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….
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.
- 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.