By: Ana Tobias
In the past two weeks my students have been coming to me with concerns about a tragic situation taking place in Africa. I acknowledged their concerns, but I also tried to tell them that they must research and learn about the problem before they get hot- headed and react.
I, as many of you, went to Youtube to watch the infamous Kony2012 video produced by Invisible Children. I can’t say I was shocked to see the atrocities but I can tell you that the video is a bit offensive. I noticed not only that the footage was extremely outdated, but it also called on Americans to SAVE these children. I understand that as human beings we would like to help one another but in my opinion, it is ridiculous that for the last 20 years, this situation has occurred and no one did anything about it until now, and all of a sudden there is a huge interest in helping these kids?
I must add that the problem is not merely about the lives being lost or corrupted but of the land and the oil industries. It is interesting to see that most of these lands have great resources and that the United States is eager to militarize the area, because we want to gain control over these lands, and Kony is the perfect excuse to send military personal. However, I argue, is this the right thing to do? I mean, is it a good idea to send yet more of our military into yet another country and make things worse only because we think we are helping. I say, that instead of militarizing a country we must educate ourselves about the real issues.
First of all, the land, the Alcholi people of northern Uganda have been driven out of their lands and into refugee camps. About 90 percent of them have been moved to refugee camps in the last 26 years. In these camps many of the refugees have either died of starvation, disease, or suicide, but the government claims that it is not displacing these people of their lands but protecting them from the LRA. American Black Star News Editor Milton Allimadi, cited documents attributed to President Museveni and American Todd David Whitmore which show that the president has always been eyeing the Acholi land for merchandised agriculture. But in recent years the interest in this land has been intensified because of the rich oil fields discovered in the region.
Second, let’s address the refugee problems. The disease rate in these refugee camps is beyond control. Nodding disease is an illness that has claimed at least 170 lives and has infected at least 3,000 children since 2009. Plus this disease has not been categorized as epilepsy or any other known sickness therefore they cannot find the cure. The illness has not spread to other parts of Uganda and affects children raging up to age 15. This disease is a horrific illness that eats away at the brain, causes seizures, convulsions, and starts with the nodding of the head, hence the name. Children with the disease lose the ability to speak and do not react to outside stimulus.
Although this disease posseses a bigger problem than the LRA it does not get any publicity at all. In fact most people are oblivious to this tragedy.
Now there is an upside to the propaganda caused by Invisible Children, the “transmedia activism,” or the storytelling across multiple media platforms that calls for people to get involved. It is great to have people involved and to take notice, however, I think this media communication challenges us all with the responsibility to became aware of facts. Just because someone tells us this is true does not mean we blindly follow without proper information. Get educated about the matter, do research, and read a couple of books, then make your own judgment, and please do not belittle or commercialize the suffering of a people by ignoring the real problems they pose. If activism is what you want, then intervene by asking what we have done as consumers to aid the land wars? How as US citizens are we letting the military stop the “War on Terror” only to secure their precious oil resources?
Like stated before, the problems in Uganda have existed since mid-1980 and it is not until now that new light is shed on the issue. And I agree with Invisible Children, we are responsible to change these situations but please do not become their complicit in making matters worse!