Monthly Archives: March 2012

Kony 2012: have I become an Uncle Tom?


The first time I learnt about Kony was through a special feature in the daily Nation sometime in 2008. The journalist went to town on the nutjob, calling him a megalomaniac that needs to be stopped in his tracks before he goes further in creating his demonic little empire.

Fast foward to 2012 and the internet pseudo-intellectuals are practically foaming at the mouth to criticize that video released by the slick well-meaning folk over at Invisible Children, who decided that the world will certainly end for Kony and his insane, drug fuelled, machete wielding ‘rebel group’ this year.

I have to be honest, I found most of the video rather uncomfortable to watch. The whole narrative of his son’s birth had a great message: we don’t choose where we are born, but we have the same rights as human beings was spot on. But, did it have to take so long? And the little montage at the end of all their awesome rallies and protests across the country set to rock music.? I was glancing behind my shoulder to make sure no-one was watching me….

Tasteful as ever

But I think that maybe the residents of the internet have become trigger happy. It’s cool to shoot down anything that becomes too popular, and ironically, shut down new solutions and propose old ones like they are something new.

After watching the video, I looked around to see what the naysayers had to say. And that is when I started feeling like an Uncle Tom. On the surface, they all sound like intelligent, well thought out arguments. But I call bullshit.  Here is why:

  • where are the voices of the Ugandans?: Why can’t we have more African voices in the international media? Mmmhmm… Bono, Angelina, Maddona..what horrible, horrible human beings, exploiting African misery to look good. Look, the world is an unfair place. Some kids are more popular than others. We know that Africans are not helpless. The Ugandans know that they have their own heroes: I tried Google to find some names I could use as an example, but of course nothing came up. Same thing with when we had the famine situation. No way in hell did anyone cover ‘Kenyans for Kenyans’ and those farmers who sent their surplus supplies to NEP. So…maybe some smart lobbyist somewhere could harness the power of these disaster loving bleeding heart celebrities instead of moaning about misrepresentation?
  • The war is complex: In fact, taking Kony down won’t change anything because others will replace him: Well…well…well…so since the war is so complex, should we then sit back, throw our hands up in the air and wait for salvation from our Lord Jesus and saviour?
  • No….what we need is governance and a way to end corruption: Hey Africans, you hear that? Your have problems because you are corrupt. We have found the magic bullet to all our problems! Thank you, well meaning internet trolls!
  • Why is he spending so much money looking like the Great White Hope coming to save the little savages? Why can’t they use more money to build stuff in Uganda?: They never really claimed to be an aid organisation (and we know what a GREAT success story that was!). The guy is a lobbyist. Lobbyists get their work done by irritating as many policy makers as possible in order to get the changes they want seen. Lobbyists don’t build toilets. They make noise.
  • LOLZ, anyone?

  • OIL!! It’s a conspiracy to invade Uganda and take all the OIL!!!: this is the most tempting one of all. But, do they really? If we want to rely on rumours, we can look no further than the fact that ‘closed’ deals are already being made…and everyone is holding their breath, hoping that things don’t go batshit crazy as soon as the pumps start working.

As a marketing campaign, this one set the new standards. I fear what will come next. I hope that his intentions are good. And I’m sorry that for years to come, Ugandans will be asked what it was like being a child soldier.

But the film also got people talking and researching on the truth and discussing solutions. Hopefully an indication that global citizenship is a possibility. And that  you can get your voice heard by the people in power.

I truly hope that we stop parroting the same tired nonsense, imagining ourselves as some cynical, intelligent warrior race responsible for truth and enlightenment on the internet. Where, obviously, your opinion counts for absolutely nothing.

Here is one other person who sort of agrees with me.

 

Chuckle chuckle

Chuckle chuckle

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Amsterdam (aka Pulling a Wayward Foe)


First off, I would like to say that smoking weed is a rather dumb thing to do. I know many people do not agree with me, but to be honest, the only good thing marijuana is for is to sit in a daze listening to hypnotic beats or watching reruns of Family Guy. (What I’m subtly trying to say here is that I do not smoke bhang, okay?)

Back to the story.

Pulling a ‘wayward foe‘ is a term I coined in honour of my dear friend and fellow blogger who shall remained unamed. It basically means planning a journey and then going out of your way to sabotage yourself.

It all started on Friday. I booked my  Saturday, 8.00am return ticket to Amsterdam where I was going to meet my fellow AIESECers and hopefully battle the throng of tourists and junkies in Amsterdam to ‘paint the town red’ (which is impossible, because you can’t show that city anything it hasn’t seen and ten times worse.)

So naturally, I decided that I would set my alarm for seven am and then go out and party until six o’clock in the morning with my insane housemates. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

I woke up the next day at midday. My phone was dead. I had missed my train and I had a touch of the ‘wine flu.’ So I went back to sleep and woke up again at 5.00pm. I jumped out of bed, took a shower and went to the station. Fortunately for me, I had an open ticket and so I could still get the train to Amsterdam.

Upon arrival, I discovered that even though my phone was on ‘roaming’, I could not make any phone calls or receive any texts. So after wandering around the station for half an hour, I finally bought a simcard and called my friends.

They were all epically stoned. The kind of high that people who’s systems aren’t used to anything stronger than a light beer and now coping with massive amounts of high grade, EU approved pure cannabis can get. Eventually, after three hours wandering in the city, taking the wrong bus, we were finally reunited.

If you have ever been with stoners, you know the hardest question for them is ‘What shall we do next?’ So after deliberating with my glassy eyed, giggling brethren, we decided to visit the Red light district.

My soul died a little bit that night. The problem is, there are thousands of tourists in Amsterdam. And they all want to go to see the city’s famous CSW’s. So I had the surreal experience of walking down the narrow streets in single file, looking at all these women posing behind glass windows with hundreds of leering men behind me and more in front of me. They knew we were tourists, and just looking out of curiosity. So what were we doing there? Somehow it seemed sleazier than actually trawling for hookers.

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Swans in the red light district (you can't take pictures of the girls, obviously)

One special house had lots of the girls with their doors open (I don’t know if these were the more pricey ones or the more skanky ones, I’ve never needed to make such a distinction before) and it had a weird smell- and we were really, really close to the girls. They could have touched us if they wanted. Or the other way round. One girl pushed my female friend and screamed at her,

what are you doing here? do you also want to get your #*#$ satisfied?

I felt like I was in 18th century Amsterdam, with all the drunk, drooling men and semi-nude girls posing suggestively in their little glass cages. It was embarrassing and sad.

I hear that the only thing sadder than paying for sex is to attend a ‘live sex show’. (We received several offers for a group discount but we decided we did not want to bond in that way.)

After that, the stoners were hungry. So as we were walking back to an undecided destination (still could not answer the question, ‘what do we do next?), one would pop into a fast food joint and get something to eat. Because we were eight people, we effectively ‘toured’ Amsterdam’s fast food joints until about 1.00am.

Finally, after queuing outside a small club for half an hour, we were finally granted entry to push and shove other sweaty bodies and spill our drinks on each other.

And that, my dear friends, is how I spent Saturday night in Amsterdam, stone cold sober, surrounded by drunk tourists and pushy bouncers. And you know what?

It was the best time of my life. (so far this year)

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Your very own starter kit

Ps: Amsterdam is a beautiful city, with an unusually high number of drunk tourists. it is also the first time I looked at a city and thought, ‘damn, this country is wealthy.’

I leave you with this picture of a ship that was commissioned by the city to keep the unemployed masses occupied. (Kazi kwa vijana of sorts?)

A ship just for the sake of it

A ship just for the sake of it