When the sea clashes with the rocks, it is the clams that suffer, so do the Portuguese say to describe who suffers when two seemingly powerful beings clash. In fact, Africans have put it better; “when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.” The proverb has particular resonance to the current goings-on between Uganda and Rwanda where rising tensions between the two countries threaten to hurt opportunities for citizens of both countries.

The last time I checked, both Rwanda and Uganda were sort of conjoined twins given their identical ethnic and social make-up. It is not quite clear what has changed, since. Both nations are bound together by shared history, kinship ties that reach back hundreds of years, including kindred, ancestral lines. Besides, Rwandans are Ugandans and Ugandans are Rwandans – whichever way you look at it – legally or socially.

The said tensions between the two countries are probably akin to the occasional family fights. They happen from time to time. While they might not always be that dramatic, no family is immune to those random quarrels. After all, a shared gene pool plus family history plus big brother Joe setting house rules that the rest of the siblings don’t contend with, does not always make a neutral family house. When confronted with such a situation, please google: ‘How to de-escalate fights among family members’ or better still, ‘Tips for handling family disputes’. You will find one or two helpful strategies; but you will also see the extent to which family conflicts can be emotionally wrenching and painful especially to the children involved.

Rwanda and Uganda are pretty much one family. Some people have argued that the row between Kampala and Kigali is merely an attention shifter. Others actually think it is real. I am not privy to the facts and details, but I know it doesn’t smell good at all, for the citizens of both countries. Real or perceived, it is not a funny joke to tell in a region that has had a pattern of conflicts.

Mr. Crispy Kaheru

No matter how sour the Rwanda-Uganda feud might be; mature conversations, keeping it generally out of the ‘kids’ view, and refusing to name-call would be a more responsible option to take. Unfortunately, this is now being splashed all-over the place.

The on-going altercations, quarrels and antics between the two countries are simply toxic interactions fashioning emotional damage among the citizens of the two countries in the short, medium and long run. In any case, the ordinary citizens of the two neighboring countries don’t seem interested in whatever jostling that is going on at the top level. Statements and actions of ordinary Rwandans and Ugandans over the last couple of weeks affirm one thing – they don’t want war. Ordinary citizens in both countries just want to have a normal life and go to work and raise their children well. They don’t want to get embroiled in mêlées that they didn’t start; they don’t want to get entangled in conflict that they will not easily end. Above all, they want peaceful communities. It is incumbent upon leaders of both countries to seek out and follow every possible way of avoiding any disruptive approaches to dealing with the prevailing tensions.

The leaders of the two nations owe it to their citizens to look beyond what creates differences, but rather what brings them together. They owe it to the current and future generations to defuse the rising tensions before the situation runs out of hand.

Unfortunately, if Rwanda and Uganda don’t quickly re-establish friendly, brotherly relations, they both run a risk of cooking themselves into a savory meal that external forces could have for dinner.

No one wants to live in a state where his or her life depends on the mood of their leader. No one wants to live in fear – not Ugandans; probably not the Rwandans.

My last hope is that the two countries will seek a peaceful option to sort whatever it is, once and for all – in the interest of their respective citizens.

The citizens want inclusive identity!

By Crispy Kaheru

Coordinator CCEDU