The politics of Kigali

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By Gatete Kevin ThierryEAC flags

The RPF Congress has been a success; the Chairman is in a good mood. Bill has been waiting for his moment; this moment. The entire time of the congress he barely listened to anything else. He rehearsed three times in the mirror this morning; he is ready! No he’s not, he is terrified to the core of his being; after all, he has himself to blame for being out of the Job.

‘Oh God, what have I done’, he keeps repeating to himself. Ok, he turns to his friend, the only person in the room to know his plans and says, see you on the other side; he holds his breath and raises his hand…

‘Yego’ – he simply hears as they point in his direction.

He stands up, takes a minute to work out the most respectful stature. The room goes quiet, everyone knows what he did and he’s been the talk of coffee breaks. Apparently, when he was Permanent Secretary, a regional delegation came to Rwanda and was stranded at the airport because he could not pick them up in time. ‘He almost caused a diplomatic incident’ one congressist even suggests in the usual Rwandan ‘gukabya’…

The room is silent you can hear a fly land on the petit stade’s floor, as he goes: ‘Your excellency, I am very sorry, I failed on my duty! What I did was unacceptable, and it will never happen again!’

He simply hears an ‘Ok!’

‘Phew, that wasn’t so hard…’, He thinks to himself. Now, getting the hang of it, he adds: ‘may I say something else’ – The whole room holds its breath; wondering when the patience of the Chairman will run out; this guy is fearless! They all seem to agree. One thing they forget is, the man wasn’t made PS by accident, when in his element he knows how to swing… He gets a sign to go ahead, he turns to the audience and goes: ‘guys, you heard that I’m forgiven, please don’t ignore my calls anymore…’ – the whole room is on the floor with laughter, even the Chairman! And that’s how you make a classic comeback into the good books, he sits down; class dismissed!

My friend Eric calls. Nothing unusual, ‘I’m in a meeting’, I text back, ‘I’ll call you later.’

Call me ASAP! He insists. There too, nothing unusual, he does that all the time as if I was his PA…

When he calls for the third time, I know something is amiss. I get out of my meeting and pick up his call;

‘Ebwana Gatete, niko na batoto tatu!’ (I have three kids) he says as soon as I pick up.

Now if you know Eric, you know that he speaks impeccable English, and likes to do so. He even speaks excellent French. Now when he decides to speak Kiswahili with a strong Goma accent, you just know something’s up! So I loose my smile and pay attention:

Gatete did you bring the green party to Kwetu?- a hotel

Well, yeah, we had a coffee at Gato Keza…

Look Gatete I’m a member of the RPF, I don’t wanna have anything to do with your green party. Plus I have a loan to pay and 30 employees to feed; Ntugakinishe ibintu!

But Eric, it was a coffee and Gato keza is a public place, and I work in the building!?

Oyaaa! take them somewhere else, I don’t want to know!

Ok man, sorry for inconvenience, I finally say, convinced that there is no point trying to explain the whole human rights thing.

While I was on the call with Eric, Frank Habineza was calling – speaking of the devil – He wants to meet to finalize the strategy for the next day’s hearing in the Supreme Court and share the memorials of his lawyer.

Where can we meet?

I think for a minute, Kwetu is ruled out of course…

Yeah, let’s meet at Inzora!

Inzora Coffee shop is a lovely place at Librerie Ikirezi, their rooftop balcony has a breathtaking view of Kimihurura and the city; it’s magic!

Obviously Frank isn’t the romantic type, so I spare him the details and simply say:

Its quiet there, we can work;

We are coming!

When the saw it, they love it- everyone must love it! You hear that Inzora? Your place is opposition approved! – I don’t know if that’s a good thing though hahaha!

Anyway on our way out we bump into the owner in the library, and there it hits me: It’s the former President.

Ahhh, Bizimungu is the owner, of course! How did this slip out of my mind?

He may be the owner, but right now he looks pale!

The man just came out of jail and is simply too happy to enjoy the fresh air. He has been on his best behavior, probably got a loan and just finished this little masterpiece, on which he will retire to old days devoid of torment and politics, as he enjoys the sunset from the Inzora balcony.

He hasn’t even collected one year of rent, and now karma seem to have caught up with him; At that point I can read on his face that he is ready to give away two years of rent for the entire building, in return of the name of the person who brought the green party here!?

Luckily Frank doesn’t see him, so I look away, and we swiftly walk out of there…

This is to apologize to both owners, I swear I didn’t think about it, Kigali is just too small…

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