#67 ~ Hype

It takes over. It’s gone viral. This sense of being part of something, leaving a handprint in the sands of history that we hope will solidify as a memento, but which we know will disappear as a new wind carrying a new story blows its way over our ‘pause for thought’. We are built, as human beings, to be relational, to be inter and intra relational. Even though we profess the desire to be individuals, we crave unity. That is why we live within nation boundaries, form communities, search for establishments of bondage and familiarity. We want to be part of something, to know that we didn’t just drift by but we had our words heard, our voices were used and a change was elicited.

But real impact comes from years of study. A successful war is often won in the same way one wins a game of chess. You study the pieces, you study the board, you study your opponent but must importantly – you study yourself. You find out how you work, what makes you tick, the patterns of your mind, how you react, how you think and un-think. And when you’ve mastered your conscious, you prepare to overpower theirs. Yet study is the key. Because if you don’t study yourself, and study the battlefield, then you’ll take the feint, you’ll assume a different scenario and you’ll find yourself fighting a battle you weren’t aware had begun.

Yes KONY2012 has taken over our lives. It’s spread itself like an expanding octopus over every facet of the social media world, and is sucking anything not related to it into a void of censoring ink. You can’t avoid it, and though I feel like doing so, I won’t. But I’m not going to rush blindly into it either. I’ve seen enough short film appeals to not have the emotional whip tear grooves into my human-rights-sensitive heart – believe me, i expect to be making films or writing articles on such matters very soon. In terms of emotional or information fulfilment, KONY2012 falls short. What stands behind its pervasive power is the sheer number of ‘Facebook shares.’ People are watching it because when they log onto their homepage they can’t escape it. Having the video as a status update has become the norm, so those of us that don’t feel excluded, and considering as humans we want to be included in this ‘global community’ we also click attending and share, telling everyone else to get ‘in’ on it.

But what are we getting ‘in’ on. How many of us have independently gone off and researched the history of Northern Uganda. Who knows what the LRA stands for. Who knows when it was formed, why, which countries it operates in? Who knows who Kony’s right hand man is? Are we really that concerned about child soldiers which have been the norm in every global conflict since the term was coined – At 16 people were allowed to fight in the World Wars, but i guess they weren’t child soldiers then… Are we really concerned with children being abducted from their homes, or does being forcefully conscripted sound better? Is that also a violation of human rights? Do we really care about girls being taken as slaves and prostitutes – no one seems to mind too much in Soho.

I’m not saying these things aren’t serious. My word they are. But I’m asking why now? We may have been ignorant about Kony, but we weren’t ignorant about the standard issues that are surrounding this conflict. By the way – does anyone know what this conflict is about? What started it, and who, apart from Kony, is involved? No? This is the hype I’m talking about.

Are we convicted by the injustice of children being forced to kill? If we are then this protest needs to move away from the man and focus on the issue. Are we convicted by the fact that world powers are only interested when their country’s welfare is affected? If so, then we need to not just be canvassing the American Politicians and ‘Culture Makers’ but all politicians. We need to be challenging our Foreign Policy and the way our ‘democratic’ systems are run at the expense of ‘the dispossessed third world.’ Are we interested in stopping Kony,  or rehabilitating the hundreds of thousands of child-soldiers and prostitutes, many of whom are now adults and key members in the LRA and other affiliated or tributary militia groups. Kony is neither the beginning nor the end. He is simply a by-product of years of ignorance and apathy. And he isn’t alone. What plan does KONY2012 have in mind once he’s been captured, if he’s captured?

What will you  do once the Facebook hype dies down? When April 20th passes by with a sprinkling of rain? After you’ve worn your bracelet, which is similar to the Make Poverty History – do you know where yours is, is it still an issue for you, have we made it History, do you support a charity, or did the white plastic arm band just seem like the ‘in’ thing at the time?

Don’t join the band wagon of propaganda because thousands of other people are sharing an expensively made well shot video. We criticise people who profess having a belief in God simply because 2 thousand years of human history or more has believed in a God. So why are we professing a desire to stop Kony – and not the many other dictator/militia people like him the world over – simply because thousands of people clicked ‘like.’

Let’s do some research, sit back and ask some questions. Because when the Hype dies down, in 2 months, 6 months, a year, a decade from now, those child soldiers, those militia men will still be fighting, recuperating and suffering from what they experience today, now. But you will have forgotten. His name is Jacob, he is from the Acholi tribe in Northern Uganda. He wanted to be a lawyer. Did you remember that?

It’s more than Kony. This is about you.

(A post assessing the work of Invisible Children and the Kony 2012 movement is coming tomorrow.)

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5 thoughts on “#67 ~ Hype

  1. Seamus says:

    Beautiful analysis of all this. I appreciate the article on invisible children is coming later, but as an innovation, do you think FB philanthropy has mileage in it as a force for good, or are the limitations due to the lack of real engagement with FBookers and the issues too big an issue to overcome?

    • Kéhindè says:

      Thank you. I think one of the difficulties with Facebook is that innately we are all invisible. Even though we have profile pictures there isn’t an acute and defined sense of identity. When we post on Facebook we are posting into the void hoping someone reads it, whereas when we speak to people there is a tangible sense of contact and communication fulfilled. So, although Facebook has been incredible for getting mileage on this issue and pushing it around the world, i think it fails to make an intimate impact on people’s lives and forces what should be a generational wake up call and movement, into the same domain as a ‘poke’ or funny video. And that is dangerous. Unless those of us who watch and share it take the interest beyond the realms of the cyber world, the protest and movement will ultimately fall short, and when people bring it up again the response will be – didn’t we solve this last year? haven’t we done enough status updates, which is the same response we have when appeals for drought in eastern africa emerge annual. We may end up forgetting Kony and these Invisible Children are real people who exist in a world that has different rules to the cyber world we delve into. I think that is an underlying danger that in the hype of being ‘part of history’ could be lost, and makes worry.

  2. adeboye says:

    Thank you once again for stepping aside and refusing to be swept byt the tsunami of public outrage. I had no intention of seeing this video and now will definitely not.

    • Kéhindè says:

      I think the wave is very forceful and dominant, but i think we have a choice when to step in its path. The difficulty however, which is why i think when the hype has died down you should watch the video, is that there are people who will pre-emptively step towards the wave, and there are others who will look at the nature of it, predict its course, and step into the future path of the wave. Either way, if it isn’t this issue, it will be one like it that we won’t be able to avoid, but i think we have to learn how to accommodate and ultimately dominate it. Watch the video at some point, formulate your ideas, because i think the internal subject is important, but the external presentation is misleading.

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