Posts Tagged

Africa

Much has been said of the viral Kony 2012 campaign, ‘a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous… to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice’. The last page of the Invisible Children Kony 2012 action booklet reads, ‘Joseph Kony is the worst living criminal…He remains at large because he is invisible to the world. Few know his name, even fewer know his crimes. This year we are making Joseph Kony famous, because when he is, the world will unite for justice and demand his arrest’. The Campaign The campaign kicked off with the release of a (painfully narcissistic) 30-minute film that grossly oversimplifies the conflict and the actors. …

Social media has contributed to some of the largest political events of the last couple of years. It aided the Arab Spring, has been a constant thorn in the side of the Chinese authorities, has given Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad slight cause for concern, and it helped to organise the less-constructive London riots. The latest social media innovation is KONY 2012 by the advocacy group “Invisible Children.” The campaign, which went viral this week, is aimed at stopping Joseph Kony, the Ugandan-born leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. The immediate relevance of this campaign has nothing to do with the issue itself, but with the response that it has received. My own knee-jerk reaction when I noticed that a …

The institutions of the United Nations are slaves to the objectives of Western powers, and these powers are determined to make Africa an appendage to the West. Or so Thabo Mbeki claims. Mbeki, the former president of South Africa and the founding chairperson of the African Union, made these comments in a recent speech deploring what he termed the ‘re-colonisation’ of Africa. Mbeki went on to suggest that recent armed interventions in Africa were representative of the West’s willingness to exploit the universal principles of democracy, human rights and good governance to further their material interests. Re-colonisation is an idea that by now suffers from severe intellectual fatigue. The harshness of Mbeki’s terms of reference is reminiscent of the ramblings …

Margot Wallstrom, the United Nation’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, referred to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as ‘the rape capital of the world’. If my Google search was any indication (registering a disturbing 4,640,000 hits for the term), the sensationalist phrase stuck among members of the civil society and aid agencies in the Global North. The eastern DRC has alternately been described as ‘the worst place in the world for women’ by The Guardian and ‘hell’ by American feminist playwright Eve Ensler. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called rape in the DRC ‘evil in its bases form’ during a visit to the region in 2009.  There is something to be said about the damaging …

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltaire. Over Christmas I visited Boston and had the occasion to walk the famous freedom trail: 3 miles of sights commemorating American independence. As I walked this hallowed ground I pondered on those fighting for freedom today, in the streets of Cairo, Homs and Tunis. Having met some of these people, I wondered at the suspicion we direct at the Islamic parties now gaining power, as if we forgot our own history. American democracy was born of Puritan principles of self-government, but that did not prevent it from evolving into the (more or less) secular body it is today.  Ignoring this …

‘Resource control is a right. It is not a privilege’ -A member of a peaceful youth rally in the Niger Delta, from the film Sweet Crude. In the first couple of minutes of the opening of the film, Sweet Crude, director, Sandy Cioffi, discloses, ‘this is not the movie I intended to make’.  She had travelled to the Niger Delta to film the building the Niger Delta Friendship Library, which was to serve as a ‘symbol of peace’ in the region. While traveling, visiting and listening to local voices, the true value of this library as an empty symbol was revealed. Sandy says, the ‘reality of their lives are far more complex than a community library. Knowing them would change …

When Boko Haram killed nearly 70 civilians over the Christmas holidays, many observers in the Western media were quick to chalk it up to wanton Islamic extremism. The attacks, it was concluded, reflected global jihadist activity. Emphasis was placed on the group’s links to al Qaeda. This narrative is shortsighted. For one, it ignores Christian retaliation just days later, including the bombing of a madrasa that injured seven. More broadly, it decontextualizes the violence. Nearly 500 Nigerians were killed in the northeast in 2011 due to sectarian conflict. Suicide attacks, car bombings, and assassinations-by-machete have been documented throughout the country, Africa’s most populous and the linchpin of Western engagement with the continent. Such killings are not new to Nigeria: religious strife has been a constant for decades, …

Tony Blair’s establishment of the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) has been lauded by reporters and bloggers as being indicative of a “new” way for the international community to engage with African countries to assist in poverty reduction and to move “beyond aid” by “attract[ing] sustainable investment” to the continent. While the tenets of Blair’s AGI are fairly clear — focusing on strengthening African leadership and good governance and boosting economic growth through sustainable development of infrastructure — a visit to the AGI website is less than clear on how the initiative will (or can) ensure the necessary good governance. The AGI model can be summarized as: Leadership (founded on skills, systems and structures)  + prioritisation  + planning  + performance management  …