JOHANNESBURG — Her first stories on the 1994 Rwandan genocide weren’t published. Her editor couldn’t believe them. No one could.

A church filled with 1,300 bodies yet far from the killings in the capital, Kigali, reported by other news outlets? A mass grave with 500 dead and a few survivors crawling out?

Yet Sheila Kawamara-Mishambi, a reporter for the New Vision newspaper in neighboring Uganda, was the first correspondent to expose the nationwide dimensions of the horror. Her work is a highlight of the new book “African Muckraking: 75 Years of Investigative Journalism from Africa.”

“She really persuaded her editor to send her back into Rwanda with a photographer,” Anya Schiffrin, the Columbia University professor who edited the collection, said in an interview. “What was so interesting about researching this book was finding so many stories of investigative journalism from Africa.”

The book, an offshoot of Schiffrin’s 2014 work “Global Muckraking: 100 Years of Investigative Journalism From Around the World,” also explores persecuted albinos in Tanzania, the slain anti-corruption sleuth Carlos Cardoso in Mozambique and the death squads of apartheid-era South Africa.

The new book’s release ties in with the 10th Global Investigative Journalism Conference this week in Johannesburg.

Keynote speakers include Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Zimbabwean media lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa. The event also comes days after South Africa’s intelligence service laid charges against Jacques Pauw, author of “The President’s Keepers,” a look at alleged corruption under President Jacob Zuma that quickly has become a best-seller.

“If it wasn’t for investigative journalism, we would be so in the dark in our country at this moment,” said Ferial Haffajee, editor-at-large of Huffington Post South Africa.

Author photo
COLIN McCLELLAND
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