Last week I accompanied Matti on a kindergarten excursion to a beekeeper. The kids were happy and ignored their parents so we got talking. Soon it’s holiday season again, foreign countries are a favorite topic. One of the dads, a photographer, who left Zimbabwe for South Africa twenty years ago, said he especially admired the Swiss immigration policy. „Every country should just shut it’s borders the way you do, and look after itself.“ Thankful for the kids, I let myself be distracted and wandered off; it being neither the time nor place for a serious discussion that would leave me angry and upset (and hopefully the other guy, too). After watching the KONY 2012 film, I do have the arguments ready at hand for the next time I’m confronted with thoughtless and stupid statements. And it makes me feel ambivalent towards Switzerland’s much praised neutrality.
Here is the film: KONY 2012
KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children, „that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.“ Yes, I think I can support that. I like the way the campaign focuses on one goal, gives you information, voices and pictures, a hero to admire (poor Gavin, what a brat he’ll need to be as a teenager…) and clear instructions on how to act – best awareness-raising practices. I also believe that politicians need strong nudging when it comes to topics like this. The approach is great, gets my communicator’s heart beating.
But…can I so readily support direct military intervention through the Ugandan government’s army and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, both riddled with accusations of rape and looting themselves?
As Chris Blattman, a political scientist at Yale, writes on the topic of Invisible Children’s programming, “There’s also something inherently misleading, naive, maybe even dangerous, about the idea of rescuing children or saving of Africa. […] It hints uncomfortably of the White Man’s Burden. Worse, sometimes it does more than hint. The savior attitude is pervasive in advocacy, and it inevitably shapes programming. Usually misconceived programming.”
(Taken from: Visible Children)
I also completely agree with that, feeling the urge to act and help every day and also knowing that my idea of help just might not be appropriate, not even sensible. Kony is a monster, and the world will be a better place without him. I do want NGO’s, people, celebrities, politicians, heroes to take action for a better world – and I know arresting somebody like Kony cannot be done with nothing but a peace flag in your hand. And, I am very sure that Uganda, Sudan, the US, or Switzerland can never solve this problem alone.