It does not require rocket science to understand the principles of living longer. The answer is just with us and very simple.
Behind Kigali Convention Centre is a busy suburb known as Rugando. Before a large part of this suburb was expropriated to pave way for the gigantic and modern complex, Rugando was a very busy slum.
Today, Rugando has gradually transformed into an organised neighbourhhod with permanent houses and a streamlined descent lifestyle.
Taarifa decided to stroll through this neighbourhood that has been blanketed by the Oval shaped giant complex that can be seen from every hill in Kigali.
At night the Oval complex’s multi-coloured lights stage an impressive rotating pattern. By 11.59PM these lights are switched off.
So if you are wondering around Kigali and don’t know what time it is in the night, just you’re your eyes towards Kigali Convention Centre and if you notice its melting with multi coloured lights then just know it’s not yet late because when its lights go down then its midnight.
Back to Rugando, at around 4PM, Taarifa hooks up with a jovial pensioner Mzee Fidel Munyentwari 62. He is at a neighbourhood bar sipping local brew.
Before greeting him, he reaches for a match box in his pockets and lights up a cigarette and puffs off sending a quick line of smoke into the sky.
Munyentwari is a regular at this bar, he engages other revellers seated meters away from his table as they wait to be served beer.
“The secret to living longer is first of all obeying God because you can live longer but if you do not obey God, life will be tough. The second secret is living at peace with all the people by not starting quarrels, avoiding fights and injuring others,” Munyentwari says.
Munyentwari also said that humility and good manners mean a lot to long life even when people around do not get along very well.
Referring to a verse in the Bible, Matthew 5: 9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
He compares humility with a car Jerk. “A car jeark is held up by one hand but hoists up a whole loaded car. If you called 30 persons to come and lift the car they cannot hoist the car up whatever side they grabbed it by,” he says.
He also advises that if one wants to be great, first of all, they have to be humble and flexible like metal that is heated up and takes the shape that its maker chooses.
Patricia Mukakibibi also lives in Rugando. She says that she has outlived many of her contemporaries. She cannot precisely remember her age, but guesses she may be more than 100 years old.
Like Munyentwari, she also believes in the fact that there is something beyond human understanding that can makes us live longer: God.
“Life depends on God. You cannot say that tomorrow you will be in this or that situation. Look, I have lost my vision. I cannot look around and know who is talking to me. Where I used to go, I can’t go anymore. Many have died and I’ve stayed alive,” she says.
Mukakibibi says that living with others is very important because we all need eachother and that helps us live longer than loners.
“No one knows when they will die or how long they will survive. You meet with someone on the road and talk all the way, friendship has already started. When they are gone, you keep remembering them. You can ask them about something you do not understand very well and they help you out,” she says.
Vianney Nzabakurana Bikumbura 65 also says that if you live at peace with yourself and live at peace with other people you will live better. Even if some people will hate you they will not all of them hate you.
“You have to live your own life depending on the way you deal with things. Yes, you will need others to help you but you should know yourself better than anyone else. You cannot cry to someone for support while you do not take care of yourself,” Nzabakurana said.
He emphasises that while some people are not welcoming, one will always need others because in life we are not equal.
He advises young people not to worry about other people’s possessions but use one’s own ways to get his or her own things.
According to estimations based on the 2012 Population and Housing Census of Rwanda, the life expectancy at birth for women in Rwanda will increase by 3.5 years, from 66.2 in 2012 to 69.7 years in 2020 while for men it will increase by 3.2 years from 62.6 to 65.8 years for the same period.
Estimates show that the total number of person aged 60 years and above, will be 707,058 in 2020 with 410,682 women (in 2012, the number of persons aged 60 years and above was 511,738 and 304,499 were women).