KIGALI CHRONICLES: What Ghana has on paper, Rwanda has on the ground

I have been writing from and about Kigali based on what I have seen myself. I haven’t asked locals any questions. Only other input comes from some of my colleagues who have visited here before.

I admit I have been overawed by this country. Perhaps my admiration is so much because I saw on CNN and read about the horrific genocide of 1994. The war destroyed virtually everything in Rwanda but in 20 years they have rebuilt in a way that will marvel everyone. In that same period my beloved Ghana and her politicians have been talking plenty and doing little.

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Now check this out:

1. There are no street hawkers in Kigali.

The AMA has since forever perfected the art of driving away hawkers from Accra’s streets when some major conference beckons or when they know elections are no where close. We have lacked the balls and political will to do what is right for our cities.

There are no hawkers in Kigali’s streets. They have all been moved to markets and they have stayed there. We have constructed markets for hawkers but have failed to make them move and they have also refused to understand why they should move.

2. No naked mad men roaming through Kigali

We are very good at fetching mad men and putting them in vans and carrying them out of town when we know we have guests coming into our country. We want the foreigners to think we are clean people but soon as they leave town we tell ourselves, “let’s muddy ourselves again”. We are just a bunch of pretentious people who know what is right but for whatever reason fail to live up to it.

3. Rarely does one see non-functioning streetlights in Kigali

Yes. In fact, it is very easy to mistake Kigali for some European city at night. Yes I remember some story about some bold thieves stealing streetlights in broad day light. Whatever excuse there may be, it is not enough to convince ourselves why our streets remain in darkness. Let’s fix the cause.

4. Kigali is green

Ok so they are blessed with a lot of green. So were we. Difference is that they kept their green. We didn’t.

5. Organised Kigali

What contributes to Kigali’s picturesque nature is the way the city is organised. The city centre is on point and orderly and everything seems to be where it ought to be. Let me give you an idea; imagine a city as organised as Accra’s Airport City. That’s how I see Kigali.

6. There’s no refuse dump in the city

A Ghana city without a refuse dump in town proper is no Ghanaian city. Worse, the refuse dumps are always overflowing. I am yet to see a refuse dump in this city. I am yet to see plastic bags strewn on streets in Kigali. In fact, Kigali make us look like a very unkempt people. May be we are. I am told once a month the whole country engages in a clean up and it shows.

Let me reiterate what I keep saying: our leaders should visit Rwanda and learn from them. That is if they have a truly genuine desire to see Ghana grow and prosper. I will be telling the economic success story of Rwanda and we will realise that the country is getting most of the things we talk about right.

Will I love to work and live here? Absolutely.

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