PWRDF and Kony

There has been a lot of hype and attention paid to Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army through social and main-stream media over the last few weeks.  PWRDF’s CIDA Program Coordinator, Zaida Bastos, wrote this entry detailing PWRDF’s involvement in the region working with African partners to enact responses to the challenges facing the region.

PWRDF in the nineties and early 2000’s worked with the Church of Uganda on this issue. Charlotte Maxwell, PWRDF’s Eastern and Southern Africa Program Coordinator funded and provided guidance to the Church of Uganda on this issue. Charlotte helped the CoU to set-up their Human Rights Program which led to the Church of Uganda to develop strategies for church involvement in advocacy and actions in the Acholi region including resettlement centres for people that escaped from the LRA. Acholi Bishops were very active in addressing this issue and there was even a mission to Canada about the LRA. Another Canadian organization that was very active was World Vision. There was a network of Canadian NGOs throughout the nineties and early 2000’s just addressing this issue.

What the video misses is the African leadership in dealing with the issue and Ugandan’s ability to find solutions by themselves. It gives the impression that the Africans/Ugandans were silent and Invisible Children are the ones taking action. It is very disempowering to Africans to see that. Charlotte who knew very well the situation once said to me, not necessary word by word: “This is not a simple situation. Acholi Partners say that the LRA has brought the conflict into the family and sometimes it is difficult to name the good and bad guys. “ It meant that the situation is not black and white. The greys are so much more important. It is also important to say that this is a regional problem with many layers. Kony has been chased out of Uganda. However, the conflict in the Great Lakes region provides the LRA the space to continue to operate. It is also important to note that during its peak, the LRA had more than 30,000 children soldiers. Today the number is reduced to a thousand or so. While one child soldier is one too many, we need to recognize the effort made by Africans to get down to this number.

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  1. Danielle Benoiton, North Bay
    Posted April 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    I am sad to see the backlash against this movement’s success. Although I recognize there were limitations, I feel that many individuals supported this with good intentions. The young man who made the video does not claim to have it all figured out, but rather says, “we have to start somewhere”. The current outcome of this story supports a lot of apathy and inaction, saying “look at these people, They don’t know what they are doing. Don’t get active, leave the action to us experts.” I think this is a very very bad message! The other thing that really saddens me about this whole thing is the final outcome of a crisis in mental illness, sealing the man’s discredit. I am a mental health professional. Is this how we treat people? Does no one remember that other important leaders have had breaks into madness in the midst of this kind of effort? Does this mean our actions should be abandoned. I for one will be praying hard for this young man on Friday April 20th. I hope he will survive this and come out a better partner in the struggle against evil in Africa and the world.

    • Simon Chambers
      Posted April 16, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you, Danielle! This is a complex issue, and there are really strong arguments on both sides. What we tried to focus on here was that people in Uganda and other countries in the region- working on their own behalf with support from people in the developed world- have been addressing the issue of Kony (and many others) for decades.

      There is a real need for people in Canada and the US to become active in justice issues. How that engagement happens is a source of much debate in the industry, and there is no perfect solution. That being said, I think your solution- prayer- is one of the best out there. I will join you in prayers on April 20 and any other time- prayer for Invisible Children, for the people affected by the LRA, and for all living in situations of injustice, fear, and illness.