As I was musing about the issue of “child soldiers” in the Angolan context – first here some weeks ago and here in the last few days – I was totally unaware of the global phenomenon the video below by charity Invisible Children (IC) on Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda has recently become, first on the social media and then on mainstream media, rising up the the American Congress and the Internacional Criminal Court.
I heard about it for the first time yesterday on this programme at BBC Radio 3, where a Ugandan journalist made a number of critical points to dispel the prevailing notion that this is a one-dimensional problem and urged the IC campaigners to dig deeper in their research and place the blame where it really belongs (if not entirely, at least shared with Joseph Kony and the LRA): on Yoweri Museveni and the Ugandan Army.
He also brought to the fore the ethnic dimensions of the problem, e.g. how the North of the country, where the LRA has its stronghold, has been historically ‘segregated’ from the rest of the country. That ‘segregationism’, he argued, takes such forms as naming a so far unexplained disease that has been ravaging the country “the Northern disease” for no other reason than that there is no known cure for it. Which led me to draw a parallel to the ‘stigma’ attached to the North of Angola over the past decade for a number of outbreaks of strange or unexplained diseases in that part of the country and also to the ethnic dimension of the Angolan war – something strongly dismissed by the official line, as recently stressed by President Jose’ Eduardo dos Santos and an Angolan journalist, both quoted here .
But the controversy sparked by the IC video and ongoing campaign doesn’t stop there and I am just catching up with it – a particularly interesting article on the issue can be found here .
Also of not are Mahmood Mamdani's views on the issue:
"The 70 million plus who have watched the Invisible Children video need to realise that the LRA – both the leaders and the children pressed into their service – are not an alien force but sons and daughters of the soil. The solution is not to eliminate them physically, but to find ways of integrating them into (Ugandan) society.
Those in the Ugandan and the US governments – and now apparently the owners of Invisible Children – must bear responsibility for regionalising the problem as the LRA and, in its tow, the Ugandan army and US advisors criss-cross the region, from Uganda to DRC to CAR. Yet, at its core the LRA remains a Ugandan problem calling for a Ugandan political solution."
*Update - 17/03/2012
After catching up with the full story, pondering all the arguments and balancing out the pros and cons, I decided to support the 'Kony 2012' campaign. It became, over and above its political dimensions, a matter of conscience for me.