When President John Pombe Magufuli assumed office in Tanzania in October 2015, his first foreign visit was to nextdoor Rwanda in early 2016.
The arrival of Magufuli was a sigh of relief for Rwanda that had plunged into frosty relations with President Jakaya Kikwete whose style of leadership was dangerous to Rwanda’s interests in the region.
President Kagame hosted Magufuli at his private home on the banks of Lake Muhazi and gave him five cows- this ‘cow giving’ is only reserved for a person one values highly, according to the Kinyarwanda culture.
For Kagame gifting cows to Magufuli meant that there are qualities he admired in his personality and friendship.
According to this culture, one that is given is expected to give back although no specific time frame is given but children or grandchildren of the recipient always hold this gesture seriously and have to give back even generations after.
It also means the two families are solidly bonded and non is expected to renegade on this bond.
Kagame may have offered these cows to Magufuli as a private person or as head of state or both.
It therefore means that either families of Magufuli and Kagame or the governments of the countries they lead shall remain friends.
By deeply thinking about this African cow giving culture, a cow is a symbol of love, expressed to a trusted and reliable friend.
In August 2011, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda drove to Rwanda accompanied by his wife Janet Museveni and daughter Natasha Museveni- they were hosted by President Kagame at his country home at lake Muhazi.
Kagame gave Museveni 10 long horned cattle, commonly known as Inyambo.
And in a return visit to Uganda, Museveni also gave Kagame 20 long horned cows.
The cows were ferried to Kagitumba border in January 2012 and were received by the head of the livestock department in the Ministry of Agriculture.
Also in March 2018, President Paul Kagame travelled to Ethiopia and was given a cow by Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed and described it as a great symbol of the culture both countries share.
When families have given cows to each other, they consider each other as reliable friends.
Since Kagame has given cows to Museveni and Magufuli, it means these are reliable friends.
Therefore in such a culture, whenever a friend is in problems, the only reliable friend to help is the one that received or gave a cow.
In the ongoing border crisis and other thorny issues between Rwanda and Uganda, the only possible and trustable mediators would be John Magufuli and Dr. Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia.
Although Museveni has not given any cows to Magufuli, it is publicly known that he reveres Mwalimu Julius Nyerere the father figure of the united Peoples Republic of Tanzania.
It should also be remembered that the Late Nyerere was in 2009 honoured with “Uruti” medal which is Rwanda’s National Liberation Medal.
He was also honoured with “Umurinzi” medal, Rwanda’s Campaign Against Genocide Medal.
Magufuli is strongly considered to be a reflection of Nyerere especially in a way he manages affairs of the state with absolute zero tolerance to corruption and wasteful spending.
Therefore the point of intersection for Kagame, Museveni and Magufuli is actually Mwalimu Nyerere.
According to the office of the President Kagame is in Tanzania for a working visit and will be meeting with President Magufuli for bilateral talks.
When both leaders meet this evening for private discussions, they will remind each other of the cows they have both exchanged between themselves and also rekindle the principles of brotherhood always preached by Mwalimu Nyerere.
After this meeting, both leaders will either announce or make statements similar to an end of aggression and a restart of a new chapter.
Back to the cattle story. Cattle keeping culture considers that at some point, those cows will always rub their horns against each other.
This is not to mean aggression, but an acknowledgement of disagreement and little friction.
Nevertheless, the sun will set, and the night will dawn, but Museveni and Kagame will meet and iron out the current tensions.
They have no choice anyway.