The New Times (Kigali)

29 December 2012

Rwanda: 'Johnny Come Lately' On New Year Celebrations

opinion

The countdown to midnight is perhaps the most universal of New Year celebrations around the globe.

For some peculiar reason unbeknownst to me I have always spectacularly managed to miss it over the years.

I am always struck by a bout of hyper activity between 7p.m and 10p.m on the 31st of December only to doze off at about 11p.m! I blame it on my love for watching the fireworks displays from around the world.

From the Sydney harbour and opera house to Tokyo's light tower to Hong Kong's harbour the skies are set ablaze with magnificent fireworks displays that just take the breath away!

We have the Chinese to thank for this ancient art form that continues to evolve in leaps and bounds even today. If anyone was unclear on who is boss of the fireworks displays, the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics of 2008 was an ample statement to settle the argument.

The accolade for most unique (and perhaps most expensive) celebration goes to the Americans.

The dropping of the ball in New York's time square must be the most eye catching event on the 31st of December anywhere in the world.

At one minute to midnight every New Year's eve since 1908, a giant ball bedecked in thousands of shiny flashing lights descends down a flag pole atop one time square.

At the stroke of midnight, the giant ball reaches the bottom of the pole and triggers off the enthralling fireworks display accompanied by confetti sprayed over the mammoth crowds gathered in Times Square!

Traditional New Year's kisses are then shared amongst lovers, friends, family and the odd stranger! It is indeed a sight to behold!

Back home, the 'two year prayer vigil' at Amahoro stadium is a fixture on every 31st of December. It is characterised by an outpouring of emotion like no other. Music and Dance provide the preamble as the crowds gear up for the climax that is 00.00 hours.

Pastors and preachers from all denominations partake in this spiritual feast and the audience severs their sermons with passion that is a rarity in Rwandan social events.

With all the partying that happens on 31st December, it's fitting that 1st January is a holiday. For me it always seems like the day of reckoning; a time to take stock of the year gone by.

As I lie in bed recounting the previous night's events, I also take time to fine tune my resolutions for the coming year. If, like me, you are one of those people that make resolutions every year that you struggle to keep, take heart. At least you are honest enough to admit your shortcomings; accepting that there is a problem is the first step to finding solutions to that problem.

2012 has been an eventful year. On the global scene, from the lows of the Syrian conflict to the highs of London Olympics and the seesaw re-election campaign of Barack Obama for the US presidency; our emotions have been severely tested.

Locally, the ghosts of the Congo continued to haunt the national conscience. It's become like a bad stench that will not go away. The establishment of Agaciro Development Fund and the RPF Silver Jubilee celebrations were a much needed shot of fresh air whose momentum should propel us into 2013 with gusto.

What we can take from the experiences of 2012 is that good fortune is seldom handed to us on a silver platter; it is a result of diligent struggles and sacrifices as exemplified by RPF story over the past 25 years.

As we see off the past year and usher in 2013, I trust that Rwandans are up for the challenges that bestraddle our chosen path to self determination.

Lets us all stand tall behind our leaders in fighting the good fight. Our future progeny will thank us for having done the right thing. To quote my favourite phrase of 2012, "we are a small country but we are not a small people!"

On a personal note, I would like to thank all those readers that took the time to read the 'Johnny come lately' column. It's been a journey of self discovery for me.

I will remain forever indebted for all the feedback and encouragement I received throughout the six months of writing the column that run from 16th June to date.

I will surely return in 2013 albeit with different writing projects after a short break.

May 2013 be a year of bountiful harvests for the Rwandan people and our brothers and sisters around the world.

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