Owners of Giant Chinese media houses and their Rwandan counterparts on Thursday, July 5, 2018, launched a media forum that will open space to tell the two countries’ stories.
China and Rwanda enjoy cordial relations for over 40 years now, but media owners from both countries agree that the stories written about them have been replicated mostly by western media.
At the launch of the first ever forum, media managers from both countries agreed on a need to share expertise and content that would change the two countries’ image.
“For instance, the common thing the world know about China is a country that produces fake products. But we have seen how Chinese media has invested in changing this trend. We need to invest in telling our own stories,” said Magnus Mazimpaka – editor in chief of Taarifa – an online news website in Rwanda.
The launch of the forum was organised by The State Council Information Office, China and by Xinhua News Agency, China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit the country on a two-day visit from July 22 to 23rd this year.
With the new media forum, according to John Mbanda – the Director in Charge of Media at Rwanda Governance Board, it will be the right time to tell so many untold stories to the world.
“The two countries have a long history of cooperation and friendship and they have many good stories which are still untold or are told on a biased way. There have been many misconceptions on the other side and it can be corrected with telling the truth of what Rwanda is and what China is within our own contexts,” Mbanda said at the forum that took place at Radisson Blu and Convention Centre.
“We need each other to know and to learn from each other,” Mbanda added.
Jiang Aimin the Director of China Radio International (Africa) said media houses of both countries have the responsibility to report the factual truth in order to keep away the biased reports mostly done by those with their own agenda to push.
“It’s only developing countries that can understand other developing countries. We have to sign agreements to be able to exchange content freely,” he said.
The new forum will operate as a bridge to exchange knowledge between Chinese and Rwandan journalists.
Fred Mwasa – editor at Kigali Today Ltd who also attended the forum, believes that Chinese media is more advanced compared to Rwandan media, but suggested that exchange of knowledge should be more practical and hands-on based.
“There’s a saying that instead of providing fish to someone, teach them how to fish for themselves. I think we need to see our local journalists working in newsrooms in China,” he said.
The delegation of State Council Information Office, China was led by Vice Minister Guo Weimin.
Minister Weimin pledged his support towards strengthening China-Rwanda media relations.
“We should deepen exchanges and cooperation between our media houses. I think we can build a mechanism to get it institutionalized,” he said.
Through the forum, journalists from Rwanda will be going to China and their counterparts will be coming to Rwanda to exchange knowledge.
Meanwhile, ahead of President XI visit to Rwanda, a series of Chinese community activities including donation of scholastic materials have been organised as well as events to showcase both countries’ cultures. There will also be a Chinese film festival and photo exhibition among other packages.