My people have an interesting saying that dares heavy rains to hit the village in order for the real huts to stand out. Yes the hut may appear elegant and strong but you may not say that until it survives a heavy storm. Our governments are not much different.
We have heard of the floods that have troubled Britain lately. But let us leave the British alone for now and look closer to home. Burundi’s capital Bujumbura recently experienced very heavy rains that claimed more than 50 lives.
We saw pictures of mudslides, washed away bridges and tarmac that had been washed away. Not forgetting the scenes of despair at the city morgue. At around the same time, heavy rains had hit Nairobi too and parts of the city were flooded although it was not as fatal as in Bujumbura. Last year we were treated to pictures of a flooded Thika superhighway.
In Kampala, places like Bwaise and industrial area are known to flood so regularly that it is now treated as a joke. The moment it starts raining anyone living in Bwaise will be advised to leave immediately because any slight delay may require one to sail home.
Even in Kigali where the drainage seems to be quite good, the Nyabugogo area has always been bullied by the waters. Rain water from Kimisagara has twice washed away the tarmac in Nyabugogo while people dying each time we have heavy rains is no longer news. Dar es Salaam has also had its fair share of floods when it rains heavily.
Like the adage about huts and rain, the issue of floods is one that hits us the same way, what often matters is the way we respond to it. To start with, we never really take weather reports to be serious and by ‘we’ I mean the audience and the people who are in the habit of giving us false ones.
But that aside, how we respond is what matters most. We know the flood prone areas and roads but how often do you find a traffic officer stopping people from driving into a flooded section of a road? A few years back the Nyabugogo area flooded and a small car was washed away and all its occupants died.
If the role of a government is to protect people then this should be seen to be happening in times of floods. The fact that these floods often affect the poor reflects badly on a government that claims to take responsibility of everyone’s life.
If we can have the police on the streets ready to beat protestors to pulp why can we not have the army helping people who are trapped and barring others from moving into danger when we have these heavy rains?
We should be doing more than just clearing up the mud after a heavy downpour. We should be assessing the situation and asking ourselves questions like, who messed up with the drainage? Authorities should sit and ask themselves whether they did enough to save lives because eventually the same thing will happen again and it is better to be ready.
Away from the floods, I am starting to think that it would be good if we could lobby to have corruption registered as an Olympic sport. That way, Ugandans can stop singing about Akii Bua and Kiprotich while the Kenyans will be assured of medals that are not related to long distance races.
In the last few days different corruption reports seem to have set new records. I read in one of the Ugandan papers about a suggestion box that cost 1.8 million Uganda shillings. Before I could think of a million suggestions there was the one of finance officials who spent 10 million to hire a projector for a workshop.
We know how the Kenyans don’t like being challenged in such ‘competitions’ and so they upped the game with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics offering a tender to, wait for this - supply Adobe Reader software. If you think that is not bad enough then you may need to know that it is now being alleged that the ‘Chinese’ company that got the tender to construct the standard gauge railway is actually a Kenyan one.
And one last thing; is it really possible that of all the Rwandans, Ugandans, Kenyans, Tanzanians and Burundians that live in those cold countries none of them can take part in the winter Olympics for our sake?
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of The New Times.