There are two officers

Posted May 24, 2010 in Journalism, Rwanda

"You are a slow learner, Winston," said O'Brien gently.

"How can I help it?" he blubbered. "How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four."

"Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane."

I relived George Orwell's terrifying scene from 1984 last week.

I was at the border and there were two customs officers.

The government said there were four.

I tried hard to see four. I tried for an entire week, reformulating and re-posing questions. But despite my efforts, I just couldn't see four officers.

So I wrote the story.

In Canada, I could get away with alarming headlines. Here in Rwanda, I'll keep it tame: Government spokesperson insists there are four employees at the border, but people at the border say there are two, working 40-hour shifts.