#stopkony 2012: voices from the ground

in my first post regarding the kony2012 video i mentioned an organization in gulu (northern uganda) called arlpi (the acholi religious leaders peace initiative). since that post and a lot of the internet back-lash against the video the leadership at arlpi have viewed the video and made a response.

both are well worth your time and attention.

you can find the link to the open letter here.

Community believes that Invisible Children is being used to promote US interests. In the video Russell-the author of the video clearly stated that everyone in Washington they talked to said there is no way the United States will get involved in a conflict where our national security or financial interest is aren’t stake. Community feels the video is a gate way for selfish interest but not to stop the war.

mennonite central committee-uganda has also released a statement regarding the video.

 It is therefore grossly misleading for Invisible Children to emphasize a northern Ugandan context of 2003, for an international campaign of this magnitude today. A generation of night commuters, whose situation is emphasized in the video, has now grown into teenagers and adults, and is experiencing other post-conflict difficulties

the conversation is not over–kony may not be trending on twitter anymore, but this does not mean that the solution has been found–that the end has come. continue to engage in conversation. continue to learn. (and continue to sell everything you own, and give it to the poor.)


so, you want to donate money

this is the most complex and difficult part of this conversation–this conversation of helping, of hearing and responding, of engaging with the world outside your front door. welcome. this is a beautiful opportunity, and i am truly glad that you want to give. again let me stress the importance of research and knowledge. at the end of this post there is a list of organizations and as much information as i can concisely post regarding work, contact information and how you can donate but i urge you to not just take my word for it. do more research. send some emails, ask someone else about the organization that you are wanting to begin partnering with.

uganda is a beautiful and delightful country, and joseph kony and the lra are real things that have created real problems in northern uganda. at running the risk of repeating myself–joseph kony is no longer in northern uganda (or uganda at all). the people of northern uganda are dealing with the aftermath of being a war-zone. there is a lot of untreated and unrealized trauma of a people and there are deep and profound issues in the return of people from the internally displaced persons camps through out the region. underlying these issues are the national issues of severe corruption in the national and local governments, child sacrifice, mob justice, the struggle for basic survival, deep poverty, sanitation, and domestic violence.

i urge you to not just thrown money at a problem that made you feel sadness–but to engage as fully as you are able for as long as you are able. and then more. when there is a deep need requiring some sort of outside assistance it is a safe bet that the problem is complex and will not be assuaged simply with one surge of donations (malaria or poverty will not end with the writing of a check. it just won’t). this is not to say that one-time-donation is always bad, it can be a very good thing. what i am asking you to do is think deeply and engage in conversation regarding this choice. learn to look for the root causes of problems and to support those who are seeking deep and profound change not only treating the woulds as one would in triage.

doing sustainable work when relying on donations is made much more stressful when wondering if there will be enough money this month to be able to continue the work. so do consider more than a one-time-donation, but a long-term partnership of mutual growing and sharing.

justice and reconciliation project is an independent ugandan ngo working “with victims and survivors of conflict to ensure that they participate in local, national and international processes of justice, healing and reconciliation.” believing “that community-led transitional justice processes are critical to sustainable, post-conflict justice and reconciliation.”

for more information regarding their work, to read their reports and to become more acquainted  with transitional justice visit their website. to financially give to the justice and reconciliation project email them and begin a conversation on how you can work together.

GUSCO (gulu support the children organisation), a local ngo founded in 1994 works “to promote the well-being of war affected children in northern uganda through provision of psycho-social support, capacity building of communities, education, advocacy and peace building.”

arlpi (acholi religious leaders peace initiative) “arlpi is an interfaith peace building and conflict transformation organization formed in 1997 as a proactive response to the conflict in northern uganda.” bringing together “leaders of six different religious sects/denominations (anglican, catholic, muslim, orthodox, pentecoastal and seventh day adventist) and their respective constituencies to participate effectively in transforming conflicts (conflict transformation) in northern uganda and the surrounding area.” working through dialogue, negotiation, mediation and [traditional] reconciliation to “promote sustainable peacebuilding and development in northern uganda.”

“if you would like to walk along side us and support our work, please contact us at:
acholi religious leaders’ peace initiative
plot 16,olya rd.
p.o. box 104
gulu town,


ker-kawaro acholi  founded in 2000, the work of kerr-kwaro acholi (kka) has been “directly linked to ending the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency and resettling Acholi people back in their villages.  Its emphasis lies on the passing over of cultural knowledge to the younger generations, who have been uprooted by the two decades of war and displacement.” to begin a conversation, email them here.

the recreation project  believes in the power of healing through play.”the experiential learning model of the recreation project is one the most powerful and effective methods for teaching trust, self-belief, and hope.  TRP uses a guided ropes course and outdoor adventure excursions as tools for learning.  young people who come to TRP encounter a radical change of scene that removes them from their daily routine and allows them to think new thoughts and use imagination to overcome obstacles at the ropes course and in their lives.  they are having fun while internalizing the important life-skills and character-building skills needed to navigate a new landscape that for decades has been defined by war and conflict but through their energy and vision has the potential to thrive.”

learn how to partner with the recreation project.

terra nova academy a young and exciting project in uganda just putting down roots and collecting the energy to grow tall and strong. the terra nova academy is responding to the deep need for quality, affordable education in uganda. “we long for terra nova to be a place where students ask qustions freely, where children can be imperfect without the fear of physical abuse. we pray for a place where children can deepen thir understanding of faith and god. this is not simply about building a successfully academic school. it is about eveloping as many ugandan students as we can to do more than just survive. we want them to dream too, and to become leaders in their own world. we dream of a place where teahers have the resources to enhance their lessons with creativity. terra nova will teach children to learn both academically and artistically while building their personal foundation of faith, developing skills, and changing the world for ugandan kids to come.”

there are many ways to support terra nova.

Send ALL tax deductible donations to:
New Day Network
Attn: Uganda Missions
PO Box 420013
Haugan, Montana 59842

mennonite central committee(mcc)- mcc uganda “mcc works in uganda in peace-building, care for urban and rural people living with HIV and AIDS, community development and education. during a 20-year conflict with a rebel group, [the] lord’s resistance army (lra), 2 million people were displaced, children were abducted, civilians mutilated and homes and farms destroyed. as people struggle to rebuild their lives, mcc workers and grants support mental health and trauma recovery work; advocacy and trainings for peace-building efforts of churches and interfaith groups; rural primary and secondary education, including through global family; and peace trainings for iteso and karimojong people whose conflicts date back decades.”

there are many ways to donate to mcc. penny power, attend a relief sale (buy a pie. mail it to me.) visit an mcc thrift shop (united states listing, and canada listings) cash for kits, donate to a worker or directly to a country program.

refugee law project “the refugee law project (rlp) seeks to ensure fundamental human rights for all asylum seekers, refugees, and internally isplaced persons within uganda. we envision a country that treats all people within its borders with teh same standards of respect and social justice. we work to see that all people living in uganda, as specified under national and international law, are treated with the fairness and consideration due fellow human beings.”

do donate: there is a link about half way down the main page on the left side. you can choose to donate to where there is highest need, to the sgbv/p program or PWDs program.

concerned parents association formed in response to the abduction of children by the lra. the parents who originally founded the cpa were parents whose children were abducted. they know whats up. “a child focused organization formed by a group of parents affected by the abduction of children by the lords resistance army (lra) in northern uganda. formation of CPA was sparked off immediately after the abduction of 139 school girls from st. mary’s college aboke on the night of the 34th independence anniversary of the republic of uganda on october 10th 1996.”contact cpa to discuss donation.

concerned children and youth is a youth-led organization for youth. “co-founded in 2001 by concerned individuals/…/we invite you to become a new “we:” to practice reconciliation, rebuilding, reforesting so we may live into a more beautiful, hopeful peace.”  begin a conversation to donate.

the trouble with a single story [continuing to respond to “kony 2012”]

a list of sustainable organizations in uganda (northern and all other regions) is coming soon. before that, i wanted to expand a bit on some of the points i made in my last blog post “responding to kony2012”.

“it is impossible to engage properly with a place or person without engaging in all the stories of that place and that person, it robs people of dignity.” *

one of the main critiques that many have made in the past few days is that of the video’s oversimplified, dumbed-down or uninformed advocacy. this critique is not unique to this video and not a new phenomena in engaging with the world. in october 2009 nigerian author chimamanda ngozi adichie gave a TEDtalk on “the danger of a single story” addressing the exactly the issue many are taking with this viral video. if unfamiliar with TEDtalks, they are twenty-minutes and under and have covered a wide and varied number of subjects. i strongly encourage you to watch the entire video. maybe even twice.

“show a people as one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.”

this does not have to mean this is what the people truly become–but it is what they become in the minds of those who have not seen. who do not truly know. speaking about a place like northern uganda with outdated facts and little history objectifies the people into a people who really just need people from the global north to step in and save them, and perpetuates the paternalistic and arcane view of THE WEST having the answer.

“to insist on only these negative stories is to flatten my experience and to overlook the many other stories that formed me.”

i have seen, with my own eyes the radical hospitality, amazing ingenuity, deep love and compassion of the people of northern uganda (and central uganda, and western uganda, and southern uganda…).

and there are beautiful things going on in northern uganda. returned lra soldiers are being embraced by their communities–there is real and true work being done toward reintegration and being reconciled to one another. the place and the people are not flat one-dimentional, but complex, unique, hurting, powerful and beautiful people–just like all other members of humanity. only allowing their story to be told as one of constant war, death, terror and neediness takes away the inaliable humanity of every single individual.

“when we reject the single story when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.”

a kind of paradise where we take the time to listen to the more complex story. where we acknowledge the emotions and pullings that something like a viral video can raise for us–but then asking questions, reading histories and stories of a place and people, of asking more questions and seeking a more complete and full understanding than just one point of view.

we, as people, would be much better at hearing and responding to stories like that of the lra, famine in the horn of africa, tsunami’s in indonesia, earthquakes in japan and haiti if we realize that there is not just one story for anything. and to understand we must listen and learn, question and wonder. engage in conversation and then write your check if it still seems the prudent decision in that situation.

a voice from uganda

embeded below is a response to the video by a ugandan journalist and blogger rosebell kagumire. begin by listening to her.

rosebell has also written three fantastic blog posts:

drawing attention to the need for people to be careful where they send their money, addressing pride and paternalistic global north giving: when the ‘world’s most wanted man’ was captured by twitter also offers insight on outside donations to uganda from a point of view we in north america do not and cannot have by virtue of being from north america.

from her blog, more perspective on kony2012 rosebell engages other knowledgable voices regarding the lra conflict and northern uganda addressing “the american solution” and the ill feelings many on-the-ground in uganda consider to be viable options.

in her video rosebell addresses the mysterious nodding disease– in support nodding disease victims the most urgent challenge to a northern uganda child she offers some information and how one can get involved in finding the cause and stopping this disease from taking more children’s lives.

*all quotes in this post are from chimamanda adichie’s TEDtalk.

responding to “kony2012”

let me begin this post by saying that i love uganda totally and unconditionally. i love having lived in uganda, i love learning about all the different cultures and languages, learning to ‘speak english’ and ‘eat food’ and am anxious to return to that diverse and beautiful place. i love the people of uganda with my whole heart and want nothing but good things for the country, the people, the region.

let me also begin by saying that i love this country, i love the united states and the people and cultures and food of this country. unconditionally and whole heartedly. i love living here and am glad to be living here right now. i love the people of the united states with my whole heart and want nothing but good things for the country, the people.

it is with this love and deep care that i write this blog-post.
love for the people of uganda that their voices be heard-and love for those in the united states who may not be hearing the whole story.

a second caveat before beginning–the group called “invisible children” has, indeed, had a positive impact in the united states and in uganda. i recognize the “waking up” of the youth of north america (and other countries in the global north), teaching a new generation the importance of their right to protest, their right to speak up and be heard, and the importance of being informed about the world around them. these are amazingly important things. as one of those youth who was asleep to uganda and was awakened by the original “invisible children” movie–which in many ways was the catalyst to get me to uganda the first time in 2007–it is my responsibility to listen, critique and challenge. in uganda ic has built schools, provided learning materials, dug wells and created jobs. i do not deny some of their actions are positive.


major point one: “uninformed and oversimplified advocacy” (fp) is extremely problematic for not only the people of uganda but also for the members of the global north who are participating in the uninformed and oversimplified advocacy/campaign. 

lets start with some facts.

“but let’s get two things straight: 1) joseph kony is not in uganda and hasn’t been for 6 years; 2) the lra now numbers at most in the hundreds, and while it is still causing immense suffering, it is unclear how millions of well-meaning but misinformed people are going to help deal with the more complicated reality.” Foreign Policy’s article “Joseph Kony is not in Uganda, and other Complicated Things”

if this “kony 2012” video was the only thing that i had seen regarding northern uganda, of if this was my only source of information since the original “invisible children” movie then it would be natural to assume that gulu is still a war-zone. and by watching twitter and facebook the past few days it is evident that many people have viewed this video and immediately agreed with no research beyond this particular video or the IC website.

wanting to give IC the benefit of the doubt/grace i do not think that they are purposefully trying to misinform the youth of the global north. however, as someone who has lived in uganda and knows the country and region more intimately than most americans i have to tell you of the incongruence of some portions of this new video. for time and space i shall mention two:

1) at least twice in the “kony 2012” a shot of the international criminal court’s (icc’s) list of “most wanted” showing joseph kony’s name as #1. just below his name in the #2  is vincent otti. vincent otti has been dead since 2008.

i do not point this out to say that kony has not committed crimes against humanity–he certainly has–nor to say that i do not want his reign to end–i do–but to draw your attention to how easy it is to use outdated facts, materials and sources. this material suits what IC is trying to say–“kony is number one, so lets go get him!” all of this is far more complicated than kony being a “a bad guy.”

2) at 15:01 in the online movie there is a map of uganda–showing in red the area where kony and the lord’s resistance army (lra) was located. this red area spans the entirity of the north of uganda, all the way to the kenya border in the east. this is simply not true. including the karamoja region as in the path of kony is simply untrue.

again, i am not pointing out this discrepancy to say that the lra did not commit atrocity, crimes against humanity and mass murder. they did. it happened and i have seen the scars and heard the cries with my own ears and eyes. however, i refuse to let these atrocities bleed over into areas that have their own grief to deal with–who do not need to be falsely lumped into a conflict other than the one they are dealing with. this is not a minor detail, not just a slight oversight on a graphic of a map, but is an infuriating oversight that gives me pause. how simple to expand the perceived theater of war! how irresponsible to show a larger area than truth dictates! my frustration and sadness is for the people of uganda–the people of karamoja who have been somehow now lumped into a conflict they have nothing to do with–but also for the people in north america/the global north who are watching this video who know little about uganda and now assume that this geography is correct and take that as fact. it is not fact. it is incorrect and is a small thing that shows a greater issue. it is easy to misinform and be misinformed.

from the justice in conflict blog, mark kersten writes, “the crisis in northern uganda is not seen by its citizens as one that is the result of the lra. yes, you read that right. the conflict in the region is viewed as one wherein both the government of uganda and the lra, as well as their regional supporters (primarily south sudan and khartoum, respectively) have perpetrated and benefited from nearly twenty-five years of systemic and structural violence and displacement. this pattern is what chris dolan has eloquently and persuasively termed ‘social torture‘ wherein both the ugandan government and the lra’s treatment of the population has resulted in symptoms of collective torture and the blurring of the perpetrator-victim binary.” taking ‘kony 2012’ down a notch

northern uganda, and uganda as a whole is struggling for good governance. the most recent presidential ‘elections’ in uganda consisted of yoweri museveni bullying his way into continued presidential term for over 25 years now. is this democracy? from the deadly crack down on  the “walk to work” campaign  (where it suddenly became illegal to walk anywhere) to rampant corruption of leadership from the president to local government officials (including skimming [that is stealing money] done by military personnel as well as the police), to the “kill the gay’s” bill and the discovery of oil in the west (also),  uganda has a lot going on.

this problem is far more complex than joseph kony not being famous. far more complex than getting ellen to speak the words “joseph kony” or “uganda” on television.

major point two: i keep hearing that “no one is doing anything” or “no one was talking about uganda before yesterday” and “no one knew about this.” this simply is not true.

now, before getting upset with me, let me say (again) that i am thankful that people are talking about uganda. that people care and want to be engaged in social change and the end of war. but to say that no one was talking about uganda, or knew about the lra/joseph kony/child soldiers or ‘the situation’ in uganda/drc/sudan and south sudan/car is untrue and extremely paternalistic (google “whites in shining armor and read the aid-bloggers explosion regarding this issue. i shall leave to your own devices there.)

there are countless ugandans who “have known” and have been striving for the end of kony’s lra since the beginning of the conflict, and have continued even after kony and the lra have left uganda.

the acholi religious leaders peace initiative  (arlpi) is an interfaith and nonviolent group who organized as a response to the lra in 1997. not 2012. 1997. that is 15 years of knowledge and work. 15 years plus the wisdom and understanding that they possess by virtue of being from northern uganda.

sister rosemary nyirumbe [this video was published in 2008] and the sisters at st. monica’s girls vocational school who have been working with girls returned from and affected by the conflict providing not only extremely important vocational skills to these girls, but also love, counseling and holistic healing of the person.

archbishop john baptist odama, the catholic archbishop of the gulu archdiocese who packed his cavera (plastic bag) and went to sleep in the street with the night commuters when they were flocking to gulu in the mid-2000’s. he has been a member of arlpi, and a strong advocate for a peaceful resolution.

bishop macleord ochola ii, a founding member of arlpi who himself has suffered greatly because of this conflict.

angelina atyam whose own daughter* was one of the young women abducted from st. mary’s–these young women became known as the “aboke girls” who, through her own grief and loss helped to found the concerned parents association and recently the concerned children and youth assocation.

sister margaret acheng, founder of caritas counseling center in gulu who now shares her knowledge and passion for holistic care in the counseling program at gulu university.

and numerous unsung and unnamed women, men and children of northern uganda who have experienced the lra in every way. from surviving massacres, surviving mutilation and torture, living  for 20 years in internally displaced person’s camps, struggling with land rights and finding “home” again after leaving these camps and striving to live their lives fully. they know. and intimately so.

major point three: what does ic mean when they say “kony must be stopped”? addressing black-and-white good guy vs. bad guy simplicity.

lets just get this out of the way: i’m a pacifist. i do not condone nor rejoice in killing. my response to osama bin laden’s death and the celebration in the streets was to weep–for the loss of life and for a culture who would rejoice in murder–not to jump up and down. this is not what i consider justice.

and continually sending armed troops to “find and arrest” joseph kony/the lra leaves the door standing wide open for him being killed. i suspect he’s wise enough to know that and therefore will not present himself to the armed updf soldiers looking for him. he is not an idiot.

IF the lra is as strong as IC makes them out to be (it is highly unlikely that there are 30,000 troops roaming around central and eastern africa–most recent reports suggest hundreds, not several thousand) then “stopping kony” wouldn’t necessarily end the conflict.

at the beginning of IC’s video jason russell shows footage of his son’s birth–saying, “every single person in the world started this way. he didn’t choose where or when he was born. because he’s here, he matters.” i agree, jason, your son gavin does matter. his life is important. the link between young gavin and the children abducted in northern uganda is an important one to make.

but what about the worth of joseph kony’s life? did he not also begin as a baby who did not choose his station and time in life? is his life also not of value? the “there is only good or evil” in the world binary is false. joseph kony’s actions are bad, yes. however joseph kony is still a human being–created in the imago dei–whose life is still a life and still has value.

major point four: you want to help, that’s great.

“i want to get involved. what should i do?”
continue reading and researching. read or watch more than one news source and compare and contrast what you hear or see. take your time. ASK MORE QUESTIONS.

use your brain as well as your emotions. IC has targeted your emotions to get you to give money (they are so not alone in this–most, if not all, advertising plays on your emotions). this is true even if their intentions are good and noble in origin. you’ve seen the commercials with the dirty children with flies on their faces and distended bellies, you’ve seen the commercials of starving and injured puppies and your emotions are tugged (rightfully so, i say) but its what we do after we acknowledge the emotional content of the situation that really makes a difference. take those emotions and let them fuel research and question asking.

linked above were a few online articles. at the bottom of this post you will find an annotated bibliography (of sorts) of several blog posts, articles and other internet postings regarding “kony 2012.”  they are in no particular order.

“i want to donate money/start a fundraiser”
by all means, give money away. give a lot of it away. sell all of your things and give your money to the poor! yes!

do some research first.

i am working on contacting some friends and organizations who are in gulu and other affected areas in northern uganda to see what their specific needs are, if they would like assistance in meeting them with money from north america, and will post these options as soon as i hear back from them.

don’t want to wait? email me at [thera[dot]freeman[at]gmail[dot]com and i can tell you about:

an anglican diocese in karamoja (north east, uganda) who could use assistance in removing asbestos from schools, training primary school teachers, providing clergy with safe and reliable transportation through volatile areas to visit parishioners, providing food assistance to those who cannot afford/grow it, etc.

a new school and leadership program in central uganda seeking to provide holistic and affordable education as well as strong character and leadership training. they are just getting started and can use all the support you can muster.

numerous children who cannot afford to pay school fees (education is not free in uganda–there are fees, uniforms, books, pencils, paper, shoes, food, firewood and other expenses to provide for)

a seminary near gulu in need of resources, teachers and funding.
*angelina atyam’s daughter is charlotte awino, who made her escape from the lra and is now a voice against human trafficking.

_____ things worth reading ______

joseph kony is not in uganda (and other complicated things)
foreign policy.com

michael wilkerson, who has lived in and reported from uganda, critiques the “kony 2012” campaign mainly focusing on the “uninformed and oversimplified advocacy” that the invisible children organization offers, calling into question the threat of removing the 100 “american advisors” as there has been no mention of doing such. “that seems noble enough, except that there has been no mention of the government of withdrawing those forces – at least any i can find.”

the most important question wilkerson asks is “stop kony, then what? or what if the activism just results in the 100 u.s. advisors staying but no kony?”

acholi street. stop #kony2012. invisible children’s campaign of infamy
angelo opi-aia izama blogging at http://www.thisisafrica.wordpress.com

“many african critics unsurprisingly are crying neo-colonialism. this is because these campaigns are disempowering of their own voices. after all the conflict and suffering is affecting them directly regardless of if they hit the re-tweet button or not. at the end of the day the kony2012 campaign will not make joseph kony more famous but it will make invisible children famous. it will also make many, including p.diddy, feel like they have contributed some good to his capture- assuming kony is even alive. for many in the conflict prevention community including those who worry about the militarization of it in central africa this campaign is just another nightmare that will end soon. hopefully.”

taking ‘kony2012’ down a notch

the problem being popularity:  “i would understand if this were the 1990s or even the early 2000s when teh misery laguing nothern uganda flew competley under the radar. i would understand if this campaign was about teh ongoing conflit in teh democratic republic of congo. but a campaign in 2012, premised on joseph kony not being famous enough is just folly.”
the lack of ugandans in the video “incredibly, with the exception of the adolescent northern ugandan victim, jacob, the voices of nothern ugandans go almost competley unheard.”

updf in kony hunt accused of rape, looting
emma mutaizibwa,  theobserver.ug

published before the viral video went live emma discusses charges of looting of lumber, minerals; selling of guns and munitions and sexual crimes against the updf on multiple occasions. sadly, this is not new news.

kony 2012: a critical perspective

“this is not a new video.  it documents a political situation in uganda nearly a decade ago.  a situation that has changed dramatically in the past 9 years.”

“it also appears that the motives of invisible children may no longer be entirely altruistic.  three founders collectively received over 1/4 million dollars in payment… wages?… in 2011 alone. on top of that, the charity holds significant assets, including: $750,000 in computer equipment, nearly $290,000 in transportation equipment, and over $175,000 in video camera and recording equipment.  one estimate puts the percentage of donations to invisible children that actually goes to ugandan efforts at around 32%.”

ic has not complied with the better business bureau’s request for an audit.

“it wouldn’t be fair to say that invisible children are deliberately misleading the internet community to further their charity, but it wouldn’t be fair to say that they’re not either.  the film is undoubtedly carefully crafted to deliver a certain message – all films are – but is it irresponsible of them to only partially inform their viewers when the fate of an entire country may rest on their actions?

“there can be no doubt that joseph kony should indeed be infamous the world over; the atrocities which he has committed can barely be imagined by the tertiary-educated first-world sharing the kony 2012 video. but before you rush in and offer your support, make sure you understand where your money is going and that you’re doing it for the right reasons. support the cause, not the charity.

and stay informed so that half-decade old news doesn’t catch you off-guard. don’t let it take a viral event such as this to make you stand up and take notice of world events. kony isn’t the first man to commit atrocities of this calibre, and he won’t be the last.”

what you should be reading if you want to understand the us and the lord’s resistance army
chris blattman.com

“if the us and ugandans have ambitious and serious new plans, they are doing a wonderful job of concealing the fact. another well-concealed fact: capturing kony will probably mean going through a wall of formerly abducted children. kony usually prefers a bodyguard of 13-year olds, since he doesn’t trust anyone older. i’m not sure if there are many children with him now (most, i suspect, have now grown up) but either way it will be messy. don’t expect to see that in a press release soon.”

on kony 2012
the daily what

“but killing kony won’t fix anything, just as killing osama bin laden didn’t end terrorism. the lra might collapse, but, as foreign affairs points out, it is “a relatively small player in all of this — as much a symptom as a cause of the endemic violence.” ”

“the bottom line is, research your causes thoroughly. don’t just forward a random video to a stranger because a mass murderer makes a five-year-old “sad.” learn a little bit about the complexities of the region’s ongoing strife before advocating for direct military intervention.”
visible children
grant oyston’s tumblr

“is awareness good? yes. But these problems are highly complex, not one-dimensional and, frankly, aren’t of the nature that can be solved by postering, film-making and changing your facebook profile picture, as hard as that is to swallow. giving your money and public support to invisible children so they can spend it on supporting ill-advised violent intervention and movie #12 isn’t helping. do i have a better answer? no, i don’t, but that doesn’t mean that you should support KONY 2012 just because it’s somethingsomething isn’t always better than nothing. sometimes it’s worse.”

what does it mean to love our enemies? really.
michelle perry –www.fromtheunpavedroad.com

the response of a western christian living in the region. worth a full read.

“here are some personal thoughts to consider from someone who may have the people she loves very dearly caught in the middle of this campaigns unintended consequences on the field:

  1. vilifying, dehumanizing even the most vile of our enemies, over simplifying complex international issues into a social media frenzy that in the end result of things may actually promote more violence is not the answer.
  2. in a region plagued by violence, more violence is never the answer. what you sow, you reap.
  3. what happened to loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us? those of us who have chosen to walk in the way of jesus need to model his heart when it counts most. 
  4. this is, in my view, a perfect social media storm in the making that in all likelihood will do more damage than good to the very people it purports to help”

unmuted-you don’t have my vote

read it.

“i understand that ic is a us-based organization working to change us policy. but, it doesn’t absolve it from the responsibility of telling a more complete story, one that shows the challenges and trials along side the strength, resilience, and transformational work of affected communities.”

“when it comes to africa, we have seen the ic approach play out time and time again, whether it was ethiopia in the 1980s, somalia in the early 2000s to date, darfur in 2004, or now. history is on our side and it shows that these types of approaches often fail. at some point, we have to say enough is enough. africans, raise your voice! now and into the future.”