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Something bad is happening in Burundi

21 December 2015

Something bad is happening in Burundi. I learnt this from Tweets on Twitter, and from things friends post on Facebook.

Burundi1Yesterday I bought a Sunday newspaper, City Press, in the hope of learning something about what was going on. but they thought it was more important to tell me What celebs want for Christmas | City Press. From the picture people posted on Facebook, it looks like a refugee problem is developing there that is as bad as that in Syria.

Of course one never knows with pictures like that on Facebook. For all I know it could have been taken 20 years ago in Rwanda, but by all accounts something bad is happening there, and whatever it is, the media are not telling us. For City Press it is far more important that we should read about Bonang, Pearl, in Revlon row. I think yesterday was the last time I’ll ever buy it.

I switched from the Sunday Independent to City Press because the former’s political reporting was all about personalities, and said nothing about policies. It was all about political infighting and jockeying for power among politicians, but said nothing about what those politicians actually stood for. It treated politics as a popularity contest, with the politicians as just another bunch of celebs, so that what they wanted for Christmas was more important than their principles or policies, if any. Now City Press seems to have deteriorated to the same level.

Perhaps I’ll go back to reading the Sunday Times.

I stopped buying the Sunday Times over 30 years ago, when they devoted three full pages to Sol Kerzner’s birthday party. But yesterday someone posted a link to a Sunday Times article that impressed me – SUNDAY TIMES – Behind Zuma’s U-turn: ‘SA will go bust’:

In those three days Zuma appeared to have lost his grip on the party and the country, with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa angrily telling his staff that he had nothing to do with Nene’s removal.

It has now transpired that, between Friday and Sunday evening, Zuma’s colleagues at Luthuli House took charge in a bid to avert the consequences of the worst political decision since the recall of former president Thabo Mbeki from office.

Even Zuma’s erstwhile comrades in the SACP and Cosatu turned on him, telling the president at a meeting held at his official residence, Mahlamba Ndlopfu, late that Friday that he would be “on your own” if he did not remove Van Rooyen.

One thing that interested me was that the article seemed to provide confirmation that what I thought might have happened had actually happened. That doesn’t count for much, really — reading news that conforms to my preconceptions and prejudices could just be reinforcing my delusions.

But something else impressed me too. As a language pedant, I was impressed that there was a journalist who knew the meaning of “transpire”. And if someone knows what “transpired” means, perhaps they also know what “refuted” and “suspects” mean. Just using those three words properly could take reporting to a whole new level of clarity and precision.

FlagBurundiBut having had my rant about journalism and the media, what about what is happening in Burundi?

Well I don’t know much about that, so I’d better get back to Twitter and Facebook, because they are for sure telling me more about it than City Press did. Revlon, and the people who sell the stuff that celebs want for Christmas, take paid advertisements in the media. Burundian refugees don’t. That’s capitalism for you.

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