Where are the Rwanda ‘whisperers’ when you need them, that secret sect of people with the uncanny ability to smooth the ruffled feathers of what is decidedly an ornery bird of prey?

It wasn’t too long ago that another mysterious quarrel poisoned the water in the well of our neighbourly relations for years. After what felt like eons of tiptoeing on shards, we the people, breathed a communal sigh of relief that the ‘two’ presidents were back on bestie terms, and eating in each other’s houses without fear of the unthinkable.I have fond memories of Uganda Independence Day celebrations in Kigali soon after the détente, ‘graced’ by the presence of a president, who even displayed some skills on the dance floor. Ah! Bliss.

It’s like being in a high school with somewhat cool kids, and you so desperately want the coolest of them to like you, and come to your house and your birthday party, because then, you can show the rest of the world that you are cool because you have cool friends.
Except this cool friend expects to be paid in the currency of absolute loyalty, and will cut you off at any time if they disapprove of your choices.

Or. It is like having a relationship with a controlling boyfriend who must approve of all your choices, and you must check in with him whenever you want to make new friends or hang out with people he doesn’t like.

Punishment is swift for any failure; he withholds affection and gives you the silent treatment for days, until even your mother is pestering you to give in to whatever his demands are – he is such catch you know! He is smart, funny, employed and so charming! Everybody likes him. And so do you, really. If only he could stop the temper tantrums and petulant episodes.

We have been carefully conditioned to place an inordinately high value on this relationship with our neighbour. For some reason, relationships with other countries have not been infused with the same amount of breathless wonder and fragrant poignancy as this peculiar one.
It is now a record of folklore that our countries are locked into the kind of blood-bond that ultimately wrecks more havoc than more ascetic alliances.

Perhaps it is time to get the familial element out of this and focus on cold-cut, logic-driven diplomacy; like the kind we would have with, say, Papua New Guinea.

Obviously, there is nothing to gain from this feud that reinvents itself every few years, ad nauseam. After two episodes, I don’t have the stomach for any more histrionics. And it’s not even my fish rotting at the border.
If you can’t abide by the EAC rules because someone allegedly pissed on your lawn, don’t spoil it all for everybody by pissing on the EAC. Rwexit, anybody?

Ms Barenzi is a communications professional and writer
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