« Darbatani jinfu hinqabatani.»
« After you have thrown the spear, you cannot catch hold of its end. »
« Une fois qu’une lance est lancée, on ne peut plus en attraper le bout.» (Proverbe oromo, Ethiopie)
Meaning: Once something is done. It is better to think before acting., one cannot undo it, though one may regret having done it. »
Source : Diane Steward Wisdom from Africa : A Collection of African Proverbs. Cape Town : Struit Publishers, 2005. p. 158.
Journalism is a noble profession. It renders an invaluable service to humanity. Journalists deserve our respect on account of the risks they undertake. Many of them have been threatened, terrorized, vilified, humiliated, tortured, imprisoned, kidnapped, and killed. Their desire to inform is so strong that they will not let anything discourage them. The rest of humanity should not only welcome such courage, but also provide them with all the necessary support.
However, there are some ‘false journalists’ who, in contempt of journalistic ethics, work to incite violence. For example, the anti-Balaka group in Central African Republic is represented by many in the media as a Christian militia despite the protests from Christian leaders of this country.
Moreover, pictures of these militias ostensibly display many amulets. This shows that they hold to non-Christian beliefs; also, their actions clearly do not reflect the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, in the midst of erroneous reports, that reality is distorted. Worse, this misinformation adds fuel to the flame that burns a nation deeply wounded by pitting Christians against Muslims. The international community must take this situation seriously as this may lead to genocide.
The same is true for other cases of misinformation around the world. It is high time that we take into account the words of Oromo wisdom: « once a spear is launched, you can no longer catch the front-end. » Indeed, one can master a spear in his possession but once it is propelled, it is out of control. A mature reflection is needed before speaking or writing. In this sense, the Oromo wisdom joined biblical wisdom for it is written in Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (NIV). Furthermore, it is written in Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” James 3:1-18 states the same thing.
The point is, the tongue is as powerful as a sword. It is able to hurt or heal, to kill or to give life. Depending on how we use them, the words we speak can have huge consequences, hence the importance of thinking deeply before saying anything. Fortunately, as regards speech or writing, there is always a possibility to limit the damage in correcting their trajectory when this is done promptly. We hope that conscientious women and men in the media will start the hard work of restoring truth in Central Africa and elsewhere. Above all, never forget that every human stands to win when an instrument of peace and reconciliation, and to cause trouble and rifts between communities; to do otherwise is to saw off the bench on which you sit.
© Copyright by Moussa Bongoyok, 2014