I guess time has come for Rwandans to call a citizens’ action against all journalists!
For, if last Sunday I was yelling my greying head off because some affiliates of foreign-languages-speaking organisations were not sparing the President time for a shut-eye, the same Sunday it was our very own news slingers at it.
Just imagine! You are at home on a good, chilly Sunday and think this is the right time to gather your brood and let them chant after you the first prayers in the good old catechism book.
So, when they are good and ready, you begin: “In the name of the Fath— ”
“No! Mr, President, there is a crisis!” You think it is the threat of genocide but before you blink, the radio blares: “We have the President of the Republic here in a press interview which is having place in his office…”
Please, Mr. Rwagatare, don’t reach for that noose! ‘Avoir lieu’ does exist.
You are still listening to this interview, and the same interviewer goes on: “Nyakubahwa Perezida, aya mashikirano yenda kuba …..”
Mr. Musare, don’t tear your diplomatic jacket!
The case I am making to both gentlemen and anybody who cares passionately about their language is that you’d be surprised at the agility in languages of that interviewer.
You’ll be astonished if you are to require him to switch to French. He’ll glide over the French vocabulary with the ease, elegance and sophistication of a gazelle swishing over a bush cluster.
That is the beauty of the multilingualism of Rwanda. It has never ceased to amaze me whenever I’m sitting next to some youths. In 5 minutes flat, they’ll have gone through an equal number of languages!
You’ll be sitting next to two lads speaking Luganda, who’ll switch to Kiswahili when a third one joins them. When a fourth one arrives, they’ll change to Lingala because his/her parents lived in D.R. Congo.
When a fifth one comes in who was born in Belgium, they’ll slide into French so easily that you’ll be left breathless. But when you think they have exhausted their bag of lingoes, you hear them speaking English, because the late comer is American-born!
Understandably, the standard of their skills may not be high, as every adult rightly laments.
However, when you think of the quantity of books we used to devour in our time, novels and all, and you see how these kids literally depend on photocopied notes for their education, you can understand.
Even then, the older ones among them have a language they have mastered, out of those they speak. But my apologies, I have digressed so! I was talking about an apparent crisis, remember?
So, the interviewer in last Sunday’s radio interview posed his question thus: “Mr. President, isn’t your anti-inefficiency and anti-corruption cane too long?
It is causing a crisis because of the number of ministers and mayors being locked up or forced to resign.”
Another one joins in: “Mr. President, the papers are full of ministers who are fornicating with colleagues or with mayors.” A crisis? You wonder if the fair journalists want their country to be defined by the karma as prescribed by a Munyamulenge pastor.
You remember, the one whose voice reminds all on Radio Rwanda every Sunday: “…Kuko ibitsina bigomba gukora ico biggenewe…” The “gg” are two to try and capture the back-throat sound as they pronounce it.
Still, the journalist persists: “They are also full of stories of ministers and mayors fiddling with tendering contracts and fund allocations.”
Of course, the journalist got the answer, that the crisis would be in not dealing with any official, in government all out, who was not performing.
And, as usual, in that almost 5-hour Sunday marathon interview, journalists got exhaustive answers to these and myriad other questions. And, for good measure, they were promised an encore any time they desired.
Just as those weird and oft contradictory questions from foreign reporters get their answers, whenever the President is intercepted on his trips out. “Mr. President, you are on your way to get a prize for good governance, but your rule is authoritarian.”
“Mr. President, you are going to receive a medal because the Rwandan legislature is women-dominated, why? Why is the government Tutsi-dominated, the country still Hutu-dominated, the economy ICT-dominated, the governance vision-dominated, why?”
“Mr. President, you must be the strong-man ruler of your country. Why is the region dirt-and-disorder-dominated, ineptitude-dominated, corruption-dominated, war-dominated and yet not your country?”
If these questions seem crudely hyperbolic, it’s because I don’t exactly capture the phraseology that foreign correspondents use. Otherwise, shone of the veneer of selective grammar and diction, their questions are tenfold coarser.
I’ve seen presidents who last gave an interview when they had just been voted into power and others only when hosting a queen! Rwanda’s monthly interview is one too many, knowing it is sprinkled with when dignitaries visit.
We, citizens of this land, demand a breather for our President from all journalists, especially on weekends!