On facebook, Thierry Uwamahoro and Ketty N. continue reacting on CharlesOnyango-Obbo’s article.
“Thanks Katty N. “What bothered me … in your post too, is the suggestion that journalists can no longer do their jobs.” I can’t figure out where I said that. I saw that somebody responded on the blog and pretty much said what I would have said.
You know media coverage is something that can be quantified. I haven’t seen anyone with data proving that what Obbo said that Burundi is ignored or goes unnoticed is not true.
Do we need to be famous? I don’t know. All I know is that we definitely need to be known as a country ripe and ready for investments, a country of tech-savvy innovators, a country of thought leadership, a country of hard working people, a country with innovative health care systems, etc … but, we will not be known for all these things if we are not even known in the first place. We will not be known if we are somehow ignored and left unnoticed. Many might argue that we are already all that above; but it doesn’t matter if we are already all that if it is not known (Again, not to belittle the point, Burundi Inc cannot be angry at its potential customers for not knowing its products). And being mad at those who tell us the truth will not change that. So, we need some smart leadership and individual actions to get there (to the little global exposure so that investors can find us as Melise said). Let’s keep up the good work”.
“Thierry, i think this might be a case of the egg and the hen...
My point is that real EAC journalists should be able to research and write on Burundi, regardless of how well known we are. Why? Because they are journalists. Not average citizens. Their job description is to dig. I reacted to Obbo's piece the way many of us react to western media's reports on Africa (starving kids with swollen bellies). There is no effort from media professionals to cover the country as well as they do in the rest of the region. part of that is because they have so few correspondents here. So I’m really not talking about the average citizen, potential investors, etc... I was specifically addressing the journalistic problem.
So again what bothered me in ur piece (which i actually like very much) is when you say that Rwanda gets more media coverage because it is more maketing-smart. I'm not talking about people on the street knowing about Rwanda. I'm talking professional articles, interviews, reports in the media. Of course it's the case, but is it right? Obbo says 'Burundi only appears when the regional media go the extra kilometre to cover it". Is it normal for journalists to wait for us to promote our country to do their job? Isn't "going an extra kilometre" part of the journalist's job description? That was my point.
Now whether we as a people need to take back and own our narrative is another question altogether. of course i agree. In fact i have been doing it every week through a literary club i co-founded, through publishing anthologies and promoting writers,... My personal approach is art & culture, which i believe is one of the most powerful tools to get our stories to the world. And a lot is happening already. Someone else does it through sports, entrepreneurship, science, or simply blogging. But let's not kid ourselves, people cannot substitute a well governed state.
In a nutshell, i am actually not that mad at Obbo, some of what he says is true, we bear a big responsibility, but that does not excuse the regional media from doing their job. And something in me will always instinctively stand up when my country is attacked, whether it's for the wrong or right reasons. Maybe it's just blind patriotism, but i could not bring myself to let that article pass... Cheers mate, and hope to meet u sometime - again, loved ur writing!”