Monday, August 16, 2010

Bad Things Could Happen In Rwanda, Congo, Burundi

"The blind and the lame came to Christ at the temple, and he healed them. But when the high priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant." (Matthew 12:14,15)
During the ongoing Great Lakes political `Tornado Season`, we have seen numerous examples of what Jeff Jarvis might call :
"internet skepticism, which is really anti-populist fear of a loss of centralized control."
The reaction by one of the media ` high priests` , Alex Perry, to comments on one of his articles concerning the Congo war, serves as a good example. Especially his condescending attitude towards longtime Congolese activist Kambale Musavuli gives us some insight in this mindset:
"Kambale — that, I presume, is everything you know about the DRC in one post. Bravo, old boy. Such knowledge. Such erudite depth. Such spelling."
Mainstream media in western Europe and the US have over the last 15 years consistently been able to succesfully ignore the views of immigrants from Congo, Rwanda and Burundi concerning politics in their countries of origin. And the recurring theme to justify this attitude is oftentimes "Bad Things Could Happen". Thanks to Blogging and Paul Kagame´s `pyrrhic victory` we are now seeing a sharp paradigm shift. Allthoug, as Alex Sinduhije points out:
"political space is growing smaller and smaller as Burundi falls under the influence of the Kagame regime next door"
It's through respected Rwandan journalists like Olivier Nyirubugara  and François Bugingo that public opinion is finally ready to put the "Paul Kagame lovestories" by the selfappointed "highpriests" like Perry, Gourevitch and Kinzer into proper perspective. Through articles by bloggers like Zimbabwean Fambai Zvakanaka and polish Carmelite Father Maciej Jaworski  a realistic picture of  public life and politics in Congo, Rwanda and Burundi is emerging. On- and offline collaboration through events like the "Rwandan Elections" at the European parliament by bugesera or the press conference at the National Press Club organized by  Claude Gatebuke in DC illustrate that a strong web community of bloggers, activists and journalists is emerging. In order to take advantage of the existing momentum  frequent opportunities to connect community members to each other is essential. What are your ideas, if any, on this? How could this be achieved?


Champ said...

Colored Opinions,

Social networking is a good place to connect but as you well know, the real work is done mostly on the ground with the things you mentioned in this post. HOwever, social media is also helping educate and connect the bloggers, activists, and the general public.

ColoredOpinions said...

I consider both on- and offline collaboration real work which can and does impact changes in public opinion.

Maybe you could explain your views a bit more, so I can get a better grasp of what you think changed public opinion in Europe and the US.