Forty carefully-selected Rwandan journalists from both print and electronic media will have gone through quite helpful training sessions by tomorrow night.
Rwanda Initiative, a non-governmental organisation which had a few shots in its own foot sometime last year, is responsible for the workshop taking place since Monday in the Southern Province town of Butare.
The two and a half-year-old project’s otherwise noble cause was almost fatally derailed when some of its Canadian visiting trainer-journalists published a series of unhelpful stories on their blogs as they returned home, some of which bordered on outrightly being harmful.
The stories mainly focused on the freedom of expression, or the lack of it, in the country. Besides the wrong analyses made in the stories, the journalists’ works were perceived in various circles here as widely off the media capacity-building mark, which was the Initiative’s mandate.
Now Rwanda Initiative is quickly shedding off that image of ‘just another NGO’ here present, without real impact on society and probably dangerous, by putting together a plan and resources that will make a difference.
The shifting into another gear by the Initiative has been launched through the on-going five-day training workshop. But there is more to come.
By year’s end close to ten Rwandan journalists will have benefited from scholarship and internship offers from Carleton University and a number of other media institutions in Canada.
It has been argued severally by analysts that Rwanda’s development machine has been fuelled by the West’s cooperation resulting from the guilt for having indifferently looked on as one million people were butchered in 1994. Who cares?
Similarly, if Rwanda Initiative’s planned actions aimed at bridging the glaring skills gap in the media industry are partly premised on the mistakes it made last year and key points to the cause it had so far missed, then its refocusing can only be a welcome development as we wait for the likely benefits to be registered in our trade.