By Joachim Buwembo
So Kampala and Kigali are still quarreling! Pardon us small fellows for having forgotten that we were supposed to be angry at each other as Ugandans and Rwandans. Blame it on Covid-19! We got too busy sewing masks, sharing food, dodging curfew and washing hands countless times, so we kind of forgot to abuse our brothers and sisters across the border.
But it seems we are still supposed to be angry at each other, although about sixty million of us don’t know exactly why. Unlike Egyptians and Ethiopians who know that their countries’ conflict is over the Nile waters and the Grand Renaissance Dam, Ugandans and Rwandans don’t know why their two countries are perpetually on the verge of war.
Anyway, in a very recent interview, our president in Rwanda was thankful that the quarrels have not escalated beyond the pre-covid levels when we went into lockdown, like four months ago. But they haven’t lessened either. Because before a week elapsed when the interview was published, a communication from our presidency in Uganda to the resident district commissioners leaked, directing them to warn people against crossing into Rwanda where they get shot. Plus some more scary remarks about Rwanda security conducting kidnaps inside Uganda.
Thank Covid! We have had a four-month relief from the sabre rattling between Kampala and Kigali. It was there, it is there, but in ‘mute’ mode. It is like an audio playing with the sound level at zero, but those tuned in can adjust their earphones. The big men are still quarreling alright but Dear Dreadful Covid has spared us the sound.
But even as the quarrels continue without reaching our ears, they affect us, the sixty million of us, and badly. So what we small people can do is to pray that the muted quarrels come to an end. From the feelings of our small hearts that are denied the knowledge of why the big men are quarreling, this is what we should pray for:
That our big men decide to manage the manage the affairs of the countries as state to state and not person to person. That they hand over the resolution of the disputes to the relevant offices in the two governments. That they give a chance to the professional diplomats to find a solution because, well, whatever secret approaches they have been trying over the years have failed. Incidentally, these are not the first two countries to quarrel, others have had bigger quarrels and resolved them.
That our big men look into the East African Community for mediation because EAC members have a direct stake in the peace or war between member states. That Luanda (besides the rhyme of the Angolan city’s name with that of Rwanda the country) isn’t any close to us than Kenya or Tanzania, and it is unlikely that Angola has more competencies in understanding and resolving a Uganda – Rwanda security dispute than Kenya or Tanzania have.
That since failing to decide is worse than deciding badly, our big men would even do better to decide to suspend the relations between the two countries fully and their sixty million citizens can wait for time to sort out the matter.
That whatever the big men decided or fail to decide, the conflict should continue in ‘mute’ mode so that the sixty million can go about their lives without adding bitter feelings over things that have not been and cannot be explained to them.