Biting the hand that feeds you

After what has turned into an almost month-long manhunt for the man whose site for a shopping centre caved in, the police have finally, thankfully, detained Kigali businessman Assinapol Rwigara.

After what has turned into an almost month-long manhunt for the man whose site for a shopping centre caved in, the police have finally, thankfully, detained Kigali businessman Assinapol Rwigara.

Opening up the newspaper yesterday morning should have been a joyous experience for Kigali; to finally see the man who has eluded police authorities since July 13 finally detained. But what happened was an anti-climax in several ways.

It’s an unclassic example of biting the hand that feeds you. It’s biting the hand you feed to feed you. It was completely illogical.

What is truly most confusing is the lack of understanding. The man has been missing for almost a month; he escaped an attempted arrest; he’s been in hiding and international groups have been saying he’s dead, or illegally detained. High-ranking military officials have been arrested because of Rwigara’s continued elusiveness.

When the president talks about not shooting oneself in the foot, the advice extends to both media and police alike.

There doesn’t seem like there could be one thing more valuable to the victims’ families; people of Kigali, Rwanda, and the government of the country than a clear photograph—irrefutable proof—that the man has turned himself in to the police and has been properly and legally detained.

Nothing could send a stronger message to the critics of Rwanda than publishing a picture of his arrest.

Unfortunately, instead of publishing it, The New Times, which has been a partner in disseminating information about the original tragedy and subsequent manhunt, was forced to delete the photographs after a cameraman was assaulted and detained on scene.

The media and government in Rwanda will always brush shoulders. Democracy and true safe-guarding of communities and peoples comes with this price. One half cannot pretend the other doesn’t exist when they are both working towards the same end; the overall betterment of society.

For this to really happen, as time changes and as Rwanda invests in modernity and cultural exchange, the city and specifically police must begin adjusting to the inevitability of cameras when pictures need taking. As they should adjust to the fact that a public spectacle needs no seeking of permission from police chiefs to behold, which is part of what photography is all about.

Ends

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