Two days ago, The Associated Press (AP) an international news wire service, in an unprecedented move, released a statement correcting a story, about Rwanda, circulated last week. AP admitted that the story was false and evidently misleading:
‘In a story July 2 about an exiled Rwandan General in South Africa, The Associated Press, relying on a South Africa Press Association report, erroneously reported that South Africa’s foreign Ministry said foreign “security operatives” were involved. The foreign ministry says it never made such an allegation’. The statement reads.
This is the kind of treatment Rwanda has been subjected to, by regional and international media networks; someone initiates a falsehood calculated to smear the government of Rwanda, and media houses pick it up and disseminate it, without ever bothering to check the accuracy.
I am, indeed, surprised that AP has had the decency to make the correction. They usually don’t.
Quite frankly, though, the correction doesn’t amount to anything, given the damage the dispatch has caused to Rwanda. What you have in this case is a false story that has helped feed into the anti-Rwanda frenzy; it is the sort of reporting that has recently informed public opinion on matters related to Rwanda.
For instance, not a single subscriber of the news agency has followed AP lead to put the story right. On the same day that the news wire released the story, Ugandan newspapers including the Daily Monitor and The New Vision run the story, and they have chosen not to publish the correction, even after their “source” has declared the story a lie.
The most nauseating aspect of this reporting based on falsehoods, is the way some of our regional and local journalists have chosen to rely on such deliberately distorted narrative from Western media outlets, to inform the African people.
Timothy Kalyegira, a Ugandan journalist, has over the years, epitomized this form of bankrupt approach relying on news organizations such as The Associated Press, which just owned up to the fact that they have been peddling lies about Rwanda.
In his Sunday Monitor, July 4, 2010 piece, Rwanda’s unresolved secret history, Kalyegira, goes on to write that
‘The Associated Press published a story with this headline on June 29: ‘Rwanda’s Hutus live in fear of attacks, repression’. At this point how reliable would Associated Press stories about Rwanda be? Indeed why should a Ugandan journalist rely on foreign news media, to write stories about events in his own country, as demonstrated in Timothy Kalyegira’s article, with reference to BBC reports about Rwandan refugees in Uganda?
Timothy Kalyegira, attempts to portray The Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) as an organization that has been characterized by intrigues from its inception, citing the unfortunate deaths of some of the RPA commanders at the battle front, as proof of division within the party ranks.
Soldiers die in war, and Timothy Kalyegira lives in a country where more top commanders died in their own liberation struggle than those lost by the RPA. Yet he has never sought to portray the losses in his own country as a result of internal conflicts and intrigues.
At about the time Kalyegira was letting out what is evidently his wish for a Rwanda “headed for self-destruction”, the Rwandan people were putting the record straight.
Two weeks ago, a Gallup research, carried out in Rwanda, revealed that an unprecedented 62% of the Rwandan population believe the government is doing an excellent job and expressed positive outlook for the future.
The dictionary definition of a Gallup poll is “a way of finding out what most people think about an issue by asking a number of questions”. When Gallup asked the Rwandan people about their living conditions and general welfare, the majority response was that life was getting better, placing Rwanda in the top slot in the region.
According to the polling organization it is only in Rwanda, for the East African region, where such level of optimism exists.
The Gallup exercise covered 117 countries world-wide, with Rwanda ranked the sixth, and placing second in Africa. What the Gallup findings reveal is that the Rwandan people are confident about the future and satisfied with government performance.
In Western democracies this kind of outcome, as recently released by Gallup polling firm, would easily constitute what is known as “approval rating”, and right now there is not a single Western government with such level of approval.
With the publication of such results, by a pre-eminent Western research organization, clearly showing impressive performance on the part of the government of Rwanda, you would expect journalists who have made it their pre-occupation to publish some of the wildest and most distorted stories about Rwanda, to simply shut up.
Indeed what Gallup proved is a totally different picture about the country far removed from what a section of the news media organizations would like the world to believe.
The polling organization conducted research among the Rwandan population, while virtually all the reporters writing about what they seek to portray as “Rwanda on the verge of collapse” have never been here.
The Gallup story is about the Rwandan people happy with their government and looking forward to a brighter future. It’s about time that the pundits sat and listened.