The eye sees what it wants to see

While shopping the other day, my sister commented on how true the saying was that the eye catches only what it wants to see. She was looking for some white items and lo and behold, white she saw! The same theme skirted a discussion between friends on the current media trends, and how bad news seemed to hit global headlines despite good things happening daily.
Catherine Kampire
Catherine Kampire

While shopping the other day, my sister commented on how true the saying was that the eye catches only what it wants to see. She was looking for some white items and lo and behold, white she saw!

The same theme skirted a discussion between friends on the current media trends, and how bad news seemed to hit global headlines despite good things happening daily.

The notion that intrigue, scandals, havoc and wars sell faster in the media makes the world a desperate situation for the faint-hearted.

This does not help if you have an opponent that values the persistent use of media in derailing your efforts, fuelled by a wanton thirst for the extraordinary by readers that are bored and yearning for some excitement outside of the normal.

It takes a lot of resilience to withstand such an almost ‘palpable’ will to bring you down, where every little mistake is hyped beyond proportions, while the good stuff is downplayed until one party finally succumbs.

A ‘stubborn’ little hard-to-crack nut like Rwanda is now under close scrutiny, fingers wagging; a weird-like will to pull it down the ranks.

On the one hand is the grudging admiration for its progress so far and purposefulness amidst challenges that bedazzles many. But on the other hand is the little inner devil that comes eyeing specifically for that which is perceived not correct in the seemingly perfect world, and lo and behold that’s all it sees!

There is also that other devil with a bone to contend with, gobbling at every little dirty media and jumping with glee when the target squirms in protest.

It does not really matter the truth of the matter, but the interest in the game. In any case, the current hype and accusations against Rwanda are nothing out of the ordinary that other countries haven’t done or aren’t doing as we speak.

But it is really becoming ridiculous and sounding more and more like some desperate witch-hunting ploy. If you are an impartial observer, you might wish to feel a little more of the undercurrent before getting judgemental.

The more gullible sympathisers take media wholesale, particularly hung on the ever increasing social networks where anyone can say what they want and convincingly so. And of course there are those that enjoy political play (and/or with some kickback), that are quick to sound the gong in a bored world that is dying for hot gossip.

The realisation that ‘big daddy’ does not necessarily play just and fair doesn’t help, and only adds confusion, bewilderment and disbelief in what is increasingly becoming the rule of the jungle (or has it always been?).

Like some young work mate advised one time, you have to learn to watch your own back.

Being passive by nature, the constant media on M23/DRC, Syria, Egypt, other commotions notwithstanding, are quite unnerving, and I am a little edgy as I pick a copy of Jeffrey Gettleman’s ‘The Global Elite’s Favorite Strongman’ for the NY Times, referring to President Paul Kagame.

He went to length to make it seem a balanced article but was obviously eyeing what he wanted as proof that the ‘strongman’ was a beast after all.

Every good attempt to make the country a better place is treated with such cynicism that one starts feeling sad for the dirty villager that is being ‘forced’ to be clean. 

Comparing Rwanda’s progress with that of Singapore, Mr Gentleman fails to mention that countries like Singapore, Korea or Japan, had to make tougher decisions and go through more intense discipline and sacrifice, to pave way for a better future.

For the layman, it would have been a more balanced article had he provided a small insight on what really went wrong between President Kagame and his opponents to make a fair gauge of their criticisms. He also makes slight of the need for nationals to pride themselves as Rwandans over and above ethnicity divides.

When you ask a foreigner where he is coming from, first thing he says will be his nationality. If you keep prodding an American for example, you sense some discomfort in explaining his roots and the origin of his ancestors. In any case, that is not priority as American.

But what is wrong with wanting your countrymen to critic an opponent based on his person or doings other than ethnicity? With so many intermarriages that happened and are still happening, the fact that one is Hutu or Tutsi should remain a personal option, but not a point for debate.

Secondly, it is increasingly becoming hard to differentiate between the two based on physical features alone, and it is hoped that the future generations will certainly look beyond such petty differences.

In a country like the DRC where many countries are looting something, somehow, one wonders what rationale Rwanda may have in creating war or interfering in its neighbour’s politics if it can still get an easy share of the loot anyhow.

For some, it is the bigger powers at play that are not really interested in peace for the DRC as in the loot. For others, it is for their personal grievances with President Kagame that they wish him to fail.

For quite a number that are surprisingly apolitical, it is the inner devil that is irritated by this little country trying to prove it can come up to speed.Sadly, Africa still allows external influences to divide and rule: ‘Pit them against each other, keep a safe distance, and pick up the pieces after they fail’.

Still edgy, I switch on the TV, anxiously eyeing the headlines. I then realise that some ordinary but quite important meetings are still taking place, a mass of people enjoying football, and good partnerships getting forged.

And yes, it’s great to watch every national irrespective, benefitting from the greatly improved hospitals in each province, and little children from all walks of life going to school.

I ease back into the chair, happy to see normal happenings in a normal country setting. The eye finally catches on to what it wants to see, if only for a little while. No wonder ignorance is bliss!

The writer is a social critic based in Kigali

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