TODAY WE celebrate the World Press Freedom Day to hit home the importance of a free and vibrant media in society.
The term “Fourth Estate” to describe the media was not just a play of words, but rather a recognition that it plays a major role in nationhood by demanding accountability from the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary on behalf of the people.
Rwanda’s theme this year; “Free and Professional Media, a Driver for Development and Good Governance” could not have been a better choice.
Media practitioners in Rwanda know better than any other the inroads the local media have made in the last two decades, and they are better judges as they are directly concerned.
But every year, international media watchdogs seem to read from the same archaic script that never changes; year in year out; that Rwanda lacks even the most basic media freedoms. This is despite some of the most progressive laws enacted to strengthen and empower the profession.
There is no one template that fits all countries, neither are their priorities the same. But that argument seems to fall on deaf ears whenever the Rwandan situation becomes the centre of bigotry, fueling all sorts of half-baked assertions and holier-than-thou attitudes.
Charlatans among media players in the country need to get weaned off of the pauper mentality of taking foreign interests on a ride to gain a new lease of life in the West citing state harassment; that song has become too monotonous.