On Voldemort and arbitrary lines
OVER the course of the last few weekends, I have had the opportunity to see quite a bit of the country side, joy riding from the city to places as disparate as, and you’ll forgive me for the use of their old names (the new names do not roll off the tongue or the keyboard as easily), Butare, Kibuye, Kayonza, Bugesera (all the way to the border with Burundi) and the ancestral home of one of my parents. A little hamlet outside Kabuga called Muyumbu.
Calling it the ancestral home is a bit inaccurate though, as my grandparents were marched off their property in 1959 and forced to settle in a forest filled with buffaloes, hyenas and leopards. This is alright for a tourist on safari but it was less than ideal for a displaced family trying to start over.
With time, clearing of land and some heavy duty hunting – old school style with spears, arrows and traps not high powered rifles and scopes – the place became habitable and looking at the place today, you would need more than a little imagination to envision a forested place where any trips out of the homestead after dark was dangerous in groups smaller than 10.
The development policies of this government have made themselves felt in reasonable gravel roads, health centres, schools and a growing network of electricity and water lines.
Being a 20 minute ride from the city, there’s also a growing number of people from Kigali who are developing the area and constructing homes. Some as their primary home, others as a nearby weekend place to unwind after the working week.
For the longest time I had assumed Muyumbu was administratively part of expanded Kigali City as the town of Kabuga is visible on the next hillside. It was with some surprise that I discovered that it was part of the district of Rwamagana, headquartered 35 – 40km away.
This means that because someone placed an arbitrary line in the valley between Kabuga and Muyumbu, any business that the residents need to conduct with the local authorities that is beyond the scope of the sector requires one to hop on one of those rickety green striped taxi minibuses and take a 40-minute ride to Rwamagana [might be longer since these taxis stop often].
The headquarters of the districts of Gasabo and Kicukiro are geographically closer, accessible within 20 minutes. I think whoever is in charge of administrative borders should take convenience of residents into account when carving up units of the country.
Anyone who has followed even a little of the popular Harry Potter books and movies will know of the young wizard’s nemesis, Lord Voldemort. A dark wizard of such power that he is fearfully referred to as “He-who-must-not-be-named” by the characters in J.K. Rowling’s best selling fiction. An editor of a local newspaper has in recent articles been referring to a high powered individual in the government as “He-who-I-cannot-name”. The use of terms usually reserved for powerful evil wizards is not out of fear for this individual’s magical powers but rather a fear of a libel suit and with the accusations being made in his article it is a well-founded fear.
Talk of networks of minions, strategic maneuvering and high political back stabbing is likely to make any named individual drag a publication to court, whether the charges are true or not. I found it interesting that a newspaper would write an expose without naming the person while admitting that anything written therein cannot be independently verified, has to be the first time I’ve seen it.
Needless to say we’re all curious as to the identity of this person, more so because anyone who voices complaint would have given himself away. In the meantime, in an act of black computer magic, the story of “he-who-I-cannot-name” has mysteriously disappeared from cyber space. There just may be something to this Rwandan version of Lord Voldemort.
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