The Truth About KONY2012

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Museveni and his regime, who also committed enormous crimes in the northern part Uganda, are being offered an exit route away from accountability, since the new representation of the troubles only points at one culprit - Joseph Kony and his "barbaric gang". 

[Letter To A Facebook Friend]

Dear my FB Friend (name withheld),

Thank you for enquiring on behalf of your son and his schoolmates who have heard of STOP KONY2012 film by Invisible Children, and would like to help.

There is no doubt that the film by Invisible Children has done some real good in educating and empowering your son and others like him to show sympathy and empathy to children of the world who find themselves trapped in war situation; like what happened in Northern Uganda.

That aim has been fantastically achieved by Invisible Children, and no one is faulting them about that. 
I, however, have got to say to you, as I and many other Ugandans, including many local NGO workers who have been operating in the northern part of Uganda throughout the war and many years after have been saying since the STOPKONY2012 film came out--that there are serious misrepresentations and also some intended or unintended consequences of the film project.

These must be spelt out, so that all the children and even adults who are being called upon to assist in can have a clear true picture of the facts and realities into which they are being invited to participate. 
My Friend, we are now all starting to wonder why the filmmakers and many supporters of the project are furiously non-accepting of any concerned voices from Uganda about the misrepresentations in the film and the filmmakers’ blanket support for the American military deployments in the region, which many Ugandans view with suspicion and even distaste.

It is worth noting this may, even in the short and medium term, create an environment where many more Konys are created in Uganda. 
So what are the misrepresentations?

(1)-The war in Northern Uganda ended over six years ago, and Kony has never been active in Northern Uganda since then. 

(2)-What the people in the northern part of Uganda are now faced with is the abject poverty, lack of medicine, illiteracy, incurable diseases like nodding disease, which has killed hundreds of children and infected thousands - most of these problems being a direct result of corruption and poor governance by the current leaders in Uganda. 

(3)-The film mentions nothing about the fact that Uganda government troops also killed, raped, and maimed civilians in the region Indeed on several occasions it was found that the government soldiers would pretend to be Kony rebels and cause deaths for some crazy PR aims.

(4)-And what about the LRA - Kony menace in other regional countries? The film does not show that actually it was a similar type of combined military operation by the Americans and Uganda government in December 2008, when a CIA-led military operation involving a special American-established and armed force - i.e., the Ugandan Special Forces, commanded by Yoweri Museveni's son, Muhozi Kainerugaba, which put an end to two years of inactivity by Kony’s LRA, and also totally wrecked the last hope of a peaceful outcome, which we all hoped would come from the Juba peace talks in Southern Sudan.

When the CIA and Ugandan Special Forces invaded the Garamba National park camp in North-Eastern Congo, where Kony and LRA were officially and openly assembled and camped, as part of the peace talks, Kony had to escape with the few hundreds of his remaining fighters and start to live the same jungle life of looting villages for food, kidnapping young people to carry the food and supplies. They even started to kill those who would resist.

(5)-The conclusion by many observers in regard to that 2008 CIA and Ugandan army attack on Kony’s camp was that it forced Kony and the LRA remnants to resume their fight for survival. Indeed most of the consequent attacks in DRC, Southern Sudan, and now Central African Republic are more to do with a much weakened LRA, trying to escape the wrath of the Ugandan army and now the Americans, and survive each coming day.

Now about the unintended consequences:

I will summarise them here: 
(1) - Uganda's dictator Yoweri Museveni, who is violating the freedoms and human rights of the whole country, and whose regime is very corrupt - with ministers stealing millions which could be used to solve the living nightmare of children in the northern part of Uganda, is being politically, financially and militarily strengthened by the Americans.

The US has set up the Special Forces for Yoweri Museveni, and now Museveni‘s son has been using these forces to clamp down and terrorise the growing pro-democracy Movement in Uganda.  [I am sure you have seen postings here on my Facebook page about this catastrophic situation in Uganda]. 

(2) The military operation against 300 LRA ex-combatants is seen by many Ugandans, especially those campaigning for democracy and political stability, as a diversionary strategy to take away attention from the on-going national struggle for change. 

(3) Museveni and his regime, who also committed enormous crimes in the northern part Uganda, are being offered an exit route away from accountability, since the new representation of the troubles only points at one culprit - Joseph Kony and his "barbaric gang". 

(4) Without democracy and reconciliation in Uganda, as was the case in South Africa, where the minority White South African regime, who committed more grievous crimes than LRA and Kony, were effectively absolved of the crimes against Black Africans, there will be no peace in Uganda, and indeed, as things are going, we may start to see many more Kony-type rebel groups mushrooming to fight the Kampala regime.

(5) Last but not least, while many outsiders think and have the view that Ugandan people are so naive they can't see the wider implications of the deployment of American troops in East and Central Africa, the opposite is true. Many of us in Uganda today, know that it is the American government military that have encouraged Museveni and his regime to continue their militaristic tendencies in the region. 

(6) We know that the Ugandan regime and its military are powerful allies of America in Somalia, and indeed in the Great Lakes region, and now America is seeking to establish its so-called AFRICOM (African Command) Headquarters in Uganda, and continue to build a powerful military alliance involving American soldiers, and the militaries of the East and Central African nations --Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Southern Sudan, DRC, and Central African Republic-- not really and merely to capture Kony, but safeguard and secure the strategic interests of a now declining American Super Power.

(7) While America can argue that its wars in Iraq and elsewhere were about democracy, etc, even a small child will tell you that it was more to do with Middle Eastern Oil. We have seen and heard statements from the US - many of them official, which indicate that the Americans, are not really trusting that they can guarantee their strategic interests --read oil-- in the Middle East anymore.

So the strategic vision of the American political and military thinkers is to shift and try to consolidate American influence in West Africa, and now East and Central Africa, where it is much easier to deal with the existing regimes, and where the locals have no real capacity to force the Americans away, as is the case in the Middle East.

Major oil discoveries have been made in Uganda, Southern Sudan, and the region is bustling with inexhaustible reserves of other mineral resources.

(8) That is what this story is about. There are those who will disagree, and also who will wonder why some Ugandans are criticising a well-meaning organisation like Invisible Children. The truth is this - in this complex world we are living in, the American military and political establishments need and seek to utilise the services of these "modern day missionaries", just as they did during colonial times to achieve their goals.

(9) I challenge everyone to go out there and do some simple research on Invisible Children - you will find that they were among the two or three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who vigorously lobbied in the United States for the American military to be deployed in Uganda and Central Africa. (The other NGOs included Resolve! and The Enough Project).

I appreciate how they have raised awareness about one "evil man" – Joseph Kony. I, however, hold them responsible for the intended or unintended consequences, which may in the long run bring much more damage to my country Uganda than Joseph Kony and his LRA ever would.

Dr. Vincent Magombe is a Ugandan journalist and broadcaster, based in the United Kingdom

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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