“VISIT RWANDA” — A novel, uniquely Rwandan concept

“VISIT RWANDA” — A novel, uniquely Rwandan concept

It all started as a simple PR campaign to promote tourism in Rwanda. But the Burundi basketball gaffe in South Africa the other day has given VISIT RWANDA more oxygen than we could have ever imagined. Bear with me. Let me tell my story.

The Burundi team left Bujumbura well aware of the rules that every team had to abide by: wear a jersey with “VISIT RWANDA” on it because Rwanda was sponsoring the tournament.. If they did not want to comply with the guidelines, then why make the journey? Covering up the logo was such a moronic idea, and whoever is in charge of the team should be publicly shamed. No, flogged.

Burundi National Basketball team

You have to wonder why no other country has thought of such a simple but powerful message. But then again, Rwandan home-grown solutions have become our signature. There is no stopping us now.

Am I bragging? Hell yes. Shoot me. No apologies.

The Burundi team’s actions and behavior says a lot about their leadership. One’s actions tells you a lot about their thinking. Sports unites nations, and injecting politics into it is not only a bad idea but lack of foresight and deep thought. The President chimed in, but his comments following the blunder added fuel to the fire. I don’t need to expound on this.

Burundi President, Evariste Ndayishimiye dancing

But let me add this: the on and off of closing Burundi’s border with Rwanda and all the silly un-founded accusations that Rwanda supports terrorist groups fighting the Burundi government are in the same spirit of fighting the “VISIT RWANDA” message. Cutting off your nose to spite your face is senseless. That is my free advice to my in-laws!

The Burundi team’s whimsical behavior was un-fortunate, but it ends up being amusing. The anti-Rwanda protest did not stop the team getting on RWANDA AIR to go back home, via Kigali, where I know they were welcomed in our customary warmth. Really now! When I read about this I just had to play “Pride Goes Before a Fall” by legendary country singer, Jim Reeves.

Burundi National Basketball team, Dynamo’s message to their President

Imagine this: having boarded Rwanda Air, the Pride of our Nation, looking at our strikingly beautiful and gracious Stewardesses, what do you think the team and their Coach were thinking? A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Here in Texas there is a popular saying, “Don’t Mess with Texas.” Same can be said of Rwanda. You heard me right. I can hear them saying, in their beautiful melodic intonation : ABANYAGWANDA NTIBASHOBOKA.

Good neighborliness is not only achieved with and through diplomacy. Sports is a wonderful avenue to mend fences. Dynamo’s blunder is regrettable and deprived the young players of a bright future because of the five year suspension. It is yet another hurdle in our dealing with Burundi. If they un-clench their fist, we will extend a hand of friendship. Their war drums don’t scare us a bit.