A Kinyarwanda idiom goes like, ‘umukire si umuntu.’ It was borrowed from a modern-day Luganda idiom that, ‘omugaga si muntu.’ Literally translated it means ‘a rich person is supernatural’. I guess you are aware of the fact that this ‘umukire’ tag could also be truly yours. Thanks to the branding by domestic staff (abakozi bo mu rugo), give to their employers out of deep respect.
Some like me are never at ease with it. Never mind though as it will always remain ours whether we fancy it or not. This is because in the mind of our baptizers, everything goes for us (turica tugakiza). In their eyes we get away with a lot. We demand so much from them yet the facilitation or reward for, is never commensurate with what they give. They are entitled to their opinion.
Any truth in it? I think there is. Almost subconsciously we exploit them. My own man at home is supposed to stay awake at night as a watchman. During day from dawn, he is expected to start with washing the limousine. He will then be gatekeeper, do laundry, iron clothes, besides tending to flowers. When called upon, he will dash to the Inyange Milk Zone, or check in at the shop around the corner to pick soap, bread and sugar. These items will suddenly be declared out of stock by the maid when ‘umukire’ or their child happen to be in the bathroom or sat at table for breakfast. It is normal life, for the employer and the employee.
And it is normal as well with nations, treating others or being treated as such. In international relations, the powerful do as they wish, while the modest are expected to play it meek. At least that is the impression I got watching Rwandan President Paul Kagame answer questions at an event organized by Semafor Africa. It was on the sidelines of the U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit, in Washington D.C.
I saw him for the 99th time respond to queries he otherwise would have ignored. If the ground was level, some questions would not get time. Against unrelenting pressure from the powerful supernatural, however, irrationality does not matter.
So, what are the trending illogical ones? Kigali, time and again, faces questions to do with Paul Rusesabagina and DRC’s government troubles with the M23 rebels. The former is an inmate serving a 25-year prison term after being convicted of terrorism acts against Rwandans. The latter is a neighboring country west-wards with a land mass 89 times bigger than the Rwanda it accuses of suffocating it. The allegation is military support to M23! Are you kidding me?
No, I am not. First with Rusesabagina. A court in Rwanda found him guilty of the crimes he committed. Still, some of the country’s powerful allies in the West want him released unconditionally. They simply cannot accept that someone idolized by their film industry is in jail. Moreover, he was crowned hero by a head of the most powerful state in the world, for playing a starring role in a movie about the Genocide against the Tutsi. Then how dare anyone else punish him for anything? He who also is a permanent resident in America?
Typical Rwanda won’t bend though. For this very reason pressure against it shall be sustained. Afterall, aren’t the powerful supposed to be perceived by the modest as the supernatural? Regardless of the surrounding circumstances, shouldn’t they get all their wishes?
President Kagame recently felt the need to address this issue in the most succinct of ways ever. At the earlier mentioned Semafor Africa Summit, he inevitably was confronted with the ‘release Rusesabagina’ recurrence. Below is his categorical response.
“We will make it clear: there isn’t anybody going to come from anywhere to bully us into something to do with our lives and we accept it. Maybe make an invasion and overrun the country – you can do that,” Kagame told reporters on Wednesday, December 14.
How does Kigali survive the relentless push? It is by means of never giving up appealing to logic with truth. Under the leadership of President Kagame, resisting resiliently characterizes government. Indeed, his administration’s performance has been satisfactory, especially since no invasion has happened yet. Even under sustained illegitimate, unfair pressure, government has stood ground.
Talk about unfairness. Rwanda ironically keeps getting stick where it expects help. Instead of questioning DRC on their nearly three-decades affair with anti-Kigali armed groups, we see Kinshasa offered a shoulder to cry on. Forces on its territory hostile to Kigali include FDLR and MRCD-FLN.
You know how the powerful do not necessarily have to sound reasonable. Whenever for their end goals someone must be answerable, they will hold that someone accountable no matter how flimsy the grounds are. This is exactly the case with the chaos in eastern DRC. The UN has permanently failed to restore peace there, but somehow Rwanda gets conveniently blamed. Through a deliberate and sustained deviation campaign, the victims of misrule within and out of DRC are made to look as though they were the cause of it all.
How is it acceptable that Rwanda shoulders burdens relating to Kinshasa’s failure to defeat or make peace with the M23 rebels? Even more puzzling is how presumably smarter West agrees to consistently parrot back unfounded information on behalf of the chubby cheeked country! It is a perfect example of how the rich within their inherent supernatural powers, if not rights, can easily disregard valid opinion, even, “with something to do with our lives.” Abakire si abantu!