A newspaper's use of a file picture of children's corpses to illustrate a report on a new biography of President Paul Kagame is a disgrace, writes
The New Times in an editorial.
The image is not authentic, and feeds directly into negative stereotypes of Africa.  Rwanda needs positive images to take it forward.

The New Times writes in an editorial:

 A picture, they say can tell a thousand words. In the world of journalism in particular the newspaper industry, media practitioners make one hell of a killing just out of a well captured picture.

In Africa the picture that sells the most is that of starving skeletal bodies in war zones. In the western media, Africa will be portrayed through the lenses of children with severed limbs or pencil-thin malnourished children who portray the inhabitants of a country gripped by famine.

Photography of this kind is always an excellent means of portraying Africa as a continent bestowed with horror and indeed a continent enriched with political quandary.

Sadly, the temptation to tell Africa's story, is often riddled with the overriding desire to 'flavour' it with that sad stereotypical angle.

The target of which more often than not are western audiences, always in need of affirmation in the dichotomy between their peace and tranquility as compared to hungry suffering Africans.

Such images wet their appetites in their cause as saviours on the African continent, be it as human rights campaigners or charity organizations.

A dangerous dichotomy because however well Africans do and achieve much for themselves – there will always be images of littered bodies to remind them of their 'primitiveness.'

This is the same spirit with which we view the picture published in the Sunday Vision of June 14. How a noble idea of serializing Stephen Kinzer's book, A Thousand Hills, which profiles President Paul Kagame's life, goes terribly wrong.

A noble idea smeared by a malicious picture of children's corpses deliberately pulled out of old files that have nothing to do with Rwanda.

Firstly, the picture of the alleged dead children lying in Kibeho camp, in 1995, is not authentic, as evidenced by the lack of due accreditation. Any photo archives anywhere will confirm that the picture printed against this story was not taken in Kibeho.

Secondly, the caption was so misleading, derogatory and packed with sinister intentions as it tried to insinuate something that editors at Sunday Vision can only best explain. It beats all journalistic logic how a story that talks volumes about a man's heroic actions can only be reduced to amateurish by an imperfect accompanying picture.

Rwandans have strove to break from the depressing past to building a bright prosperous future, surely there are positive images to attest this.

* This editorial first appeared in The New Times on 16 June 2009.