Betty always talks about her love for her late husband Allen in the present tense. Spontaneous dancing, and backyard barbeques are some of the memories she cherishes the most.
The media frenzy stirred up by the KONY 2012 campaign brought worldwide awareness to war criminal Joseph Kony, the head of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). While the majority of people enthusiastically follows this laudable cause, others have voiced concern that beneath it may lie a carefully thought out agenda that uses reverse psychology to justify a military intervention in Uganda.
Kony definitely deserves both the demonization that he gets and punishment for his crimes against humanity, but stopping one bad guy is not going to make the underlying causes of civil conflict magically disappear — in the worst case scenario, he’ll simply be replaced by another bad guy. Critics such as The Vigilant Citizen elaborate on the causes of uproar in many African countries, which in fact have more to do with the consequences of colonialism than with the actions of Kony per se.
Referring to Keen (2007) and Rieff's (2003) reasoning, the public needs to keep in mind that governments oftentimes engage in military intervention disguised as humanitarian response to gain access or control over natural resources or geographically strategic areas. Uganda has substantial natural resources, including sizable mineral deposits of copper and cobalt, and largely untapped reserves of both crude oil and natural gas. The 2006 CARMA report has shown that crisis and response have been emphasised where the potential political and economic gains from a crisis were more strategic (e.g. the chance to promote stability within, and better relations with, affected regions — usually trading partners in terms of oil and arms). Maybe in this particular case it’s just a coincidence…
This post is neither endorsing nor dismissing the KONY 2012 campaign, it’s simply meant as a reminder to practice independent thinking. Rather than blindly following a social movement or an elite’s agenda, make it a habit to question conventional wisdom, especially that which you get from the media. Truth is more than just one side of the story; it’s worthwhile to get your information from multiple sources. Last but not least, don’t let your view of Africa get skewed by the media, it’s not all barbaric conflict and starving children.
[see picture of Kampala, Uganda]