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kony. rhymes with sony.

i've tried to stay out of it, because i feel like not adding to the debate will better separate me from those in the debate. but today, for some unknown reason, i felt the need to at least mention the kony2012 debĂ cle (said with the most frenchy accent you can muster).

only a few people know how much of an interest in african politics i have taken over the last five years. but i guess you guys all know too now.

back in 2007, living in a suburb of london that has a high population of the african diaspora, it was pointed out to me that i knew nothing about the rwandan genocide, something that killed almost a million people. that's shocking.

i borrowed a book from a friend and read the first-hand account of a young tutsi woman who hid in a hutu minister's bathroom for seven months as the rest of her countrymen and women were systematically killed and raped by hutus and tutsis alike. it was a fucking mess and it was heart wrenching.

and, as a white girl from the 'burbs of melbourne, it made me realise that i actually know fuck all about fuck all.

so i stepped up my focus on world politics. keeping a particular an eye on africa.

since then,  i have researched the disaster that is the stateless somalian war/famine/war and the ongoing battles of mogadishu and suicide blasts

i continue to read about the the sudanese civil war, south sudan's independence, the ongoing torture and corruption in khartoum and the genocide in darfur.

i'm keeping an eye on the withdrawl of shell from the niger delta, the big payout and watching the incitement of sectarian violence between christians in power and islamist rebels boko haram (let's keep the people occupied while we fleece them of their resources).

i did clicktivate for uganda to reverse its barbaric treatment (ie torture) of gay and lesbian ugandan adults and was fucking relieved that it seemed to have made a difference a couple of years ago (i'm not against the weight of taking action by clicking an email signature).

i'm very proud of senegal's recent committment to democracy. at all costs. their clear message to abdoulaye wade and his wacky dictator-esque consitutional changes have kept them at the forefront of political stability in africa, a continent that is still wrestling with post-colonialism.

i know the extent of AIDS/HIV infection and death rates in southern african (average of 15% adult populations across the region are infected with HIV. 15%!!) and am particularly aware of the difference between the access to treatment here and there.

i have a pretty good sense of african geography (well, i know the difference between countries in east and west, north and south and central and the congo) and i can even name capital cities in a fair few key african states.

i'm not saying all those things to show off, because really, it's not much*. but i really try to understand, i take the time to educate myself. and even then i know that i have no fucking idea what it's like.

which is my point.

unsurprisingly, i don't think i can say this about the stack of peeps sharing the Invisible Children garbage over the last couple of weeks.

i'm not even going to really talk about what's in the video, and the 'issue' behind the 'campaign'**. but i doubt that most people who shared that video have a clear idea how it fits into the context of uganda, african politics, their dictatorships, who the fuck the LRA actually are and where their danger lies (most recently seen in sudan ahead of south sudan's birth as a nation in 2011).

they have no fucking idea.
and even worse, they have no idea that they have no fucking idea.
oh, and the call to arms by a white guy about the dangers of a black guy in a country they'd never sought to enquire about before? i mean, really.

please. look up the word colonialism and then tell me what you really think about joseph kony.

we're all so fucking desperate to be part of something meaningful, without doing anything to actually be part of something meaningful.
how about educating ourselves for a start?

how about taking a little bit of time to cultivate some understanding? how about accepting that perhaps you know nothing about the world and that's as equal a crime as committing children to guns and genocide. ignorance is dangerous.

so you want to make a difference in african children's lives?
find out about them first, for scooby's sake.

a few links
i know that the heady high of participating in viral activism might have left you dregged on the couch. but in case you'd like to actually know and care, here are some of the things i have read.
which not all that much, even:

africa, general: 
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/ ***

the kony debate: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/spotlight/konydebate/
uganda: http://www.aljazeera.com/category/country/uganda
sudan: http://www.aljazeera.com/category/country/sudan
somalia: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14094503

a few books:
what is the what by valentino achak 'dachi' deng (transliterated by david eggers) - sudanese civil war
left to tell by immaculee ilibagiza - rwandan genocide
the heart of darkness by joseph conrad  - the colonisation of africa in the 19th century

oh, and talk to africans. you know, about what's happening in their home countries. they are actually politically aware and quite like to talk about it.

*although it's pretty good for an australian white girl, so i've been told.
**UPDATE: this is what prosecution for using child soldiers looks like with due process.
*** i know, it's just wikipedia and al jazeera, but that's what i'm trying to highlight. it doesn't take a masters degree to get a bit of a jist of how it all fits together.


At 17 March, 2012 22:14, Blogger ronnie said...

thanks for a rippa post. I've only been vaguely aware of the great Kony viralisation.... enough to give it a big sidestep (mostly for the reasons you've highlighted.... I knew I knew little to put anything I might see into context.... and less to be able to make an informed move forward.)

I live a long way from anywhere - yet in the 1970s as a kidlet still in single figures I had a surprisingly solid understanding of contemporary politics and conditions Uganda and South Africa - that's because we had two lovely gentlemen from those nations come to stay with us.

Gideon was an agricultural academic from South Africa - he was also black and his explanation of Apartheid made a lasting impression.

John was a highly educated African from Uganda - he was able to articulate his concerns about the rise to power of Idi Amin (which was happening during John's visit to Australia).... John wrote to us for a couple of years - each time his situation became increasingly more tenuous. Then the letters stopped and from his warnings, we knew what that meant.

Since that brief moment's interaction I have been mindful of how I cannot know anything much about issues that I don't have a first-hand knowledge of or connection to. And without knowledge I really shouldn't buy into a debate.


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