Say the truth and shame the wilfully blind!

I’ve said it here before. I have an aversion to journalistic reportage and language and that’s probably why I’ll never succeed in communicating objectively.

I’ve said it here before. I have an aversion to journalistic reportage and language and that’s probably why I’ll never succeed in communicating objectively.

I hate the journalistic tendency of comparing the incomparable in the name of finding a balance. Why not report things as you see them instead of carrying a baggage that you must use as a scale?

I have a duo of veteran Canadian journalists in mind, who will never fail to justify any insult. They had a stint in Butare, Rwanda, giving some tips to our budding journalists, but mine is not to name names (my feeble attempt at journalistic ethical conduct!).

Anyway, I think that may explain why I always find myself drifting to observations in private blog posts instead of news from the mainstream media outlets.

For instance, last Tuesday I was reading the blog post of a young American lady working in remote parts of Rwanda that made me wonder why journalists like her compatriot, Jefferey Gettleman (I’ll name him since I did last week, anyway!) of ‘The New York Times’,  cannot see the simple things that she sees.

Somebody will argue that she was expressing her private thoughts, but that won’t stop her observations from being factual. She reports things as she sees them without considering any interests of any quarter, local or foreign.

Reacting to floods of questions from home on whether Rwanda was not a dictatorship since it denied a ‘Human Rights Watch’ (HRW) employee a visa, she says: “The Human Rights Watch is a Western minded organization”.

And, indeed, that’s why it will never care to consider the reason for that denial, however valid it may be. Once the organisation has decided you are one-party dictatorship, the littlest action you take is a confirmation of their ‘fact’!

Andrew Mwenda, another ‘bare-knuckles’, independent thinker though journalist, says it’s called the “confirmation bias”! That way, he continues, such organisations and those who subscribe to their blindness “mistake the wind for a hurricane”.

However, the young lady. In the case of what it calls a “leading opposition contender”, Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza, in its blindness HRW “reacted so instinctively.….[that it].….propped [up] a questionable candidate,” she says.

She also takes particular exception to the interview that Christiane Amanpour gave to President Kagame on CNN. “How dare you,” she fumes, “accuse Kagame of proverbial ‘Gold-Digging’ when there were monstrous instances of murder happening in Rwanda” because of the remnants of génocidaires in D.R. Congo?

She goes on: “How could you broach the topic of Kagame and the DRC and not mention the Nyange School?” Of course, even in the short piece of interview that the young lady quotes, it is evident how President Kagame is at pain to explain how whatever happens should be considered in their context.

But who has the time? Because, if anybody did, wouldn’t they see the dividends in de-emphasising the ethnic identities and recognising the fact that Rwandans are just that, Rwandans?

What is a miracle, if this is not? The fact that these young kids, in the short time that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) had been in power, were ready to die rather than be divided into Bahutu and Batutsi. 

“We are all Rwandans,” said the heroic kids, some of whom paid with their young lives, and may they for ever be remembered!

“Why are we trying to criminalise the only African nation to experience such rapid economic and social success in our own history?” asks the American young lady. “Why are we making a villain out of the best thing that ever happened to Rwanda?”

And the young lady is not about done yet: “It has taken 15 years since the genocide and do you know what Rwanda has now? An infrastructure. Healthcare. Mandatory basic education. A rising economy. Emancipated women who are active in the political sphere. Shall I go on?”

And I say, “Lady, do not exhaust your young breath – for they don’t care what you say.” It’s not that HRW does not know about this rapid all-round development. Reporters Without Borders, Gettleman (not ‘n’!) of ‘The New York Times’, name them, they know better than most.

It’s because they are fixated in the arrogant tower of “confirmation bias” and they are praying for anybody to come and perform the miracle of confirming their biases, even if it means a diehard genocide-sympathiser in the ill-washed names of Victoire Ingabire, who only has the ethnic-sentiment whip to brandish.

Almost all of the eleven million Rwandans are behind RPF and all the members of the party are happy with the job that President Kagame is doing articulating the objectives of the party and the vision of the country.

So, why should they settle for some obscure talking-heads who have no political or policy agenda for the country, just because some foreign busy-bodies want their predictions confirmed?

The young American lady had many more pieces of advice to deal out, of course, but let me just quote her parting shot: “I would suggest turning your attention to places like Zimbabwe or Sudan, but seeing as there are genuine human rights issues occurring there, I imagine they don’t qualify for your help. Maybe in 15 years.”

Uhm, and how! In fact, in Rwanda it was after close to a hundred years. It was not until after a tenth of the population of the country had been wiped out that they pounced and now they are all over us.

As for presidential aspirants, to quote Andrew Mwenda again: can any of those so-called opposition politicians show Rwandans they have any “vision of healthcare, education, agricultural extension services, energy and infrastructure policy?” None has, because none does.

Rwandans should rejoice in the fact that they have friends galore, and that their enemies are but a blind, irritant trickle.

pbutam@yahoo.com

 

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