Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Confessional | François Bugingo

If Canadian journalism crowned its « it »-boy, it would most certainly be Francois Bugingo. Simply smart, the much sought-after journalist exudes contagious passion for his subjects & guests and listening to him is like taking a Masters' class in geopolitics. All that, in his early thirties. Get over being impressed and get ready to learn.

Is it harder to prepare to interview someone or to prepare to enter The Confessional?

With certainty, the Confessionnal.

You host a radio-show on Radio-Canada and write for L'Actualité . Those are two quite serious Institutions and quite a tall order for any thirty-something.
Do you sometimes pinch yourself in the morning? Born in a City located in the heart of Congo’s equatorial forest, the biggest miracle is not that I hold prestigious & high profiled positions but rather that I’m alive. For that, yes, I do pinch myself every morning.

You lead a chapter of the very necessary "Reporters Without Borders" for many years. Were you floored when you learned the Olympic Games were awarded to China? No treason surprises me anymore. Still, I was devastated to see the cowardliness with which the World let slip away the golden opportunity to force China to improve its human rights. Not in order to satisfy the West but rather for the benefit of the thousands of Chinese who are wasting away in jails or were killed for having defended articles of the Universal Charter of Human Rights. China, by the way, has since ratified that Charter.

There are images of news stories that stick with you forever: Magic Johnson announcing he had HIV, the Duvaliers fleeing in their BMW or Dan Rather breaking down on Letterman after 9/11. Are there images that have had an impact on you? In 1985, little Omayra Sanchez dying live in front of cameras after a Colombia landslide, a young baby grasping for air in south Sudan dying of hunger. And of course, Rwandan genocide: my homeland genocide.

I think journalists are Rock Stars with notepads. Is there a lot of Sex, Drugs and Rock n' Roll in the Newsroom? Occasionally sex and drugs not in newsrooms but in field missions. And forget rock n' roll, Journalists are the worst dancers.

There's a Facebook Group in your honour, created by cyber-groupies. Are you flattered or rather on the verge of requesting a restraining order? I’m not a fan of Facebook and thus not aware of these Groups. Although flattered, I won’t go check them out to make sure my head won’t inflate.

Name your favourite line from a movie, book, song or famous speech. “Some people see things as they are and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not.”

I find deplorable the ascension of "Info-tainment" in television newscasts. Either report on Baghdad or on Beyoncé - not both. What is your prediction for the future of televised newscasts?
We're in transition toward “human-tainment” and that would be good for our future.

Name the best news blog in France, in the United States and in Canada.



If you could host a TV show (past or present) which one would it be?

Two French shows: 100 minutes pour comprendre & Tout le monde en parle; and in the U.S. Anderson Cooper's 360 on CNN`.

Name two books that should be mandatory in schools all over the world.

Les misérables by Victor Hugo

Les damnés de la terre by Frantz Fanon

Name three songs that should be in every I-Pod ever sold.

Aguas de marços, Tom Jobim & Elis Regina

Maurice Ravel’s Bolero

Tears in heaven, Eric Clapton

Name an actress, politician, author or musician that you would be mesmerized to interview
. I have already met Mandela and Dalaï Lama. Few remain: Meryl Streep, Osama Bin Laden, and my little friend Ali if he made it in Darfur.

Do you feel the West's efforts in Africa are adequate even if not sufficient?
What should we really be doing?

Not at all. I think the West looks at AFrica not with honesty but with guilt. Consequently, it’s afraid to say what it really should: “Wake up Africans! Africa’s worse enemies are Africans: tyrannical and corrupted Leaders.

In an ultimate dinner party, who would be your fantasy guests (dead or alive) and what's on the menu? Two geniuses: Jesus Christ and Victor Hugo. On the menu: Indian chicken madras with Burundi banana wine.

Once you get to Heaven, what would you like the Almighty to tell you?

“I once said: "to whom much is given, much is required". I’m glad you kept that in mind”.

When will I see you next?

How about tonight?

Read him in: L’Actualité (

Listen to him: Daily on Radio-Canada’s Sans Détour (95.1FM &

Photo from Télé-Québec.


Anonymous said...

Another great one, Martine.
I didn't know of Francois and I will now try to catch his show online.

Anonymous said...

It's funny the image of the Duvaliers fleeing in their BMW is the one you would remember instead of the one of starving children.

Martine | Le Groupe Milagro said...

It doesn't have to be one image over another. The one of starving children in Haiti is unfortunately a permanent one as it is much more than an image: it's a reality. The Duvaliers fleeing in their BMW had a lasting effect because first, it was the beginning of paparazzi reporting meets news. Second, it was the end of a sad era and third, as a 13-year-old then, I couldn't help to think "Ok. What now?". And, over twenty years later, I ask myself the same question. Still, I'm glad you brought it up.

Anonymous said...

More please More!!

Martine, my intellectual energy elevates to the roof with each "The Confessionnal". It is simply a human experience. Thank you.

I have heard of Francois and listened to him on R-RD, it was nice to hear him on a personal level.

Sympa ce Francois! A loyal fan is born.


Martine | Le Groupe Milagro said...

Many thanks Anonymous!
I'm telling you, François is a rare breed and if we're lucky, we will see more of him for decades to come.

As for The Confessional, I do it as a curious fan and I'm very reconnaissante to those who indulge me.

Stay tuned!