Sunday 28th July 2013
And so, Rwandans, here you are, exactly 11.7 million of you. Rapidly rising towards 12 million; breathing, eating, thinking, working, all. As you take in, so do you discharge. Because, as Nature decreed it, whatever goes in must come out. Just as whatever goes up must come down, as Isaac Newton told us, that long ago. Of course, that apple he observed falling hadn’t gone up; it’d been born up!
Still, the little fib aside, whatever is discharged here in Rwanda, call it waste, where does it go?
Take you, urbanites of Kigali. For instance, look at the rise from Kinamba up Nyarugenge summit, whereupon sits the city centre and its exploding number of high-rise hotels, shopping malls, Eiffel Tower-domed multi-storeys (eh, Steven?), etc. Go even higher, all the way to the riotous mix of complex and simplex dwellings of Biryogo, Nyamirambo, on and up yet, scaling Mt Kigali to its top. Now multiply with the areas of Kigali.
All that mass of humanity, local and foreign, pray, whither goes their waste?
Kigali has no central sewage system. Which means that many buildings depend on septic tanks for their waste disposal. Much as such sewage treatment may not pose any immediate danger, we know that there are many dwellings with no such disposal facilities. We know, too, that there are areas that have open sewers, what Kigalois are comfortable to call ruhurura, even if that ruhurura monster is known to swallow them when it floods up.
All of which, summed up, goes to show you, dear Kigalois, that you are sitting on a monumental powder keg.
If anything were to shake up Kigali, God forbid, and for some reason these hills were to open up, Kigalois’d be history. If Kigali were to suddenly turn earthquake-prone like China, these hills decorating the city landscape with undulating beauty would be death traps.
Yet as it is, already the whole country and adjoining areas are saddled with another eerily similar powder keg but of bigger magnitude. The beautiful inland lake that hems in the whole western part of Rwanda and is shared with DR Congo (DRC) to the west, Lake Kivu, can be more deadly than Cameroonian Lake Nyos that killed thousands in 1986.
Lake Kivu is twice as deep as Lake Nyos and can therefore store more gas. Bacteria in the lake are chugging out methane. And, in case you didn’t know, Lake Kivu is a crater lake. Which means that that tall tale about Nyiransibura is nothing but a myth (eh, Vianney Sh….?) But, more seriously, it means there is magma below the lake that’s spewing out carbon dioxide – CO2, remember? (Hey, can this know-all thing – desktop – write these Chemistry signs correctly?)
That methane and that CO2, in the midst of a population of more than 2 million that lives around Lake Kivu, constitute a natural disaster on a scale bigger than the Tsunami of 2004.
For the sake of those who were too young to comprehend, or those whose memory would snap if stretched back that far (!), that Indian Ocean Tsunami counted more than 300,000 deaths, take or give a hundred, and reached countries as far apart as Indonesia and South Africa, India and Kenya and as close as Myanmar (Humm? I can hear you ask!) and The Maldives.
Eight countries suffered major casualties and damage; six, some casualties and damage; six, some damage; and 49 lost citizens who happened to be in the area. All of which means that you, in Rwanda, and your neighbours in eastern DRC and Burundi are in mortal danger.
But, as Rwandans say, as God unleashes famine, so does His Grace provide a source of nourishment. It’s in the same vein that there is an escape route from the looming danger of that waste under the surface, especially in Kigali, and those gases of Lake Kivu. As the “Kraken” (underground-and-lake monster) can awaken, so can it turn into a boon.
With a central sewage system and exploitation of the residue and the gases, waste and gases can be turned into much-needed energy to help in many things: cooking, lighting, et al.
Unknowingly then, rather than sit on and with danger, Rwandans are sitting on and with a gold-oil mine, with an added plus. The plus being that, whereas gold and oil carry their attraction curse with them, waste and gas carry their repellent smell and danger with them. Which means that nobody will kill you over them.
So, Rwandans, happy mining! Of course, there is the act of mining and there is the need to protect the environment and they need resources. But the world knows how protective of your ‘Agaciro’ you can be, when it comes to that. However big the problem may be, it cannot beat your resilience when it comes to answering the call to build a better future.
All ye, citizens of this land, let’s ignore the cacophony abroad over DRC and let’s laugh all the way to Rwanda Revenues Authority. Yes, it’s “The Taxes” or it’s “The Kraken Wakes”!