The BBC is one of the largest and respected media organisations in the world; however, this profile must not carry authority to bully a small developing country in Africa.
There is no doubt it is disrespectful, and insulting for Razvan Scortea (BBC’s head of French and Great Lakes Languages services) to go on air and say that they would continue to work as they were doing before the suspension of Kinyarwanda programs. To add insult to injury, he said this only a day after getting back on air.
On behalf of the BBC, the first commitment Jerry Timmons (Director, Middle East and Africa department) made was “Re-emphasise to producers and editors, who have responsibility for output to the great lakes region and specifically Rwanda that the BBC is not to be a platform for incitement to hatred or violence.”
Both Scortea and his boss Timmons are not Kinyarwanda experts. They may have found themselves in a situation where the Kinyarwanda editors and producers played the language game at the expense of BBC’s credibility in Rwanda. Nevertheless, that’s no excuse.
It goes without saying; the Kinyarwanda programs are very popular. They have steadily built a reputation and a large pool of listeners, but of recent, all that has been watered down so fast through repeated airing of material that is capable of inciting hatred, divisionism and violence.
This is unacceptable to the Rwandan people. If the BBC is not willing to change their content, let the Kinyarwanda programs be banned.
Sometimes, letting things go is an act of greater power than defending or hanging on.
It is easy for the BBC to cite the lack of press freedom when the Rwandan Government shuts down the Kinyarwanda service. But, when compared to the damage their coverage is capable of causing, there is no doubt “lack of press freedom” ticket is by far a lesser evil.