To say that I underestimated the response my last post would generate would be, fittingly, an understatement. The most views any other page on our humble blog has received (excepting the home page, of course) is 478. My post about Invisible Children’s “Kony 2012” campaign already has 3,294 views at the time of my writing.
That’s a far cry from how many views IC’s 30-minute video got in its first few days, but apparently, a significant number of people all over the world* saw that video, were a bit sceptical, and wanted another, less sensationalised perspective on the issue.
I’ve been encourage by the many comments (both those that agree and disagree with me!) on this blog and on the Facebook pages of all the friends (alas, I was unable to view the comments on the pages of friends of friends) who shared the link. Because a lively discussion has begun, I hope to further this conversation with a few more thoughts.
First of all, I notice that a lot of the disagreements and critiques seem to be coming from other Americans. I don’t want this to be just another discussion about Africa that’s just between Westerners, without any African voices. I therefore recommend this sample of African responses collected by AfriPOP, which features many Ugandans. I don’t necessarily agree with some of the comments there, but I think African voices need to be heard in this ‘debate.’
Next, many of the comments which take issue with my argument say something along the lines of “Yeah, you make some good points, and there are problems with the video, but we need to DO SOMETHING!”
As I’ve said on this blog previously, I’m always encouraged when Americans take a humanitarian interest in the outside world, especially Africa, so I DO NOT want to discourage anyone’s passion for advocacy, even if it’s not yet well-informed. Rather, I just want to supply that missing information, and if possible, channel that passion toward efforts that seem more pressing and likely to be effective.
So, if you feel compelled to do something, consider giving to local, community-led organisations in northern Uganda that are working to address the psychosocial and economic needs of former child soldiers and families that are still feeling the effects of a conflict that ended 6 years ago. There are several worthy NGOs in this regard, but a friend with whom Faith studied abroad at Uganda Christian University recommends Concerned Parents Association. That organisation was started by parents in northern Uganda, and is addressing many of the post-conflict needs there. I can assure you that reconciliation, integrated basic education for affected children and income-generating skills will have a much bigger impact than some Americans killing Joseph Kony in the jungles of Congo-Kinshasa.