Letter: Life, death and news value

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KEN WIWA'S eloquent piece on the horrifying events at Bwindi ("The darkness we see in Africa lives deep within our hearts", 7 March) is that rare commentary which serves to jolt some of us into a realisation that we are none of us bystanders. For all the appalling injustice of the massacre of innocent travellers contributing to the faltering economies of the Rift Valley in Africa, they may not expect any more safety than the generations of innocent inhabitants who have been massacred in that area since 1959.

It is possibly surprising that more foreigners have not died grisly deaths in that part of Africa these past 40 years. It is also invidious to juxtapose the news value of 10 Britons with that of 10,000 Africans. In 1972, when up to a quarter of a million Burundi Hutus were butchered in swift reprisal for the massacre of some 5,000 innocent Tutsi, British news coverage was starkly modest, especially in the context of the column inches devoted to the relatively "few" barbaric killings in Northern Ireland. Perhaps darkness also shrouds our senses.


London SW6