Would you imagine that the despotic regime in Kigali had categorically declared that the country was too small to accommodate any more of its children? The regime used all forms of explanations including “the glass is full” imagery.
In this imagery, Rwanda was compared to a glass full of water, upon which, adding more was impossible as a matter of fact. Any more added water would ‘splash on the sides’.
The imagery had a lot of implications; it above all meant that the water falling on the sides would be a waste. But what was the waste in this case?
The regime had in other words condemned the Tutsi to death. Comparing them to water about to be poured was enough signal that if they tried to enter the country, they would be killed.
There is a very interesting Kiswahili proverb which says that, “ Maji yakisha mwajika hayewezi kuzorewa,” literally meaning that water that is powered on the ground cannot be recovered.
There was little wonder therefore that Tutsi massacres and the ultimate Genocide started. Unfortunately, what the regime said was further echoed by a number of international media.
The BBC for example described Rwanda as a ‘very tiny central African state’ and television screens could show insistently how tiny the country was using a ‘dot’. You could see convincingly, a very small ‘dot’ in the heart of Africa showing the ‘full glass’.
The ‘dot’ reference of the country did not only confuse the politically naive, but also politically experienced people. Many Rwandans who were involved in the liberation struggle started re-thinking their venture and inside their minds thousands of thoughts were in a whirlpool.
I was not spared either of the trying moments! The ‘charm’ was at its best and I had to seek god’s help and fortunately I had one, very near, that helped me to overcome the dangerous ‘charm’.
Nonetheless, had it not been the liberation, the regime was slowly convincing the world that the country was too small to accommodate any other people. And at its worst, it was managing to convince even the victims that the country was too tiny. The propaganda was very massive and the architects had done a ‘good study’.
What happened when the despotic regime was ousted? A number of arrangements had been made and the remnants of the regime fled the country to neighbouring countries. This, though, is not my concern today and I won’t comment much on it.
As they were leaving, however, there was an exodus of people who had long died to touch the soil of their motherland. This is when I saw how people were indeed eager to see their country again, and some, for the first time.
An old man at Gatuna sat down for hours, puzzled without knowing what to do next, after stepping in Rwanda. He knelt down and kissed the ground a number of times and then proceeded to the interior of the country.
“Such a person’s mind could not have been deterred by such a simple lie,” I told myself.
All returnees were settled together with all those who were still in the country. But whenever I read between the lines of many people, they were convinced that the country was not having a problem, because many other Rwandans had fled the country.
This was further evidenced when people started grabbing empty ramshackled houses. It was not only done by returnees, but people who were in Rwanda before the genocide too, were involved in the same thing.
People had been fooled that the country was too small to accommodate them all, and they ignorantly thought that the situation was - ‘survival for the fittest’.
They lived with this illusion and were only disillusioned when there was another exodus of people who had been ‘herded’ into the jungles of neighbouring countries. A long massive river-like body of moving people headed to Rwanda.
They were tired of being held hostage by a regime that carried out the genocide. Contrary to the expectation of many, all of them were settled in the country and there was nobody complaining.
I thus saw the liberation completely disproving the imagery, ‘the glass is full’. The very small ‘dot’ lie, could not survive the big wave of liberation either. Rwanda is a very small land locked country. So what?