The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Happy Holidays - Let Us Pause and Be Thankful

opinion

Last week's RPF Inkotanyi 25-year celebration was some of the best fun I had in months. From the speeches, to the dancing, to the singing...it was enough to make me get goose bumps, especially when the old RPA songs started playing. I was whisked back to the early 90's.

Honestly, I couldn't wish for anything more, other than the presence of the two songbirds of the liberation, Kamaliza and Cecile Kayirebwa (the former is deceased while the latter lives in Belgium). Anyway, it was awesome. So, to the organizers I say, "well done".

And to the rest of the Rwandan community, I wish you all a belated Merry Christmas. I hope that you were able to spend it with your loved ones, sharing a meal and giving presents. But while I'm on the topic if 'presents', I feel that I must ask our business people whether they know just how leverage the Christmas holidays to their advantage. I mean, did ANYONE hear of a 'Christmas sale' anywhere? I mean, other than the decorations festooned everywhere, with giant trees and Santa Claus ubiquitous, did any business give customers incentive to buy anything?

Everywhere in the world (I mean, just go across the border to Uganda to see what I'm talking about) the holiday period, which often starts from late November to early January, is a time where businesses make a killing. Not because they increase prices, but rather because they decrease their prices thereby increasing the number of units they sell to the general public.

Here however, businesses take it for granted that the customers will be FORCED to come to them, and in fact, often INCREASE their prices. These kinds of increases are often found in either hotels and transport companies. What is the result of this? Businesses stagnating over the holiday period, instead of increasing their profits.

But, let us not forget that this period isn't about just shopping and consuming enormous amounts of food. This is also a time to share, with those less fortunate than you, your blessings. Remember that, while many of us eat, drink and make merry, a huge number of our compatriots are unable to do the same. They are too old, too poor, or too sick. There are many Rwandans who have taken it upon themselves to offer their time and resources to share in the 'Christmas spirit'.

This 'spirit' is one that the Rwandan community has had for eons and it is one that must be celebrated. As the Good Book says, "we are our brothers keeper". So, while you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the dawn of the New Year, remember that there are those who are less fortunate than you. Keep them in your hearts, and if you can, do something to alleviate their need. No matter how small or insignificant.

Let us count our blessings. Just across the border in the DRC, thousands of men, women and children are fleeing their homes with nothing but the clothes of their back, escaping militia death squads. Constantly living under the cloud of conflict, I'm sure that these Congolese aren't able to enjoy Christmas with their families. Just the other day, many refugees crossed the Rwanda-Congo border. Thiers is not a Christmas that even your worst enemy could wish for you.

So, let us make merry in the knowledge that we have a nation that we can be proud of. We have a leadership that we can be proud of. Let us be thankful that we, as a people, have been blessed enough to live in these exciting times for our country. 2012 was quite a yo-yo experience, we had many ups and many downs. But we've made it, and the country is as strong as ever.

May 2013 be even better for you, me and the rest of the Rwandan community. Be blessed.

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