When I was much younger, television was a real luxury, something for the wealthy members of society. When a TV set finally found its way to the sitting room of the house where I lived it was black and white and we had to use a car battery to watch it. All this scarcity made our appetite for the magic box grow in leaps and bounds.
For some reason now all the craving I had nurtured for television has diminished with age. However, I still find moment to steal a glance at the TV to see what it now has to offer. This past week something caught my eye as I watched Nairobi based Citizen TV.
Apparently the next season of the reality music show, Tusker Project Fame is around the corner. Actually today, the station aired highlights of the TPF4 as a preamble of the big show. The interesting bit about all this is that this time the competition will have contestants from Burundi.
This got me thinking about the big picture, why do we often talk about Somalia and South Sudan while we ignore our blood brother Burundi like the proverbial elephant in the house? Why should a competition that is East African in all ways go on for four seasons without a contestant from Burundi?
The closest that Burundi has come to being associated with Tusker Project Fame is the presence of Burundian crooner Kidum. This also reminded me of an exchange I had with a journalist friend of mine on how the media covers stories from different countries.
I challenged my friend to explain to me why for instance, we hardly get any coverage of Burundian events in our (Rwandan print media). His response was a simple, "there is not enough news from there." Anyone with minimum journalism training will tell you that there is no such a thing as "not enough news."
It seriously baffles me that even with the close linguistic ties between Rwanda and Burundi; media organisations do not see the importance of posting correspondents to Bujumbura for instance. And it is not just Rwandan papers that give our Burundian friends a cold treatment.
When Nation Media Group launched The East African newspaper around 1994, I gradually became an addict as I figured it was the one paper that would give me a complete picture of what was happening in the region. I was however disappointed years later, when I learnt that there was just one correspondent covering both Rwanda and Burundi based in Kigali.
A lot has changed with NMG going for a more robust presence in Kigali but the same cannot be said about Bujumbura. Bujumbura only seems to appear in our papers when there is an EAC summit. Once the summit is concluded we are back to news about Darfur, Somalia but nothing much from the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
Is it not interesting that one is more likely to get information about Burundi by listening to BBC's Great Lakes Service than by checking the local press? Why then should we continue complaining that the Western media (BBC for instance) does not report our (African) stories accurately when we ourselves are reluctant to report them.
There is a music programme on Citizen TV titled Mseto East Africa but it is not just the music from Burundi that is absent, even the flags on the logo are just four. Burundian crooner Kidum often appears because he is based in Nairobi. Even the sweet voiced Khadja Nin is never featured on a show that claims to be East African.
It is very commendable that the guys at East African Breweries have finally seen the need to include Burundi in this year's Tusker Project Fame to complete the East African picture. I understand that previous considerations have been driven by commercial interests and so I do not blame them that much.
I am however looking forward to this year's TPF as it will probably help us to know the views that other East Africans have about Burundi. Considering that English is not a national language in Burundi, Swahili will probably be used much more in this year's show.
I also look forward to a day when big media organisations as well as local ones employ permanent correspondents to cover news and events in Burundi, so that we do not have to rely on BBC or Reuters to learn about things that are just across the border.
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