Our inability to focus on the big picture renders us towards trivial pursuits. We insist on existing in a state of blurriness that confines us to the status of a people that is easily excitable and bamboozled.
This singular state of being remains our greatest undoing. The choice is clear: we can be defensive about it and deny its existence; or, we could seek avenues for overcoming it in order to have a chance for a life of dignity and respect.
Consider the genocide. A fortnight ago the commission of inquiry that was established to ascertain whether the BBC made transgressions that deny or minimise the genocide –by airing the documentary titled “Rwanda: The Untold Story” – released its findings.
Despite the full report being accessible to the public online, those commenting on it are not addressing its content that clearly provides the evidence of denying or minimising the genocide, with repeated instances where the BBC has facilitated its perpetrators with a platform to promote their views of hate and incitement.
Take the time when on one of its programmes convicts of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) sent a message of reassurance that they are well-taken care of in prison and that they are hopeful to someday return to power in Rwanda.
That is just one example. The point I am making is that anyone commenting on the relationship between the BBC and the Government of Rwanda who refuses to discuss the contents of in the inquiry report is being sidetracked from the gravity of the transgressions – denying genocide and facilitating its perpetrators – towards a conversation about the trivial.
One may excuse the ordinary person who is concerned about the suspension of Urunana. However, a university professor, perhaps in haste to be the first person to comment on the report, forgot to read the contents therein. As a result, according to a local vernacular newspaper, he disagrees with the inquiry’s recommendation for ‘cancelling all BBC programmes.’
First, that is not what the recommendation says. Secondly, and most importantly, had that been the good professor’s genuine interpretation after reading the report, then he ought to have assuaged the fears of the ordinary person by explaining that as entertaining as Urunana may be, the present circumstances dictate that, as a society, we do not lose focus on the gravity of the transgressions and what is really at stake.
But alas! The fog is in the way.
And it is pervasive.
It has been exploited by the international media, for instance. The discussion on leadership tends to focus on longevity in power to make conclusions about the “Big Men.” When the conversation ought to be about how their being in power has affected people’s lives.
In similar fashion, the debate on the type of governance system we want often focuses on democracy instead of what it is intended to deliver: the improved quality of life.
So much time is also spent on the tribe that is in power on the happenstance of the individual at the helm when meaningful discourse ought to be about how this power is being exercised and whether there is systematic exclusion.
Of course not a single soul would ever be taken seriously for saying that blacks are in power in America simply because their president happens to be black. Neither would one be considered of sound mind if he were to conclude that the Scots are in power in Britain by virtue of David Cameron’s Scottish stock.
We seem not aware that those promoting such conversations want to distract us and consider us to be easily distracted. At one time this was explained as being the result of our child-like nature that tends to preoccupy us with the trivial. Today, however, only the pure racists from the lunatic fringe continue to harbour such sentiments.
Scholars say that the real reason we tread in trivialities is because we have found a way to benefit from them – by instrumentalising our people’s ignorance. As a result, those among us who are able to distract as many people as possible – from pathways for improving their lives towards petty concerns – end up being our leaders.
Which brings me back to where I started. The content in the inquiry report is a chance for a fresh start, a reset button for everyone dealing with the subject of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. It is a chance for outsiders to think deeply on how they can develop the appropriate sensibilities with knowledge that they cannot minimise a tragedy of that magnitude simply because their ignorance considers its victims as human beings of a subordinate status.
It is also a reminder for all of us that the challenge of our generation is to develop a collective consciousness around the genocide and our responsibility towards its survivors, to arrive to the recognition that genocide, by virtue of our actions and inactions, put into question our human descriptors.
For us to step away from the fog by grasping that any other conversation on that subject is a distraction.