As the constant barrage of links on Facebook and news alerts keep reminding me, Northern Uganda is currently in the news in a big way as a result of the Kony 2012 campaign by Invisible Children. Many people more experienced and learned than me have written responses to this video, mostly expressing the view that, while well-intentioned, the video is at best inaccurate and misleading, and at worst a reiteration of the
bollocks misguided belief that the only thing standing between Northern Uganda and hell is a small group of well-heeled young social media acolytes from the States. Here are some links to some of those articles, as well as an interview with one of the children featured in the film.
I have my own issues with the film, chief among them the idea that Invisible Children advocates a military solution to the conflict despite the repeated proof that every time Kony is attacked abductees get killed and despite the repeated calls by both the LRA and Acholi elders (and a whole heap of other people) for peace talks. However, as the links above show, there are already a whole chorus of voices explaining why the video is misleading.
I am not a researcher, an academic or a very qualified journalist, but I’ve spent longer in Northern Uganda than many of the people reposting this video, so I thought I’d share some of my photos from the time I spent working there (I was working for the Northern Uganda Transition Initiative, a USAID programme which focused on rebuilding the north AFTER the war. After. As in, the war is over in Northern Uganda). So please look at the following images and see the contrast between the war days and the present, and when you’re done maybe share this with anybody who believes a $30 action pack will save Africa.
I think awareness of the Northern Ugandan conflict is a good thing. However my experience of the region is that people need jobs and infrastructure, not pity and Facebook links. If you wish to donate, I would presonally suggest give to organisations who use over 37.14% (their figure, some put it at 31%) of donations on actual programs rather than salaries, travel and film production.