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Kony 2012: clueless compassionate capitalism

Hama Tuma
By Hama Tuma

Hama Tuma is an Ethiopian writer,poet and journalst who has been for long active in the struggle for democracy and human rights in Africa. His collection of satirical articles have appeared in four volumes of African Absurdities (the latest one titled Why Don't they eat Coltan?).Some of his books of fiction and satire have been translated into French,Italian and Hebrew.

Posted on Monday, 19 March 2012 15:27

To avoid any possible misunderstanding, let me start by stating that Joseph Kony, the notorious rebel leader and relative of the equally infamous self declared witch – Alice Lakwena (frequented by many top Kenyan officials in Nairobi), cannot be taken lightly. For over twenty years he has led a rebellion against Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni. The atrocities he has committed include kidnapping children, rape, chopping off ears, noses and lips at will, among others. But notwithstanding arguments that he lacked a political programme, Kony had planned to set up a different system of governance for Uganda under his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) with, perhaps, himself as the top prophet.

Equally, the Invisible Children organisation, credited with the YouTube video entitled ‘Kony 2012’ cannot be taken lightly. Their video, seen by over 60 million people in just 48 hours after it was uploaded on YouTube, helped the group raise US$5 million in the process. Invisible Children claim the money raised would be used for positive construction work and projects in Northern Uganda, where Kony’s rebels operate, despite having raised US$8.6 million and used only 32 percent of that money for services in Northern Uganda in 2011.

The hue and cry surrounding Invisible Children’s fund raising reveals the cracks in “compassionate capitalism”. It is as a result of the business of help, from Western capitalist states, being a worn out and threadbare theme with little merit. In fact, as their record has shown, money is the central nerve in the Kony 2012 project, a project that brings to bear some of the murky operations among charity organisations that wail for the downtrodden as they wipe their crocodile tears with the millions of dollars ostensibly raised to help Africans. And as glossy and superficial as it is, with respect to the real problems in Uganda, the Kony 2012 film has caught the attention of millions.

Invisible Children NGO or Co calls for and backs American military intervention in Uganda. And with the level of public opinion it has garnered, Obama has obliged sending a hundred Special Forces operatives to assist the Uganda army at a time when Museveni’s regime, a Washington ally in the former so-called war against terror, has troops in neighbouring Somalia. But after having sent heavy contingents to root out al-Shabab, accepting an American military presence in Uganda to deal with the Kony affair does not augur well for Museveni, especially as a lot of Ugandans view the al-Shabab threat as a clear and present danger following the World Cup bombings in 2010 in Kampala, the capital. It does not augur well for other allies like Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, whose troops in Somalia recently suffered heavy casualties. But whilst African countries struggle to deal with violent groups, the question is, will those naïve Africans, whose deep slumber Senghor called “the great sleep of the negro”, snap out of their reverie of a great American cavalry coming to their continent’s rescue? Surely not. But only in their dreams will such a saviour exist!

Angelina Jolie “hates” Kony

In the meantime, a coterie of Hollywood stars have joined the fray and are calling on all and sundry to make Kony 2012 famous in order to make Kony, the man, more infamous. They want to have him “taken down” not only by Obama’s powerful army but also by Angelina Jolie, who declared that if left alone with Kony in a room she would take down this person: “I hate him”, she said. Hollywood at its best.

But whilst such an oversimplification of the Kony dilemma and, for that matter, the Ugandan canker has helped the Invisible Children group to pander to sentiments and raise a lot of money, rooting out the Kony quagmire remains a Ugandan political affair. And advocating for an American military intervention in support of the Ugandan regime should be reconsidered, for all the ills such an operation promises.

The Uganda regime and its security forces have been continuously accused of violating the human rights of the very citizens they are supposed to protect. Last February’s general election was dismissed by the opposition as a fraud with Museveni violating the constitution to run for a third time, amid accusations of military intimidation of voters. Opposition leaders are continuously repressed. The Uganda army conducting operations in the Central African Republic has been accused of a myriad of atrocities against civilians. Even DRC President Joseph Kabila’s government has accused the Ugandan army of committing atrocities within its borders during their anti-Kony campaign.

Also Read: Kony 2012 and a lot of angry Ugandans

Nonetheless, the Invisible Children group and its Hollywood cabal have called for American military assistance to buttress the Ugandan army’s anti-Kony campaign.

Herewith, a piece culled from an expert’s page, sounding the alarm bells:

“The adult population recalls the brutal government-directed counter-insurgency campaign, beginning in 1986, which evolved into Operation North, the first big operation in the country that people talk about as massively destructive for civilians, and which created the conditions that gave rise to the LRA of Joseph Kony and, before it, the Holy Spirit Movement of Alice Lakwena. Young adults recall the time from the mid-1990s when most rural residents of the three Acholi districts were forcibly interned in camps. The Ugandan government claimed it was to “protect” them from the LRA. But there were allegations of murder, bombings, and the burnings of entire villages: first to force people into the camps, and then to force them to stay put. By 2005, the camp population grew from a few hundred thousand to over 1.8 million in the entire region – which included Teso and Lango – of which over a million were from the three Acholi districts. Comprising practically the entire rural population of the three Acholi districts, they were expected to live on handouts from relief agencies. According to the government’s own Ministry of Health, the excess mortality rate in these camps was approximately 1,000 persons per week – inviting comparisons with the numbers killed by the LRA even in the worst year”.

Big Salaries and suffering masses

Museveni refused to sign an Amnesty Bill proposed by his own parliament. Instead, he and his allies resorted to the Western poodle a.k.a. Luis Moreno Ocampo of the ICC, who charged Kony and the LRA leadership with crimes against humanity. One would imagine that leaders under whose leadership some parts of the world have suffered grave events would be on the ICC list. No chance. The ICC list could even be accused of discrimination. Check it out:

Bashir Abu Garda, Mohamed Ali, Abadella Banda, Omar Bashir, Jean Pierre Bemba, Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al Islam Gaddafi, Laurent Gbagbo, Ahmed Haroum, Uhuru Kenyatta, Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti (LRA), Thomas Lubanga, William Ruto, and many more Africans. No Anglo Saxons, no pro-Washington criminals or murderers. But only the clueless do not see political strings at work. ICC’s decision to indict Kony and not the Ugandan army smacks of a lack of objectivity or fairness.

Recent oil discovery in Uganda has seen a rise in American interests in that country at a time when multi-national companies are determined to amass tons of coltan, gold and other minerals in neighbouring eastern DR Congo even if this is costing a great number of human lives. In neighbouring, recently, independent South Sudan, where Kony and his men also hover, petrol and land have ignited massive international interest.

Finally, why all the hue and cry around Kony now after so many years of his barbaric rampage and when he is weak and on the verge of collapse? The demonisation of Kony and his ragtag army, which has been reduced from 2000 to less than 200, possibly his sons, has come at a time when dissatisfaction in Uganda is growing. Dissatisfaction over oil, land, corruption, tyranny and ethnic grievances has stifled the Ugandan political atmosphere. So while the Invisible Children group’s call, for American intervention and all out support to the Museveni regime- by demonising a rather weakened Kony and LRA, may come as a diversionary relief for the everlasting government, it is far from being the biggest concern for Ugandans. The regional political dynamics cannot be separated from any international decision to root out Kony.

Once again some clueless but money-hungry Westerners have decided to play cynical games with Africa’s misery and fate by virtue of “compassionate capitalism”. Big salaries for them and little help to the millions of Kony’s victims in need of justice and respite.

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