Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Do you ever have those moments where you ask, “Why did I never see that before? What is wrong with me? I need to do something about that situation.” I had one of those “What have I been thinking?” moments two weeks ago.
Everything on this road has changed except the presence of an old tank. The tank must go. (photo Dave Jenkins)
Everything on this road has changed except the presence of an old tank. The tank must go. (photo Dave Jenkins)
I do several things consistently. One is run. I enjoy Kigali’s beautiful roads, trails, and hills. A second is writing, and on occasion having some fun with Rwanda’s eastern neighbors. I deeply love Kenya and Uganda for the joy and wisdom they gave my youth. Yet I have a constant theme about their garbage upkeep and noisy Balokole churches. Lastly is preaching. To preach well one must read widely. I like to think of myself as well read. I love reading Old Testament prophets. I particularly like the prophets who wrote about building a city after returning from Exile. My favorite Old Testament prophet’s writing is read each Christmas. I can’t resist their message.
One wrote about a new day:” Many people will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord… He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born (Isaiah 2:2-4; 9:5, 6.)”
When we quit reciting religious Christmas babble and speak straight, Isaiah told us that a day would come where a city that had been torn apart by war would model justice to nations. Education would no longer focus on military training, but on economic and social development. The tools of war would disappear and be replaced by enduring peace.
A pastor who runs should know better. My staff asked for me to preach on hope one Sunday in April. I came to Isaiah and gave a Christmas sermon. That afternoon I went on long run and was aghast at my blind eyes.
For six years I’ve gone on long runs that take me from Gisozi to Gaculiro. I avoid the crowds and run the back road that connects FAWE girl’s school to the Kagugu Estate. Along the way is an old half-way destroyed army tank. Six years ago the road was murram; today it is beautiful tarmac. Six years ago there were no street lights; now it is gloriously lit. Six years ago, I saw hills that looked like a slum; today, there are green hills waiting further development. It is a road that calls me to pray and dream. It strengthens my resolve to be builder of a city that brings hope to a region. Everything on this road has changed except the presence of an old tank. The tank must go. It is Kigali’s Buvera.

I’ve never met a FAWE girl who was not impressive. The 2020 Vision Estate models a national vision. There should not be a blown up tank between these markers of our city’s hope. Isaiah got it right. When a city becomes a light the military hardware disappears. Maybe it goes to a museum. Maybe it is just melted down and becomes a building component. The tank must go. It is Kigali’s Buvera.
I could complain that Kigali City Council should remove this tank. However, I should have seen this with an open bible and asked questions years ago. Kigali, forgive me for my blind eyes.
As a young Muzungu in Uganda I took photos of blown up tanks to send back to supporters in America. My stomach now turns at the memories of my foolish youth. The lessons of my youthful failings are part of what drives my desire to represent Rwanda as a hopeful nation made up of my good friends. I don’t Facebook post when my power or water is out in Kigali because it communicates loudly to the prejudices of the west. The tank makes a horrible Facebook temptation to young Bazungu. The tank must go. It is Kigali’s Buvera.
I cannot speak for all Rwanda government officials, but the ones I call friends work very long hours. I called one at the Kigali City Council a couple days after I saw the tank and was embarrassed at my blind eyes. He told me he’d look into it. We both giggled at how we read Isaiah and did not think to pick up the tank. He’s a busy man, but I trust he will get to this.
If he cannot pick up the tank soon, well, I paid my university fees as a young man by laboring in construction; it has been 20 years, but I think I can still drive a lorry. If someone can find a place to deposit this old tank, find a truck for me to borrow, and get man and hoist I’m willing to drive the tank away from our Kigali memories. We can’t always expect the government to do what we should see to do with an open bible. Can anyone help?
Can we pick up the tank? It must go. It is Kigali’s Buvera.

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