The gift; By Ntagara Nat

The sun rises brightly, gracefully and obediently shines on the hills of a nation appropriately dubbed the “ land of a thousand hills”; which is officially known as Rwanda. A nation once marked by genocide is tenaciously overcoming its past. I sit on the porch of a family home that seems to be hanging on the upper end of a hill and observe the life in the valley.
 There are women with their babies tied to their backs and merchandise arranged on their heads marching in the direction of the market, children in school uniforms parading to their respective institutions, taxi mottos hopelessly trying to beat the “traffic” , corporate and private cars eagerly seek room on the street,  the young, old and undecided dominate the street. I look down to this busy valley filled with so much life, hundreds upon hundreds of life stories.  In my mind, I pick a couple candidates from the valley and I imagine their stories but I am quickly reminded of the old adage that states; “don’t judge a book by its cover”, we can equally say don’t judge a life by it’s packaging – impressions can deceive.
   I must admit the view down the valley is beautiful yet intimately humbling, at times chaotic yet calming and hopeful.  Speaking of hope, I recall the wise words of John Lubbock; “ It is certainly wrong to despair; and if despair is wrong, hope is right ”. On this note, I begin to imagine each soul in the valley as a light of hope in the mirror of life. They are multitudes of breaths, spiraled into multiple experiences and molded into an original existence.  I recall sitting on that particular porch in my moment of despair and finding hope in the valley. Hope is a gift that is available to us whether we’re in the valley, a dark alley or at the edge of a hill.  I look beyond the valley to the green pastures that inhabit the other side of the hill- my experience thus far has truly been a gift in disguise.
Despair has a way of masking the hope rooted in the beauty that surrounds us in spite of the challenges we face.  Hope is a choice we have to make even in seemingly hopeless situations. It is a gift we unveil at times with silk or satin ribbons, and at other times rubber ribbons.  Hope is a gift that alleviates the discomfort of despair and to a certain extent, keeps one sane. The latter has at least been my experience thus far, in this land they call a thousand hills. And I hope that I can conclude the same thing in a year or 2 and many more to come.
The truth is I am a child of the universe and before you get all ‘new age’ on me, I mean a globe trotter- my “address” is where I am in the moment.  But for the sake of being human, we all have an “ I come from…” statement- a cultural heritage. You may not know yours but if you’re a humanoid you have a cultural heritage. The appropriate social and political term for  a “come from…” like me is an “expat”.
Nonetheless, this ‘expat’ ideology has become quite familiar to me recently.  The notion of reconnecting with one’s cultural heritage and growing accustomed to the mentality therein seems like a masquerade at times.  On that note, I've come to believe that at times another party’s mask has a mirror effect on us. In essence, the latter prompts us to look within and recognize that perhaps we have a mask and we too need to be unveiled- sort of undone for a purpose beyond simply self-discovery.
 I am an onion of hope and as time passes in this land of a thousand hills or wherever I am in the “moment”, my layers are peeled away in preparation to activate the purpose within authentically. The challenge remains; which is that we cannot grow without change and that usually involves a degree of discomfort.
However, hope is our companion- a gift we must choose to use, whether we are in the valley or at the edge of a hill.  You may never live in the land of a thousand hills but you may have a thousand issues, challenges and bills. On that note, my hope for you is that you would  prevail through the masquerade, peeling and finding the gift of hope in all you traverse.