The Dark, Dark Continent

Amidst the growing social media craze Kony 2012, I like the good journalism student I am, have begun to seek what it is that defines a campaign of any nature’s validity: knowledge.

Now I admit, I’m yet to learn anything of deep interest regarding the legitimacy of the charity Invisible Children. Nor have I gained any more of an insight into the ‘Weird and Wacky world of Jason Russel’, despite a lovely and informative article on one of my favourite Australian newspaper’s website.

However I have been drawn whole heartedly to the stories of atrocities happening not just in Sudan and Uganda, but Africa as a whole and the last documentary I watched really resonated with me.

The film was created by the team at ‘Vice Guide to Travel’, a youth media company who I’ve since developed a bit of a cyber-infatuation with and who you can find at the following website: http://www.vice.com/en_au/travel.

I’ll also include a link to the particular video I plan to talk about, however I must advise you that there are several incredibly disturbing scenes and references made throughout.

My best mate had mentioned the film before and being an intelligent and open minded person I remember being intrigued at just how shocked he had been by the film. Yet as the months since my first real encounter with the country Liberia went by, I rarely, if ever, came across anything in the media about this apparently completely war torn West African nation.

Enter Kony 2012 and all of a sudden Africa is the western world’s priority number one. Obama has vowed to bring the US troops home from Iraq after what he has deemed a ‘mission accomplished’, so where now can the sword of justice be swung by the great saviour of the world – the west?

Cue a well thought out media campaign and the brilliant use of putting a face to the evils going on in the Dark Continent and we have the middle class youth of the west vs. Joseph Kony in a battle royal to save Uganda.

I’m not trying to bash the Kony 2012 campaign. I too posted the YouTube video on Facebook and am still very open to the idea of supporting the night of poster distribution. I’m simply seeking to better understand the situation in Central Africa currently and the effectiveness of such a campaign before I pledge my allegiance one way or another.

However this is not the purpose of this article. Rather the Kony 2012 campaign’s incredible publicity and support has bewildered me when looking at what’s happening in the rest of Africa and the world. Why has this campaign, to stop this one man, been marketed as some kind of miracle solution to Africa’s civil unrest and poverty, when there are, as quoted in the Vice Guide to Liberia film, ‘some of the worst slums and poorest regions in the world’ in neighbouring countries such as Liberia? Not to mention children soldiers drinking the blood of innocent babies before battle, cannibalism and a lack of support and infrastructure in the aftermath of the civil war, which ended in August 2003.

It’s so hard to propose any sort of solution to the terrible problems going on all over Central and West Africa and in terms of an attempt of doing something, massive high fives all round to the team at Invisible Children. However there are massive multinational organisations like the UN which could also use funding and aid in their campaigns which spread across a vast number of countries.

All I’m saying is open your eyes and do the research before committing to any one cause. Or if nothing else for fucks sake please at least invest the time to have a look at what’s happening to human beings like you and I around the world.

Then consider just how bad things really are the next time you miss the early train home from work or can’t afford the latest iGadget.

Here’s a link to the Vice Guide to Liberia film, remember its pretty heavy stuff but worth a look: http://www.vice.com/en_au/the-vice-guide-to-travel/the-vice-guide-to-liberia-1.

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