Like they say in Kinyarwanda, “A bird that does not fly will never know where there is a millet harvest” (inyoni itagurutse ntimenya aho bweze – assuming “bwe” refers to millet!). Conversely, I’d say “A bird that does not fly will never know that millet harvest elsewhere is not necessarily better than that at home”.
Uti why? Think of a rich housing estate in South Africa. It means a large area fenced off – most probably with electric fencing – from the rest of humanity. The one nearest the city centre is some 20 km away, far from the maddening crowds. All very rich millet harvest when you behold it, isn’t it?
Unlike in Kigali, once in that estate you’ll be happy that you are not living in an impenetrable fortress. Which means that once you open your house, right at your threshold you’re in the free, open world. Every single house is not fenced off. A privileged Rwandan will have parked their car right at the door, without even bothering to lock it.
You’ll be confident that no thieves or robbers can ever get within a km of your house because the four entry points into the estate are guarded more heavily than 1930 Prison. (Which is an understatement going by the way prisoners freely walk in and out of 1930!) Rather, those entrances are guarded as heavily as what in USA they used to call an Alcatraz.
To own a house in that estate, you’ll have had to own a car in the first place, since there is no public transport in the vicinity. You can take a taxi (taxi voiture, remember) to the entrances, alright, but that may mean a number of kilometres of walking inside the estate before you reach your house.
If you have one family car, everybody else is grounded if you’re away with it. Don’t forget, your domestic help, if you need one, has to be provided with similar transport. And it means you’ll have to have the time to pick your family members from, and drop them at, whatever point they choose. And the domestic workers, wherever they can get public transport.
All of it good for everybody and for workers’ rights, right?
Wrong, because it won’t always be your immediate family and worker alone that’ll need to get to your house by their means – those means being their legs, for instance. You are an African, remember. And being African, you have a family that’s not only limited to your children, their mother, your parents and siblings.
Being African, your house does not only belong to you but also to your extended family and friends, and their families and friends. Families and friends who have the right to pick a ‘taxi moto’ (motorcycle taxi) and travel to, and enter, your house unannounced.
And that begins to look like no harvest at all, when you come to think of it. South Africa, of course, is here used as an example, since it is fast headed to Nirvana, wherein dwell the developed countries.
So, am I saying that we should be contented with what we have, our poor harvest? Everybody hemmed in, inside their small fortresses, surrounded by forbidding concrete walls, those who can afford them? Shabby hedges, those who can’t?
Somebody said show them a contended man and they’ll show you a foolish man. I can’t agree more. I’m saying that we should not sit down and wear the Cheshire cat smile because we’re contented over the little we have. Nor should our advanced brethren/sistren over the much they have. Let’s search constantly for what’s better, borrowing the best from each other.
Let’s admit it, every kind of fencing is an eyesore. Around the house or the estate. And they can all be done away with. And, come to think of it, the idea of stopping the fencing-off of houses was mooted in Kigali, only it slowly died out. Why?
Imagine Kigali without concrete walls around the houses. Green compound joining green compound to form a succession of rolling hills that are covered in green, interspersed with beautiful trees and pathways or driveways. Yes, there can be paved places at the back that can be hemmed in for houses with outer kitchens, but those should be kept to a minimum.
And for security, the reason for those concretes, in the first place? Now, there is no country that does not own a security force of some kind. There is the police, the army and sundry other security organs. Deploy them to guard the peace, for they are in the public employ exactly for that. Kigali is doing that and hasn’t it worked wonders? Those wonders should eliminate the walls!
For, there was a time the scream was up: “Arms on the streets!” Now if there are no arms on the streets, the scream will be up: “We want our beloved armed guys back on the streets!” That’s called the audacity of daring. Rwanda has it in bundles and what are friends for, if not for sharing? Keep the peace by any means legal and lovely!
It was hard for Americans to dare emulate in Louisiana, but in the end they saw that, like in Rwanda, the army can serve its people without necessarily “enhanced-interrogating” its enemy!