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Started by Sani Danbaffa, February 25, 2009, 06:47:03 PM

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Sani Danbaffa

A concerned Nigerian found the attached somewhere and coppied me. I strongly hope Nigerians would find it useful.

The road to Kigali
By Reuben Abati I have just returned from Rwanda: a post-conflict society in transition, and I am angry with Nigeria. Fourteen years ago, Rwanda, former Belgian colony was a killing field; in the night of April 6, 1994 alone, about 800, 000 Rwandese: men, women children were killed in one of the worst genocides in recent history. Blood flowed freely on the streets of Kigali and other parts of the country. But today there is no trace of war on the streets of Rwanda except perhaps outside Kigali and may be on the walls of the parliament building at Ministeri, with bullet holes which have deliberately been left as reminders of that country's encounter with the beast in human nature.
The Rwandese have been able to hide the scars of war, and build a new society that works. Twenty nine years after its own civil war, Nigeria has refused to function. It carries on as if it is still in a state of war. Nigeria is a perfect example of a failed post-conflict society, the difference between it and Rwanda is to be sought in the arena of leadership. The Hotel des Mille Collines where I stayed and all the roads leading to it and virtually every other section of Kigali from Kacyiru to Remera, to Gachuriro to Nyatarama to Nyamirando, Kimironko, Kimiurura and Kibagabaga were major battlegrounds, they were all littered with bodies that were later eaten up by dogs: broken dreams and lives. But today, the nation of a thousand hills has cleaned up the mess of war.

Hotel des Milles Collines, the same hotel in the famous film Hotel Rwanda, is undergoing renovation, its notorious swimming pool which stranded citizens turned into a source of drinking water during the war, is boarded off, across the city, there is so much serenity. A Ministry of Public Infrastructure ensures that basic necessities that constitute a source of agony in Nigeria, serve as true evidence of how well Rwanda has been able to confront its problems. There are no potholes on the roads, electricity supply is taken for granted, 24/7 all year-round, there is pipe borne water. The whole city is littered with trees and in both poor and rich neighbourhoods, there is a sense of human dignity, The use of polythene nylon is forbidden in Rwanda, and so there are no pure water sachets littering the streets. The city is so squeaky clean it is embarrassing. I looked for the mountains of dirt that dot the Nigerian landscape, I could only see heights and valleys and a disciplined and safe society where people can walk about in the dead of the night and not fear any attack. I looked forward to power outage but that did not happen. Even the market at Kimironko is so organized I dare not compare it with any of the mad quarters we call markets in Nigerian towns and cities. The rich neighbourhoods of Gachuriro and Nyaratarama are so well laid out, they make many of Nigeria's rich neighbourhoods look like slums.

And yet this is in a landlocked country of 9 million people who after independence in 1959 began to play the politics of hate that would lead to a sad explosion on April 6, 1994 shortly after the plane carrying then President Juvenal Habyarimana crashed. Habyarimana was a Hutu.

In Rwanda before 1994, ethnic identity determined citizenship rights and privileges. The Belgian colonizers had found it convenient to divide these people who speak the same language and who used to see themselves as one people with different social classes. Social classes of old were soon turned into ethnic groups by the colonizer, and by favouring one group against the other, old ties were gradually destroyed. Rwanda became atomized among the Hutu (75%), the Tutsi (24%) and the Twa (1 %). The Belgians favoured the Tutsi whom they considered more intelligent, and at independence they more or less handed over power and privileges and a superior status to the Tutsi. The ground for future implosion had been prepared. The Hutu revolution began early in 1959.

By 1990 the wave of ethnic Hutu nationalism and resentment had grown as the Hutu elite and the poor began to refer to the Tutsi as cockroaches that must be exterminated. The Ten Commandments of Hutu as articulated is one of the worst declarations of organised hate in human history. The death of Habyarimana, the second Hutu President eventually set the dogs of war onto the streets. The Tutsis were the main victims, the Hutu plan was to exterminate all of them including children. As the genocide spread, the international community failed to intervene on time. The cost was horrendous.

Twenty nine years after its own civil war, Nigeria is yet to recover. Rwanda is still mired in the febrile politics of the Great Lakes region but it has made much better effort at dealing with citizenship and identity questions at home. The spread of armed robbery in Nigeria is often traced to the civil war, and poverty, but there is no armed robbery in Rwanda, and the poor do not carry weapons against the rich. Public officials are efficient; they do not solicit for bribe. The policemen dress smartly, and they do not harass citizens or visitors with rifles. I looked for policemen without shoes or without caps or with dirty, torn uniforms, I couldn't find any. They have okada in Rwanda too. But every okada man wears a uniform and even the helmets have contact telephone numbers inscribed on them. The motorcycles in Rwanda carry only one passenger at a time, and I did not see any passenger refusing to use the safety helmet, or anyone relieving their bowels by the roadside.

I have heard the argument that the reason Nigerians are difficult and ungovernable is because they live under harsh conditions. In Rwanda Value Added Tax is 18%, PAYE is 30%, rent is between $200 - $300 per month, for a modest three-bedroom house, a sim card (MTN or Rwanda Cell) is 1,000 FRW (N250). But the people obey the law and every evening they troop out to the many bars and restaurants in Kigali to enjoy their Mutzig (tastes like Star) or Primus (tastes like Gulder) Beer. Rwanda is something of a police state. The government does not tolerate corruption, there is a National Office of the Ombudsman which protects national integrity; misdemeanours are harshly punished, and the Tax Office, the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), is super-efficient. Every Rwandese pays tax, and each one of them has a National Identity Card. Nigerians don't like to pay tax. The country's National Identity Card Scheme is the biggest scam of the decade.

Between 120 and 200 Nigerians live in Kigali, including members of the Technical Aid Corps. The average Rwandese love Nigeria. They have seen our movies on Africa Magic and they know Obasanjo as a good friend of their President, Paul Kagame. Nigerian churches are in Rwanda too. The Redeemed Church is in Remera) and Christ Embassy (in Kacyiru). There is Nigeria's Access Bank (arrived March 2008), Ecobank, and IGI which has a major interest in Rwanda insurance sector (35 % of sonarwa sa). The PRO of the Nigerian Community in Rwanda, Mr Joseph Maborukoje says: "the Rwandese love foreigners, particularly Nigerians. It is a wonderful place to live in." He has lived in Rwanda for five years and he manages to speak a little Kirirwanda, the national tongue which is spoken along with French, Swahili, and now English which has been adopted as the national language following Rwanda's decision to join the Commonwealth.

It is ironic that the people of Rwanda love outsiders, for it is precisely the absence of love among them that led to the genocide of the 90s. The Kagame government has since legislated against ethnic division in an attempt to take the country back to its primordial, pre-colonial society. The question: what is your ethnic group? is a forbidden question in that country. The young lady who served as my co-guide bluntly refused to tell me her ethnic group. "I am Rwandese", she repeatedly insisted.

Another lady advised me not to go about asking such a question. Twenty nine years after Nigeria's civil war, its people are still trapped in ethnic empires and the most vicious fights are those involving primordial ethnic sentiments. Rwanda's ethnic differentiation is so easy to decipher by just looking at the people's physiognomy. The Tutsi are mostly slim, tall, with straight noses and tender features, the Hutus have typically African features, broad, squat, with flat noses, the Twa are short, like the pygmies of Congo. The government may have tried to legislate against ethnic identity but I doubt if this can erase the people's deep psychological scars. It is difficult to legislate a people's memory out of existence, under a cloak of officially sanctioned political correctness. Mr Maborukoje keeps a dog as pet, but he says the Rwandese do not have dogs in their homes: "dogs ate up the dead during their war."

Twenty nine years after its civil war, Nigeria has no museum anywhere documenting this important aspect of its national history. The Rwandese have documented their own history through three national museums. I visited the Kigali Memorial Centre, the genocide museum, where through pictures, words, images, concrete signs and mass graves containing 280, 000 unidentified victims, the Rwandese tell the story of their lives and the evil of genocide as a universal concern. The narrative is one-sided, constructed as it is from a Tutsi perspective, but it is nonetheless a hauntingly human story about murder, hate and violence. Through such memorial centres, Rwanda seeks to remember even as it struggles to forget the cost of its colonial heritage. But the large population of orphans, widows, street boys (maibobo), and the poor of the jungle city of Nyamirando (Kigali's Ajegunle) can never ever forget.

This is the major challenge that the Kagame government faces. Will Rwanda's political elite consider Rotational Presidency and a policy of Proportional Representation as they pilot their nation through a season of transition? I left Rwanda feeling despondent. When Nigerians refer to themselves as "the giants of Africa", they should take a second look at the mirror. They should visit other African countries and see how far behind we are. Rwanda proves the point that a society, no matter the problems it faces, can be made to work efficiently, by a committed and enlightened leadership. Nigeria continues to search for such leadership.
Seek knowledge to be usefull to the society, help and spread happiness.


Dadi ne yayi wa Nigerians yawa shine suke "Allah Kashe ni in huta" ;D. Seriously speaking though, the enormity of the genocide must have put the fear of God in the Rwandese and made them change their whole perspective in life. I am not wishing for any such occurrence in Nigeria, but truly a revolution of such dimensions without the bloodshed (hopefully) is what Nigeria needs for it to shrug out of its lethargy. Tura bata kai mutane bango ba takwana, otherwise the masses will decide to change matters for the better by themselves instead of leaving it to the blood sucking life draining leaches we call our leaders.
Ghafurallahi lana wa lakum


Allah sarki, as i was reading this story, the hotel rwanda film
is played on my computer screen watching how mercilessly
the tutsis were been murdered.  i am happy for them as they
are now in the processes of building back their nation unlike
how the writer described nigeria after 29 years, even this 29
years, so many parts of the country havent witnessed the war
they only hear and read about it.

our problems are myriad, from leadership to followers, all in
disarray.  today, 25/02/2009, i happen to accompany a friend
to change his car tyres.  while we are waiting for the vulkanizer
to replace the tyres, both myself and my friend are facing the
'baga road' express road while the traffic at bolori layout junction
was busy trafficating.  suddenly a lorry (DAF SINGLE HEAD)
appeared from west-end roundbout in a speed while the traffic
police officer has already stopped him, because he has already
given way to those from baga road going to west-end and those
doing u-turn back to baga road - before you know it, the DAF
has smashed off 3 okada riders trying to do u-turn and a pick up
car full of pure water sacks.  it happened directly in my eyes, I
shouted 'Lailaha illallahu'.  we rushed to the scene and it takes
us between 30 to 40 seconds before we could pull out one of the
okada riders under the DAF - i have never seen such a terrible
accident (i heard of it).

the essence of this story is, while we have succeded getting the
guy out, his two legs broken into pieces, while his hands badly
injured, all the motorist plying the road refuse to offer a helping
hand to convey this guy to the nearest hospital considering his
emergency case, not even the commercial taxi - wannan abin ya
tayar min da hankali sosai wallahi, gashi kuma da guy is gasping
for breath, he is in pain, yana ta shahada - anya muna yin koyi
da abin da musulunci ya fada kuwa?

we as followers are not even ready to help ourselves, there are
things we can do at our own level without waiting for the govt.
to come as in this case, if the government can not provide mobile
ambulances, at least we can offer to take the victim to the hospital.
there is much to do in this country.
"My mama always used to tell me: 'If you can't find somethin' to live for, you best find somethin' to die for" - Tupak


Yep, Dan Borno, Nigeria is an impossible society. You said it right that there is a problem with leadership and followership. In reference to what Husnna said, I used to share the same opinion that it would take a revolution before some degree of sanity returns to Nigeria. Today, I am not so sure even a revolution can bring about this desperately needed turn around. I think above all that has happened, grave confusion has set in to the extent that the enemy is unknown. Simple things are made so complex.
One of the things that bothers me so much is when I see Nigerian officials constantly showing up abroad for God knows what. A friend of a friend is a member of National Assembly by the name of Honorable Wadada. I am not sure what district he represents, or what committee he serves on, but this man and many others like him are great liabilities to Nigerians.

Last year Honorable Wadada must have visited America like 12 times, if not more. He was in New York for Clinton initiative, which cost participants $50,000 to attend, and what for? He was there, then he changed his travel plans and hurried back to Nigeria because the court was preparing to rule on Yar-Adua's legitimacy as President. After that passed, he showed up again in New York, and was talking so loud on his damn cell phone to the annoyance of people in conference. Then he and other uninvited folks showed up for President Obama's inauguration. No government official in America knows Wadada. He is not linked or connected to any congressman that I know of, but he does not seen to be able to keep his ass in Nigeria and do the work his constituents elected him to do.

The other day, I found out that our Akwa Ibom state too had a lousy contingent come to America to witness the inauguration. If anyone knows that Governor Akpabio, they'll know he travels with an entrouage the size of 3 soccer teams put together. To my dismay, I heard that the contingent that came for the inaguration (that no one invited them to) were still here, and visiting different cities. They were in Atlanta the last time I heard. Guess what however, Obama's inauguration was over 5 weeks ago, and his cabinet and the entire government have been bursting their behind trying to fix the pressing economic problems. Congress members here are barely sleeping, yet, the Nigerian counterparts are idle roaming the world on public money and wasting away our resources. Gross irresponsibility.



Usman11, I believe that this thread is good when one looks at the crass squandermania and stupidity of our elected officials. When the teeming masses are struggling to get just one meal for the day, the irresponsible guys are busy destroying the country. Instead of the masses to join hands together and fight these ravenous idiots, they are busy killing one another in the name of ir-religiousness.
Another dastardly act of these quacks is the money and allowances they take home at the end of the month. They behave so irrationally and behave as if the masses were not the ones who put them on the seat they occupy. Most of those elected members hardly visit their constituencies. They live abroad and in Abuja after purchasing mansions with taxpayers money they stole. The most unfortunate thing is that these people are never educated enough to hold such offices that makes them to turn things inside out! They claim that our democratic ideals are based on that of the U.S! That rubbish!


Waduz, really this is thread of interest and concern to all Nigerians.
You see, the way i feel if am recounting the loss Nigeria is suffering in the Hands of few stupids in the name of leaders and the multitude followers full of fear; i cannot say there is a way of getting Nigeria out of this mess.
The people voted are crass (to copy waduz) looters, in human, illiterate (although some are educated illiterate) and Devils. If not an illiterate Devil, who will go to other country medical treatment at the expense of His own country where he is voted to lead? How should sane president go to a foriegn country for medical attention routinely? If not a looter who will borrow from foriegn coffers and divert same to his personal Account even before remittence to state Accounts?.

My Prayers for these crop of leaders in Nigeria is that may GOD in his infinite mercy look at the weak masses and send some one that will brutally crush this set of leadership in Nigeria. I dont give a Damn whether or not the revolution will be Bloody or peaceful (as Aunty husna prays for), what we need is change where we will live meaningfully. The Nigerians conditions is worst than war in some cases.
The shameless Guys deserves no mercy.
it takes oppressed and oppressor for oppression to occur