Monday, December 20, 2010


Mr. Kanuma;

Get Focus back on line. Rwanda needs an independent on line newspaper. My day starts with reading New Times on line to get the news; Monitor, Independent, and East African to get analysis; and my Bible to get truth. Without Focus on line I have nowhere to turn on line to get legitimate independent analysis from Rwanda. I do not believe that I am alone.

My reading habits have only gotten worse during the time that Focus has been off line. While I was away from Rwanda I noticed Focus’ on line disappearance. I am technically challenged. Thus I thought surely it must be somewhere I cannot find, or else Focus has ceased to exist as a newspaper.

When I came home I spent 3 months asking what had happened to Rwanda weekly or daily printed newspapers. On occasion I would see an old copy of New Times or Focus, but a timely print newspaper has been quite a challenge. I am cautious to listen to theories of paranoia, but seeing Ugandan daily newspapers on the streets of Kigali, but no English Rwandan newspaper fuels paranoia theories.

I asked business people and friends from church and government what was happening. The most reasonable theory I heard was that there must be management problems at New Times. Then I heard another surprising answer. Many don’t bother to read print editions of newspapers any more. We read on line news.

Only a few were whispering, “If you want to hide something from Rwandans write it down.” Hopefully, this modern proverb is only a reflection of Rwandan discreteness that rarely participates in written debate. However, without on line news the theories of Rwandan illiteracy gain credibility.

You captured my attention when I finally saw a copy of Focus that took on the question – What is going on with Rwanda’s print media? You had the courage to raise the question, and lay the problem squarely at the feet of professional incompetence. Without the question being addressed either the paranoid bloggers or booster outside journalists becomes Rwanda’s history makers. Rwanda needs her own home grown history makers.

At the time I was shopping my writing talents around, but growing increasingly uneasy with media outside of Rwanda leading in her analysis.

Nation Media’s on line Rwanda Review has not gotten off the ground as predicted, and Charles Onyango-Obbo has ceased responding to my e-mails.

Andrew Mwenda’s Independent has well captured the emotions and reasoning of many in Rwanda. His analysis is always insightful. However, he gets his facts wrong. There were 500 witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. We know those who saw Amin’s soldiers kill in Uganda. We sometimes wait hours to weeks for medical treatment at King Faisal Hospital instead of the 15 minutes of which Mr. Mwenda speaks. The Gaculiro 2020 Vision Estate now has a church and school in her midst and not a theatre. Mr. Mwenda is a good friend who has made me a better pastor, but I have yet to see him acknowledge when he gets his facts wrong.

Mr. Kanuma sometimes I think your analysis is overly harsh. However, I can find no fault with your extreme willingness to acknowledge when you did not get the facts right. I find the apologies which occasionally are part of Focus speak volumes for your credibility as a seeker of truth.

Though there have been other attempts at an English independent newspaper in Rwanda only you have kept my attention. A few expatriate friends of mine moan the demise of Charles Kabonero’s, Newsline. I started reading it when I first entered Rwanda. I knew few Rwanda details at the time and my discernment of his analysis was quite limited. However, all good men I have known have always nurtured and protected the beauty of their wife, daughters, and sisters. Mr. Kabonero’s fascination with publishing soft-core pornography left me with serious concerns about his motives. I have no grief that he is gone.

As I began writing again for Focus I decided to post my columns on my blog and facebook. In the process a not so surprising phenomena has happened. Rwandans are reading and commenting. Some of the comments are public. Some are private.

One of my Rwanda privileges has been to facilitate 200 Rwanda students to study in the US through the Presidential Scholars program. The US Embassy tells us that there are at least 800 Rwandans studying in the US. I have heard estimates of between 3,000 and 10,000 of Rwanda’s brightest studying outside of Rwanda. I believe this generation of scholars will be the ones who take Rwanda’s national vision to a new level of excellence. These young minds read on line. Without Focus being on line they are unable to read Rwandan analysis of Rwanda. I believe their desire for an on line independent Rwandan newspaper should be heard.

Lastly, I believe Rwanda’s future will be discovered in three independent institutions who model civil decency in dialogue and debate. These institutions are churches, schools, and media. The pioneers in the formation of these institutions will not become rich in Rwanda. An on line independent newspaper may not be financially profitable. However, it is essential for our future. Please get Focus back on line.

P.S. If you agree with my request to Mr. Kanuma please send him an e-mail at

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