It is supposed to be hot and extremely dry right now in Kigali but, unless you live in a cave, you are probably burnishing an umbrella as you go about your day’s business. I’m not an expert in meteorology but what I am an expert in is Kigali’s weather patterns. And this rain, right in the middle of August, is strange to me. Thank goodness I’m merely a civil servant and therefore not victimized by changes of weather. But can you imagine what our farmers are going through?
Subsistence agriculture, the livelihood of the vast majority of the Rwandan populace, is an occupation that relies on the vagaries of the weather like no other. There isnt an insurance policy that they can depend on and once the harvests fail, that’s it. With barely any food reserves in their rudimentary barns, the business of the weather is life and death for the Rwandan farmer. So, I ask this question, does anyone know why the rains are coming down so early?
How many of you follow the weather report on Rwanda Television? Next question: how many of you actually believe what the weatherman/woman tells you? When I was a lot younger I remember watching people in North America watching the news and obsessing about the weather. Know why? Because invariably, the weather person was spot on. You would know, just from watching one news bulletin, the week’s weather. What I would give to have an equally reliable weather forecast.
This kind of information is extremely important because, like it or not, this affects us. While I can afford to get showered on, the farmers in Bugesera can’t afford a surprise rainy season. For generations now, we’ve had two rainy seasons at about the same time. So, when the seasons are out of kilter farmers simply don’t know what to do. Here is the question I would like to ask the experts in the Ministry of Agriculture and the Metrology Office. Is this rain part of a new, earlier rainy season or are we merely getting some relief from the dust before the sun beats down again? Because if it is, people need to know.
Climate change is a reality, notwithstanding the nonsense of the Tea Party wackos in the United States. And while climate is, unlike mere weather, measured over decades, maybe what we are seeing right now is the start of a new climate pattern in the region. In the Horn of Africa there is a huge drought, unlike any we have ever seen. And in Rwanda, we have rain at a time we have rarely seen. I’m not being a harbinger of global climate catastrophe, but information is power. And unless some is forthcoming I, along with many fellow citizens, will be up a creek without a paddle. We need a good explanation, should we start planting or should we wait?
Today, one of the most powerful men in the world is paying us a visit. Gao Hucheng, the vice-Minister of Commerce and International Economic Cooperation of the Peoples Republic of China is making his first trip to our country. The Chinese government is seen in the West as a predatory animal hell-bent on gobbling up African minerals and thwarting our aspirations for democracy. Here is a huge fact check. The West is that predatory animal still (as the good people of Iraq know), and the issue of non-interference in our political process is actually a boost to our democracy and not a hindrance. For example, if some people had their way, Mugabe would be sitting in a prison cell in The Hague. However, he’s in Harare still and guess what? Inch by inch, Zimbabwe is getting out of the mess it found itself in. China is good partner in our development. If we choose to, that is.