The recent Invisible Children YouTube Video has gone viral and millions have now seen again the atrocities caused by Joseph Kony in the War in Northern Uganda. The video is cleverly put together by very clever people and I am glad that they have raised our consciousness again of what happened. An individual story like Jacob’s could be recounted too by the members of our Butterfly North Project, all of whom suffered during the war. Our Project Director, Grace Ayaa, saved hundreds of children from becoming child soldiers (or worse) during this conflict and I am proud that she helps us daily institute a chance of a better future for the children and families in Northern Uganda.
While I can see how a campaign such as this is useful in our Facebook world – a campaign that galvanises youth to take an interest in the world outside their own direct experience – I am also heartened by the outpouring of concern for others that is really nothing to do with Facebook, Invisible Children or our modern society. This is not the insular thinking of bank bailouts, which just focuses around what we can achieve for ourselves, it is about wanting a better world, achieved by loosing the bonds of nationhood and treating others from whatever nation as equals and, if we are better off than they, seeing how we can prove that we believe in their equality.
With regard to Northern Uganda, there are countless organisations working to support the people of Uganda – still not enough, but there are many. However, I would like to see a more coordinated approach, where organisations help each other to achieve the joint aim of bringing prosperity to Northern Uganda. We will all have a lot to learn from each other and jointly I believe we can achieve much more than the slow progress being made not just in Uganda, but in every poverty-stricken area around the world.
Finally, I have a concern. Joseph Kony is an Acholi, who impacted negatively the lives of tens of thousands and I agree that he should be brought to justice. While probably capable of doing work in this area, Invisible Children have little track record in development work and their workforce and strategists are doing what they know best – marketing. However, with this amazing abaility to create awareness, I believe that they have a responsibility to maximise the benefit to people living in Northern Uganda and I fear that millions will be spent bringing a war criminal to justice whose time has passed. Find him with the millions of dollars of people concerned about people in Northern Uganda, but the poverty will continue and not one single life will be changed. At worst, another crazy will replace him.
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