Maybe you’ve never heard of a newspaper called ‘News of the World’. It is as well, because it has parked, anyway.
I wouldn’t have been aware of it either, but for being sent packing from my homeland in 1959 for being born a wrong Rwandan. How the Belgian colonialist concluded that this small android-like boy would not kowtow to them, only God knows. Hopefully, He’ll tell me when I finally pay Him a visit.
Anyway, young android living in a refugee camp as I was, I was eager to join a secondary school and get out of the squalid life of a camp. Problem was, I would be required to communicate in English. Which is how I met ‘News of the World’, as I had a burning quest to read anything that was in English.
Tell me, from a ‘classroom’ under a tree where English was taught in Kinyarwanda, how do you start pronouncing that alien lingo? Matters were not helped by teachers who, when they dared read such words as ‘neighbour’, produced something like “negihaburu” and ‘mature’ became “meichar”! However, we knew them as having been schooled in the language of the Frogs (French to you) and could not blame them.
Luckily, our schools were not the arid landscapes of today, in terms of books. The library was bursting at the seams and you could read any book or newspaper/magazine/comic of the world. When you were not buried in a book on Metaphysics, it’d be in the latest news in Europe or the adventures of Tintin or Lance Spearman – remember that African James Bond?
So, I read everything but when it came to world news I cherished ‘News of the World’ over other newspapers and magazines like ‘Drum’, ‘Readers’ Digest’, ‘Punch’, or ‘Newsweek’. That is how I was slowly able to catch up and articulate the English words like our Indian schoolmates who seemed to have been born speaking the language.
In fact, now I could even laugh at some of them who made what we called “bombastic blunders” like: “Bot off you tree poys, com’ere!” (for ‘Both of you three-sic-boys, come here’)! There were many others, of course, but that’s neither here nor there!
As for ‘News of the World’, unfortunately, when I checked on the internet recently, I found that it was no longer the serious source of reliable news that I’d got used to. It had become a tabloid that seemed to only be interested in nude, female flesh or the latest scandals involving celebrities and politicians.
Even then, I was very sad to hear that it had fallen victim to its own change of character. When you consider that its first edition was 1st October1843, you can’t help but feel pity. Listen to their sombre farewell: “After 168 years, we…say a sad…farewell to our 7.5m loyal readers.” Well, ‘New Times’, eat your heart out! You’d need the whole population reading – reading English, at that.
Anyway, what amuses me is something totally different. Ever heard of a busybody that has no borders? Well, looks like when it attempts to enter any country belonging to our developed ‘partners’, it sees those borders. I’ve always wondered, are those frontiers visible in the West because those ‘Reporters’ understand their languages better?
Because, attempt to prompt a more vain newspaper like ‘Umuseso’ and ‘Umuvugizi’ to tread the straight path and you’ll see fangs spelt out as ‘R-e-p-o-r-t-e-r-s-S-a-n-s-F-r-o-n-t-i-e-r-s’ hanging over your head like the sword of Damocles! It seems that because our Rwandan newspapers are in Kinyarwanda, the frontiers are invisible and the ‘Reporters’ come in their battalions.
What am I on about? You’ve heard of the story about ‘News of the World’ shutting down its business. This was because it was revealed that its editors and reporters were hacking into telephone conversations of political and business bigwigs in the UK for blackmail purposes. They were even found to have bought secret information on these individuals from police. It transpires, then, that in the West they also do not allow underhand methods of reporting.
So, it would look like it is fine to clamp down on newspapers that do not offer objective news in the West. My dilemma now is: why is it wrong for African governments to rein in rogue reporters who are blowing cinders of hatred instead of doing an honest job? Why should ‘Reporters Without Borders’ (RWB) bring out the axe when any African country tries to correct them?
For sure, if what has happened to ‘News of the World’ had happened to an African newspaper, the mailing service would now be burning with furious requests to explain this “repression” and “gagging of free press”. And that when you nudge one owner/editor/reporter – who publishes his/her own one-week-old, four-page ‘newspaper’ that boasts one page of ‘news analysis’ and three pages of advertisements – to behave!
But isn’t it also telling that the British police would be involved in such scams? No wonder they can dare confess that they cannot guarantee security to their citizens! Moreover, they are scared by a tiny country in far-away Africa!
RWB, wake up before the bigger and better British version of a Kabonero is nabbed!