Lights, camera, action.. Africa has waited, the stage is set, all actors are ready, for the glaring eyes of the sports world will be on focussed on Rwanda for the next three weeks as it welcomes the Africa Nations Championship.
When I was a young boy, maybe about 9 my mother (it’s always the mothers) tried to talk me into coming back home, reluctantly at the beginning of a school term holiday I made the trip to Rwanda with the sole purpose of trying to fall in love with the country of my parents birth. It didn’t occur to me that one day I would proudly call this my home, I was supposed to spend the next month trying to understand my culture, meeting relatives and possibly look into school options, the stay didn’t go past two weeks. Why? For in that moment the myopic nine year old couldn’t ever imagine living in a country with one mall, no bowling alley or cinema.
Fast forward 2016, i’m almost 23 and I still don’t think my 23 year old self would have stayed in Rwanda 14 years ago, in fact I would have laughed at anyone that would have thought this tiny, resource less African country would host a tournament of CHAN’s magnitude within that timeline, if you dared try to sell me that thought, i wouldn’t be far from calling you a mad man.
But oh boy I could never have been more wrong and happily wrong. I’ve been home for now three years and I’m still wondering how this miracle was put together, don’t get me wrong it’s all not perfect but then where is perfect? From having one mall and no bowling alley, no one would have guessed that this resource less country would be playing host to one of the biggest sporting events on the continent in a period of just 14 years.
So many times we as Africa tend to forget that our journey differs from the rest of the world, always comparing and snaring when we rate our continent to the more developed nations forgetting that stories like Rwanda's rise can only be propelled by African belief and resistance.
For the next three weeks i will celebrate my country, for it’s only 21 years since the worst human atrocity in the Genocide against the Tutsi occurred and I don’t think anyone would have prophesied us hosting the second biggest football tournament on the continent in such a time -span,Africa welcome to Rwanda.