A group of German journalists has promised to share Rwanda’s recovery story after concluding their 10-day tour of the country.
The ten journalists were in Rwanda to ascertain how far the country had reached in its unity and reconciliation path following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Organised by the Jumelage Rhenanie-Palatinat (a longstanding partnership between Rwandan and German regions), the tour was aimed at enabling journalists to see first-hand and eventually depict the accurate picture of Rwanda’s recovery in Germany through personal experiences and observation.
“For German journalists, it is important to get direct impressions and personal experiences with the current situation in Rwanda 20 years after the Genocide and not to base their articles on hearsay,” said the head of the Jumelage Rhenanie-Palatinat office in Kigali, Uwe Mayer.
One of the participants, a journalist with the zdf (a German public television chain), Stefan Gagstetter, confirmed that his perception of Rwanda had changed following the tour.
“I wanted to get first hand information about Rwanda. What we hear about Rwanda in Germany is always connected with the Genocide. Being here now, I am surprised at the big strides this country has taken over the last 20 years. Rwanda is safe and clean and can serve as a model for its neighbours,” he said.
“Rwanda and Germany have a common history with both countries experiencing Genocide and Holocaust, respectively. Being in this country as a German makes me understand things better,” he added.
Besides giving the German journalists an insight into the country’s reality, the tour also aimed at strengthening partnership between Rwandan and German journalists.
Mayer, the head of the Jumelage office in Kigali, said German and Rwandan journalists have always worked closely.
“With this tour, we hope to strengthen the existing relationship,” Mayer said.
The group also held meetings with media houses and other organisations including TV10, the Press House, National Commission for the fight against Genocide (CNLG) and the Unity Club to get first hand information on the country’s situation.
During a meeting at The New Times, Mareike Broermann, a masters student from Mainz, Germany and coordinator of the group, said: “It is interesting to see how journalism works here. The exchange with Rwandan colleagues is great.”
Through her work with the Jumelage and several months spent in Rwanda, she had more knowledge about the country compared to the other members of the group who were visiting Rwanda for the first time.
“We all had images in mind when thinking about Africa,” Broermann said.
Jumelage Rhenanie-Palatinat is a non- profit organisation focusing on the exchange between Rwanda and the German region Rhenanie-Palatinat.
“The different sectors of Rwanda are linked to several communes in Rhenanie-Palatinat which makes it worthwhile for the two countries to partner,” Mayer said.
Jumelage Rhenanie-Palatinat is also behind several development projects in the country.