By Alexis Sinduhije
Alexis Sinduhije, fall 1997 fellow, writes about the harrowing experience of practicing journalism in central Africa during the Rwandan Genocide. From 1993 to 1997, Sinduhije covered the violence around him, searching for ways that journalism could help stem the bloodshed, while striving to report the news objectively – even after the murder of his own relatives. Eventually, with the help of a young American, who had come to Africa to help build a new kind of “public media,” Sinduhije and others created Studio Ijambo, a new regional radio service. Crucially, they focused on recreating for their listeners the human dimensions of the consequences of civil war. The voices broadcast were those of innocent civilians, who spoke simply of their suffering, of their hopes for peace, and the chance to return to their homes. As listenership grew, so did Studio Ijambo’s reputation for integrity and fairness. For their efforts, several of Alexis’s fellow journalists were murdered; Alexis himself fled into exile for a time. But Studio Ijambo never stopped broadcasting—and over time, it acquired an international reputation, providing coverage for the BBC, Voice of America, and others.