Monday, March 26, 2012
20 years too late
Uganda's in the news again, due to the extraordinary reaction to Invisible Children's You Tube video, Kony 2012. Most of the people I know in Uganda are bewildered. Northern Uganda has been more or less peaceful for the last 10 years, since Joseph Kony's rag-tag band of thugs disappeared into across the Ugandan borders into central Africa, so why now?
I thought Kony 2012 was pretty awful. Voyeuristic and mawkish by turns, tasteless in its use of Jason Russell's son as a holy innocent, and, quite frankly, another patronising example of the way in which Europe and America love to portray Africa as Conrad's Heart of Darkness, except with black Kony replacing white Kurtz as "the worst". Let's be honest here. To elevate Kony to the evil stature of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot is absurd. Kony was a failed local political leader who, unwilling to admit defeat, took to the bush with a group of poorly-educated supporters (which, in an insult to armies everywhere, he called the Lord's Resistance Army). He then began a lengthy sequence of violent crimes in Northern Uganda, including murder, rape, and child abduction. His activities destabilized and impoverished the region. A terrorist without any coherent agenda, yes. A thug, yes. A pyschopath, probably. But a systematic mass murderer like Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot, definitely not.
Having said all that, if this video accelerates the capture and trial of criminal Kony, then it will have achieved something that, to their enduring shame, the international community, the African Union and national governments have failed to do for the past 20 years or more. 20 years too late for a lost generation in Northern Uganda.