In October 2015 I ventured into the land of a thousand hills. Not so much out of curiosity but mostly because of two things. My incurable addiction to adventure and my longtime choice to be a part of Rotary and serve. So when the Rotaract Club of Nateete-Kampala made known their plans to travel and meet their partners of Rotaract Kigali City for a joint literacy project, I decided I’d join them and I did. On the last day before we took the evening bus, we visited the Kigali Memorial Centre. There, we saw with our own eyes, heard with our ears, the atrocities were committed about a group of people simply because they belonged to a certain ethnicity.
Early this year I read the Rwanda 1994 Genocide testimonies from survivors: and even when it’s one of the hardest books I’ve ever read (the pain will tear through your heart and quite often you’ll feel a huge lump of sorrow induced tears pressing hard against your throat), I felt a deeper reverence for the resistance that a country so torn before by such gruesomeness has put up and come out the other side and develop 12 times faster than its neighbors. I longed to have half the strength that survivors once wronged in the worst humanly possible way use to keep going. For once in my life I felt my curiosity drawn so much to another country other than Italy…and with each stroke of curiosity came admiration.
Now, how the country has since the 1994 Genocide, years behind all its neighbors and many African countries with regards to stability, has managed to clearly be ahead of all others in development with barely any natural resources is my point of intrigue. Yes, yes…I’ve had the democracy perspective conversations, the small and sparce population and many others including a very interesting OpEd by the brilliant Onyango Obbo; yet my mind keeps going through the maze with no sight of a finish exit. Still looking for a believable-to-me, more comprehensive answer. I am intrigued and as result, drawn to it in a hope to catch onto something that will open a sea of answers to my questions. I want all the answers to this mystery; because for me it still is.
I’ve recently visited again as a result of a longing to return there. Does it help that there’s so much positive difference I see and realize with each visit? No. How have the public car park so organised and clean? How are soldiers driving the equivalent of our H4DFs waiting in traffic behind civilian vehicles and not hooting incessantly? How is every boda boda religiously carrying an extra helmet for the passenger? Why is the air so damn fresh? Why are the buses equivalent of our own Pioneer so comfortable you don’t want to get to your destination? Why is the bus park a place you could sit and read your favorite book and not notice time fly. So many hows. Still looking for answers and no; this is not an appraisal of my own country, neither is it a failure to recognize our own strides. It is a fascination with something I don’t really understand YET. Rwanda, I will be back.