Home NewsNational Who Trolls Whom Between Rwandans And Their Country’s Detractors In Western Media?

Who Trolls Whom Between Rwandans And Their Country’s Detractors In Western Media?

by Vincent Gasana
7:50 pm

Today, everyone with a smartphone has the right to counter whatever information they deem untrue, misleading or otherwise.

Rwanda is in its second week of Kwibuka30, the 30th anniversary commemoration of the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi. Stories of unimaginable human depravity sit alongside the most profound stories of the triumph of the human spirit. This would seem a magnet for a journalist worth the description. Instead, the response from some in Western media, has been to stitch together half truths and fabrications, about the country, one even touting a four old story as “the latest.”

Rwanda is used to Western journalists turning propagandists against the country, so when Irish journalist, Sally Hayden, popped up on twitter (X), maligning their country, Rwandans, who are highly active on social media, responded with the same derision, reserved for many others of her kind, who have come before her.

Hayden’s ire against Rwanda, had been provoked by reportedly being denied an entry visa to the country, something she seems to have regarded as an unacceptable affront.

The visa denial became a story in itself, covered in the Journal, a news outlet in the journalist’s native Ireland. The denial of a visa to her, she told her colleagues in the Journal, was evidence that Rwanda did not have freedom of the press or speech. For Ms Hayden, neither the country’s own journalists, nor the hundreds of foreign ones who annually file into the country, are of no consequence, if she is not in the country.

Most Western journalists feel themselves imbued with a sense of power, to damn or bless any African country, and woe betide any nation that displeases them. The world, no less, will be encouraged, if not directed, to turn against that country.

It is an unshakable conviction in journalist Michela Wrong, for instance, as she wages her tireless campaign against Rwanda. She is forever declaring that “the world” is about to turn away from Rwanda, largely it would seem, on her say so.

Similarly, with Hayden, this was a personal war against the country. For denying her a visa, Rwanda was going to be made to pay. “The world” would be told that it had neither freedom for speech, or media. How could they, if she was not allowed to report from there.

Taking her cue from Michela Wrong, Hayden also grandly claimed to be the target of “government and military employee trolls.”

Both journalists reckon without, or more likely, conveniently ignore the pride with which a largely young, social media dwelling population, in possession of smart mobile telephones, has in their country. These young Rwandans are also painfully aware of the high price paid by their parents and their elder brothers and sisters, to secure their nation. They are quick to jump to its defence, and occasionally tend to take no prisoners.

To compound the offence, as they almost certainly will have seen it, Hayden was attacking their country during Kwibuka. In this faceoff, between Rwandans and the Western detractors attempting to demonise their country, it is worth asking who are the “paid trolls.”

Ms Hayden was quick to flag up her journalistic credentials, including her reports while in Rwanda. She seems especially proud that her reports have been cited in the legal challenge to the UK-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership. Under the agreement, the UK would send migrants who arrive illegally into the country, to be settled in Rwanda.

There is no doubting Ms Hayden’s journalistic abilities, and therein lies the main fault with her. Were she to honestly judge her own work on Rwanda, she would find it wanting, and that is putting it charitably. It is not her journalism to which Rwanda will have objected, it is to the perversion of that journalism, into tendentious half truths.

Young Rwandans light candles in BK Arena during a night to remember for Kwibuka 30. Many of them will fight back if you attack their country.

“I have reported from Rwanda multiple times, over a decade…” she informs us, “what I have previously said is that Rwanda is a police state, without media freedom/freedom of speech. That means proper monitoring of the consequences and treatment of people sent there is not possible…”

The same “police state,” without media freedom, that suffered her to report there “multiple times over a decade”, despite the fact that her reports were wildly inaccurate to the point of being fabrications. In fact, Hayden had been to Rwanda no more than three times.

Like so many of Rwanda’s detractors in the media, Hayden seems to have gone to Rwanda with a story in mind, and would be damned if she was going to let the facts get in the way of that story. With that approach, it becomes inevitable to pervert the truth.

Perhaps more than a little ill advisedly, Hayden allowed her rage against Rwanda, to persuade her to dredge up an earlier story she wrote for the Guardian, while in the country. The story was published exactly four years ago, but she went on twitter (X), a few days ago, to announce it as the “latest” news about Rwanda.

“Rwanda Police Chief accused of sexual assault of child refugee at UN Centre” ran the headline. Dramatic stuff indeed. But look a little closer, and the sensationalist headline slowly turns into a damp squib. There certainly was such an accusation, but that is as far as Hayden’s reporting and the truth go, parting company immediately after that.

Rwanda is host to over a hundred thousand refugees. They include many who were rescued from what was a hellish limbo in Libya, where among the abuses visited upon them, was being sold in slave markets. The Gashora centre is run in partnership with the UN, and is a transit centre, with refugees being resettled in various Western countries.

The allegation of sexual abuse arose during the Sars-Cov-2 pandemic, when people’s movements were restricted in an effort to keep the highly contagious disease under control. The young people, all of whom were sixteen and above, had ignored the restrictions, returning drunk to the centre, where they were challenged by security. It was that challenge they alleged as a sexual assault.

Few countries take sexual crimes more seriously than Rwanda. The allegation was immediately investigated, and found to be not only baseless, but patently absurd. Why would the accused officer have committed any crime, let alone one as serious as sexual assault, apparently in front of an audience.

The suggested explanation for the source of the accusation, was that the boy had made it in the hope of being fast tracked for settlement in one of the Western countries that the refugees from Gashora. After the investigation, the matter was dropped, primarily for the sake of the boy.

Hayden is clearly an experienced journalist, who will have known all this, so why rush to write a story that obviously had absolutely no bearing on the reality, and why, four years later, brandish it on twitter (X), as “latest” on Rwanda.

And oh, her “Police Chief” accused of sexual assault? A junior police officer on guard duty, but, “Police Chief” sounded so much better, and so police chief it had to be. And Ms Sally Hayden is an award winning journalist, that is food for thought.

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