A letter to the editor of weeks ago in this daily is still nibbling at my mind.
The author, quoting a known Rwanda-hating foreign paper’s report that this country was doctoring her economic growth statistics to paint a rosy picture of Rwanda, said he was in agreement.
Supposedly, the doctoring is in the name of attracting donor aid.
(Hah! When everybody knows how this country is striving and almost succeeding to totally wean herself off aid.)
Because, laments this fellow African, the media here is nothing but a gallery of praise-singers to the government, when, on the contrary, it’s core role should be “to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”
This mantra, if it can be called that, I personally have no quarrel with.
Only, I always have qualms over these worn-out quotes that people advise everybody to live by, without giving the contexts in which they were made. It’s good to adopt codes from others, sure, if they can improve your own specific situation.
But that ‘mantra’ is said to be from a quote by a 19th-century American journalist, Finley P. Dunne, who imagined a bartender character called Martin Dooley. This fictional character’s monologues more or less became a Chicago tradition, it’s said.
The quote says: “Th’ newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It runs th’ polis force, [etc., etc.) …comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable, [etc.]….”
And so, as per our adviser, our media should live by that 19th century Chicago tradition: run our police force, banks; command the military; control the legislature; baptise the young; marry the foolish (God knows why not also the wise!); bury the dead and roast them too. Yes, if it’s to go by the mantra of afflicting the comfortable, etc.!
Because, why pick a piece of quote out of its totality? Why not go the whole ridiculous hog? Which “whole hog” would expose the inanity of parroting whatever is fed us by these Western media outlets because we take them for harbingers of the holy truth.
In my peasant opinion, I’d disagree. The media should give us balanced reports of events or situations, rather than solely embark on afflicting anybody, comfortable or not.
If you have earned your creature comforts honestly, why afflict you? But if there has been any dishonesty, oh, yes, media, go out and afflict and afflict some more!
And do not stop there. Expose the dishonesty and call for the law to take its cruel course.
Media, give us balanced reports, yes, but even then, we’ll endeavour to source elsewhere for confirmation.
Which is what our kind opinion dispenser should have done. Dig deeper to confirm the report. Because he’d have found that that “statistics-doctoring” baloney heaped on Rwanda was devoid of an iota of validity. Simply because the source of the statistics is the World Bank.
It’s neither the Rwandan government nor a creature of the Rwandan media.
But the said Rwanda-hating The New York Times, used to jumping at any chance to spew venom on its object of loathing, grabs the break without verifying the source. And goes to town with it, with its ready toxic commentary from Rwandan outlaws in exile “to confirm it”.
So, is our opinion donor also going to swallow this because The New Yok Times says it? That Rwanda is overly eager to host stranded Africans in Libya because she’ll harvest abundant financial gain from the European Union?
In their worship of the ‘truth’ made in Western media, he and his African ilk will not think twice about considering how some of these media outlets are there to push dubious agendas on some African countries. They will not pay attention to what’d be a little eye-opener for them.
“The Government of Rwanda, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the African Union signed an MoU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The group will be transferred to safety in Rwanda on a voluntary basis. Under the agreement, the first group of 500 persons in need of international protection will be evacuated soon.”
Where is the European Union in all this?
There, a dispatch from the source, the parties in Addis, stares them in the face. But none will care to give it a glance; they’ll run to The New York Times for the ‘real’ truth.
‘Nyamara’ if they’d been keen observers of these Western ‘thruths’, they’d have seen how from the 1990s they trashed the Gacaca court system; Umuganda (free communal work); Nanga Nyakatsi (away with grass-thatch); Girinka (free offer of cows to the poor); on and on.
All programmes that astounded Western governments and choral conveyors of their propaganda, their media, when in no time they lifted a torn Rwanda from the abyss.
Fellow Africans, why swallow whole all that’s Western? Because that’s how the letter writer contradicts himself with: “The whole of Africa admires Rwandan rise from the ashes to [today’s] breath-taking transformation.”
It’s by being honest with themselves and in sync with their government that Rwandans are where they are today. And, bet on it, headed for a better tomorrow.
To my knowledge, no country on this globe has falsified itself into such a “breath-taking transformation”, ever.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.