By MARK MUTAHI
The Rwandese government has launched a crackdown on Kenyans living in Rwanda who have a record of wearing plastic smiles. This is in line with the Rwandese government policy of eradicating all plastics in the country as an environmental conservation measure.
Plastic smiles, the government of Rwanda claims, are non-biodegradable and are, therefore, harmful to the environment.
“We cannot tolerate plastics in this country and we will do everything in our power to root out any foreigner who goes about with a plastic smile,” warned the Rwandese minister for Environmental Conservation, Jean Mbabazi. “We will do everything possible to conserve our environment even if it means putting a frown on the culprits.”
While issuing the directive the minister for Environmental Conservation hastened to add that Kenyans living in Rwanda should be thankful because he was doing them a favour.
“By discouraging plastic smiles, I am in fact, helping Kenyans. As you know, plastic smiles are known to consume more energy than real smiles. We are thus protecting Kenyans from running low on energy and consequently ending up fainting,” explained the minister.
Analysts of body language say the prevalence of plastic smiles among Kenyans is a consequence of the many problems Kenyans face. These include the high cost of living, insecurity, greed among the political class, Ethiopia and Uganda snatching the gold in some of the races the Kenyans previously dominated, bad reality shows, the return of Mututho and the 2013 Marriage Bill.
With the crackdown, Kenyans in Rwanda now live in daily fear and in typical Kenyan fashion are already asking for their government to intervene contrary to the belief that when you are far away from home, you tend to forget your usual way of doing things.
“The government should step in and save us. After all most of the problems that are preventing us from having genuine smiles on our faces have something to do with the government,” pleaded one Kenyan in Kigali.
“I don‘t know what to do now, I have lived here for many years and life here is good. I can‘t imagine going back to a life of travelling in matatus with radio presenters talking dirty while I am sitting next to people my children’s age,” one of the Kenyans facing repatriation mourned.
Like Kenyans are wont to do, many have taken to doing everything in their power to avoid being repatriated. Some of the Kenyans interviewed admitted that some of the tactics they have been employing include ensuring that whenever they encounter the Rwandese environment police, they look down to avoid their plastic smiles being detected. Others have taken to not smiling at all.
One thing that will not work though is bribing. Kenyans who are used to bribing their way out of every little problem will have it rough because Rwanda is the least corrupt country in the region.
But despite the tricks, ingenious Kenyans may have to up their sleeves, the Rwandese environment police say it is all too easy to tell a plastic smile from a genuine one.
“On a hot day,” one officer explained, “people with plastic smiles smell like, well, burning plastic.”