14 March 2012

Mama Congo Tracks Joseph Kony

Now that over 70 million people have seen Invisible Children’s Joseph Kony video, I’m sure an equal number of Mama Congo readers are wondering what our Congolese friends have to say. So I conducted a very scientific study…meaning I chit-chatted with about a dozen people.

I started explaining the crazy phenomenon of a video on the internet going viral. This is kind of a funny conversation in itself of how we throw around the word “virus,” which of course has a totally different meaning here. Then I’d say, “Tell me more about the LRA.” Interestingly, few knew much. In French the LRA is called l’armée de résistance du Seigneur, but for some reason keeps the acronym LRA from English.

Of those who had definitely heard of the LRA, only one knew of Joseph Kony. (And this friend is from Central African Republic where Kony’s rumored to be hiding out.) I talked to friends from several provinces including ones in the north and east where much of the LRA conflict is taking place, and still they weren’t totally versed in the subject.--If only they had read this gem of an article written by the world's foremost expert on everything.

In the last four years, the LRA has killed over 3,000 people and led to the displacement of about 440,000. The majority of this has taken place in the DRC. It’s hard for me to offer much commentary on why Kinois (or at least the ones from my “incredibly extensive” survey) don’t know much about the LRA.

One theory that came up in conversation is that Congo is so huge. The size of Western Europe in fact. And to put it bluntly, there are a lot of complicated conflicts going on here. The stuff dissertations and extremely dense books are made up of. The LRA, while incredibly horrible, is just one part of the problem. Another theory is that there are actually ties between the current government and the LRA, so information is heavily managed.

A news item many Congolese are excited to talk about is Obama sending Special Forces to the area in October. For some, this was their introduction to the LRA issue, perhaps because it made international news.

In the week following the Kony video, it's easy to be critical. It’s obvious that a 30 minute video can’t possibly do justice to the issue. Often we get upset that no one pays attention to what’s going on in the region, and then get upset when we do get attention because it’s not the right kind of attention. I think we should spend less time complaining and more time being productive with the press we get. Suggestions welcome on how to make that possible.

Disclaimer: I haven’t actually seen the Kony video. Our internet isn’t good enough to support it. That’s probably the LRA’s fault.

1 comment:

  1. An article by an old professor of mine (on how military action isn't the answer to the "KONY problem"): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-schirch/kony-2012-and-the-failed-_b_1336574.html


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