I grew up in Katuna at the Border of Rwanda and Uganda, the people across the border in Gatuna are family and friends – we do things together. We are only separated by a stream. Growing up, our house parties were never short of Primus and Miitzig – huge bottles of beer from our neigbours in Rwanda.
After the 1994 war, a market was born, everyone calls it Akensi yona (The world market), the Akensi yona market brought joy and civilisation to my village faster than any colonialist claimed to ever have. People in my village and across the border could access food, medicine, clothing and footwear- in fact, walking barefooted became a thing of the past in my village when the market was introduced. The market day that happens every Wednesday and Saturday is a major activity in the lives of the people on both sides of the the border.
Remarkably, this market is a hunting ground for lads to find a potential marriage partner. One market day, the boy will woo the girl, they agree to meet again on the following market day, he will give her ezarukundo (money for love) as a sign of commitment. The following market day, the young man has to buy his new bride- to-be clothes usually it is shoes, womanly dresses and a sweater, hilly Kabale district where the border is is cold, so is across the border. These two will arrange where to meet and they will elope. This is a tradition that has gone on between these two communities for very many years long before the colonialists partitioned Africa. . When the couple has settled in, the lad and his relatives visit the relatives of the girl to formalise the marriage. It is a common sight on Sundays to see people carrying ebitenga (Gift baskets) across the stream, to visit the new bride.
On a special Sunday, the catholic church across the border in Rwanda visits our church in Katuna, this was our favourite Sunday when we were growing up, because they sang and danced intore (Rwandese traditional dance), it was a good break from the Sunday routine, we looked forward to this Sunday all year long, and when we would return the visit.
Now, for weeks the border has been closed, even the migogo (Log bridges) have been since removed from the streams that separate the two communities.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Museveni of Uganda are like a fighting couple. It is a cold shoulder treatment and unkind words are being exchanged
“No one can bring me to my knees,” said President Kagame. “Once we mobilise, you can’t survive,” said President Museveni.
As a result of these two bickering men, businesses are suffering, friendships are suffering, and the lads cannot get brides during the market day.