rwanda, holding refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It turns out that the WFP will have to cut rations to the refugees by half this Thursday if nothing changes. This may sound attractive to a middle class person on a crash diet but it is a rather grim prospect for anyone dependent on these rations.
The Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs appears to have been caught unawares by this development and as the shortfall is US$3.8 million, there’s only so much they can do without having budgeted for it.
We should help as many people as we can within our means but we should not forget the Congolese refugees on our territory who also need assistance but whose plight is not making headlines.
Happy Eid al-Fitr.