Helen Kezie-Nwoha, Programme Manager, Isis-WICCE
The current global debate on the right to represent and the appropriateness of the ‘Kony 2012’ campaign has received both praises and condemnation. The originator of the campaign has acknowledged that the over-simplification of the issues was a strategy to draw attention of a wider group to the campaign. These different positions and insensitivities have raised concerns about who has the right and is best positioned to represent Africa, particularly on issues that affect Africans the most. This requires that some facts are set straight from those living and working in the situation. The film seems to portray that the Kony war in northern Uganda is still raging and the world needs to come and help, otherwise all the children in Uganda will become “invisible”.
The LRA attacks in northern Uganda ended in 2006, we are aware that Kony and the LRA are currently in the Central African Republic and other countries bordering Uganda including South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo where abduction of children is taking place.
Uganda has moved forward since 2006 and has developed various post conflict reconstruction programmes for northern Uganda. Some of the structures have been reconstructed such as schools, hospitals and roads. While the women’s movement have concerns over the level of involvement of women and their needs in these processes, the government must be commended for its openness receive inputs from other stakeholders to improve on the gender responsiveness of the programmes.
The current issues ravaging the north are the poor infrastructures and different ailments that have come up as a result of the long period of war that led to the neglect of health facilities. For example there is now the nodding syndrome that is affecting children; any person of good would intervene in this area to help these children. There are also social issues that have not been addressed that need immediate attention such as the thousands of women and young girls that were raped and have not received medical care. There are also the formerly abducted children who have returned from captivity and have not been fully reintegrated into the communities. These issues have not been profiled but they are the real issues on the ground. The politics of representing others has caused more harm than good from the experiences around the globe. Therefore Kony 2012 is a misrepresentation of the concerns and needs of the people of northern Uganda at this material time. It does not only add to the trauma, it brings out issues that do not relate to their present lives. A campaign that includes the perspective of the people and is locally generated would be more useful.
Therefore, our perspective is clear; the children of northern Uganda are safe from Kony. Many stakeholders have contributed to the progress made thus far, no one individual or organization can claim to be the saviour of the north as the film seems to depict. The support that is needed is to maintain peace in the north and contribute towards the reconstruction. Therefore the campaign being suggested should be against Kony atrocities in Central African Republic and South Sudan.