Reading yesterday’s edition of The New Times, I was taken aback by a story in the leisure pages. Normally, the comings and goings of Rwandan celebrities aren’t my cup of tea.
However, the article, “The saga behind the canceling of the Keza Fashion show” written by Linda Mbabazi, was shocking to my sense of simple decorum.
To cut a long story short, the gala, which was supposed to take place at the Heaven Restaurant, was unceremoniously cancelled by the police under orders from the City Council.
Police spokesman John Uwamungu, said that the show was abruptly called off because the organizers had deliberately decided to go ahead without seeking approval from KCC.
Now, I’m pretty sure that the hacks over at KCC shall wave around some outdated and obscure law that actually gave them the right to cancel the fashion show but that doesn’t answer this question, “did they really have to?”
As an auxiliary member of the legal profession, my first instinct is to say that the KCC and the Police had every right, and responsibility, to follow the exact letter of the law and execute it. However, the normal citizen in me refuses to concur with this dogmatic view of things.
I am of the view that the Law and the Public Interest are intrinsically linked: ‘the Law is enacted to protect the Public Interest’. The flip side of that argument is that when there isn’t any Public Interest involved, then the Law shouldn’t be invoked.
The Bible tells us that the “Sabbath was made for Man, and not Man for the Sabbath”: well, let me paraphrase this Great Book. “The Law was made for Man, and not the Man made for the Law.
Therefore, any Law (and therefore its execution) has to be centered on its benefit to the people it’s meant to regulate. I believe that the KCC dropped the ball on this one.
Let’s look at the facts and gauge whether the KCC was correct to call in the law enforcement officers.
The fashion show, which was meant to honor thirty-eight women from the Buranga Women’s Cooperative who design luxury jewelry, was to take place, as I had said earlier, at Heaven Restaurant in Kiyovu at 6 pm, Sunday.
Now, if the event included a noisy concert, launch of a new nightclub or anything that could have been described as causing inconvenience then maybe I would have understood the whole hullabaloo.
However, as someone who has attended fashion shows before, I have to tell you that they aren’t very exciting noisy events.
The fact that it was to be held at a restaurant, with limited sitting and standing space, tells you that it wasn’t meant to be packed with all and sundry.
And the crowd that actually attends these kinds of functions isn’t the younger crowd who often need to be saved from themselves. So, I ask, in whose interest was this fashion show stopped for? Certainly not mine.
Was someone in KCC not given an invitation? While this fashion event’s cancellation hasn’t given me any sleepless nights, I’m worried about what kind of message the KCC is sending and whether good and sober judgment was used by the fellows at City Hall.
This issue certainly doesn’t stop here because this action has wrought a certain precedent.
Let’s say, for example, that I am a painter who wants to have a small exhibition of my works of art at a friends bar.
Will I have to walk to City Hall in Nyarugenge to ask for ‘permission?’ Why should I? Because if I don’t the Police will come and lower the paintings off the wall?
Sounds ridiculous! It should, because that’s what this entire thing is. It’s a manifestation of bureaucracy trumping good old common sense.
I think that the KCC overstepped their bounds. Not in a legal sense, mind you. I must reiterate that I’m sure that KCC and the Police didn’t do anything that anyone could deem illegal.
However, I feel that maybe KCC shouldn’t use a one size fits all approach to public events. For a big concert, yes. Why? Because there needs to be traffic control and such, which needs a police presence to ensure security. But I can’t believe that the same was needed in this sad occasion.