Workmates of a newly married girl can tease her for some days that on leaving office, she tends to forget and take her usual bus home, only to remember that it is the wrong bus after alighting at her parent’s home stage.
At that point, she can choose to drop in at her parents’ and pretend she had intended to pay them a surprise visit before going to her home. Or she can quickly grab a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) and rush home to her husband, without disclosing her secret mistake to anybody.
Uganda and Rwanda are now celebrating their first anniversary of the closed border, but those who like the newly married girl forgot about the new order were not so lucky as to pick the nearest boda boda back home. They were shot dead across the border.
First, it was Rwandans who forgot that the border was closed and tried to cross to Uganda to buy food. They died.
Then a week or so ago some Ugandans heard that a presidential envoy from Kampala had been well received in Kigali. So they decided to cross the border to see some relatives on the other side. They were shot dead.
In Luganda, they say only a silly goat follows a dog through a potato garden. For while no farmer cares when a neighbour’s dog wanders through his potato garden, a goat that does gets the treatment reserved for enemies.
A presidential envoy is welcomed; a peasant is shot.
As the two brotherly states celebrate their first anniversary of doing without each other, it is wise for them to take stock of what they have achieved from this non-relationship.
The achievements, with no cynicism at all, are in form of capabilities developed over 12 months of non-dependency on each other. It tends to happen when societies are isolated.
It was during South Africa’s international isolation, for example, that it made great strides in technology, some of which may never be known to the public because they are of a security nature.
But we can count the first human-to-human heart transplant; launch of passenger aircraft to flying nonstop for incredible distances: Johannesburg -London and Johannesburg- Amsterdam and development of plant breeds that grow quickly under drought conditions.
So Uganda and Rwanda should be able to show us, their citizens, the new capabilities they have developed over the past 12 months.
The business community in both countries have, for instance, opened up and cultivated new suppliers and customers. This means that when the border gets opened someday in future, the brotherly or sisterly market next door will be a bonus.
And yes, it will be like South Africa now selling to Africa north of Limpopo yet they were already doing fine selling to Europe and America.