There has been much coverage this week of the controversy surrounding Invisible Children’s video about the Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and the plight of child soldiers.
Here are 2 links to what some Africans (a missing voice) have to say about the video, Invisible Children, and Kony:
These critiques are particularly helpful on a variety of levels as we try to understand our role (as people from the US) on these issues. One of the most provocative responses (found in the above link) is the following:
• Award-winning Nigerian-American novelist and photographer Teju Cole published an inspired set of tweets today on sentimentality toward Africa by Americans. “From Sachs to Kristof to Invisible Children to TED, the fastest growth industry in the US is the White Savior Industrial Complex,” Cole writes. “The white savior supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening.”
Ouch. The truth hurts(?).
For those of us in the US who do work in/on/for/with Africa, these critiques can serve as “tools” in our own tool boxes. What lessons can we learn? As outsiders to Africa, how can we be most effective? No easy answers. But educating ourselves, engaging in this discussion, and being self-reflexive are valuable steps.