A scene from the play, Silent Voices, currently on show at the National Theatre in Kampala. Photo Image: Alfajiri Productions
Silent Voices, a new play at the National Theatre in Kampala, questions the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation in Northern Uganda. The rhetoric in the last couple of years about Northern Uganda has focused on the forgiving nature of the people — and thus on how reconciliation will successfully remove the stench of the long and terrible war against the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Ugandans watching Kony 2012 in Lira town. Photo image:STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images
The Kony 2012 film has stirred up a huge amount of controversy and discussion. One of its most interesting side effects is the way that it has provided us Ugandans with an opportunity to recapture our own narrative.
In Uganda, there is a continuing drive to rewrite the historical narrative of the country. There is a need to challenge the official narrative that has been in place since the current regime came into power in 1986. This version of our past mostly views the government solely as a savior, hardly mentioning the gross violations of human rights for which it bears responsibility. People are beginning to ask questions regarding the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict, and the survivors are beginning to tell their stories of what really happened.
The image above shows an LRA victim in Lira responding to the screening. Photo credit: Al Jazeera
Since the Kony 2012 video went viral, the commentary hasn’t stopped. We have criticized the film, praised it, even satirized it. Invisible Children has the whole world talking. But one key question has gone unanswered: What do people in northern Uganda think about the video?
Last evening, there was a screening of the video in Lira, one of the areas most affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) during the days of the war. It was a chance to hear from Ugandans who actually went through the LRA conflict, to hear what they think about the video and how their stories are being told to the world. So this film screening was important precisely because it gave the people who have actually borne the brunt of the conflict a chance to weigh in. Their voices needed to be heard.
The Kony2012 advocacy campaign by Invisible Children has gone viral. It’s successfully changed the scope of humanitarian marketing. It’s also a film rife with half-truths.
Kony2012 falsely insinuates that Uganda is still at war. That night commuters are still in Uganda. That Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army are the only sources of atrocity in the region. That white people, especially Americans, are going to solve the problem.
First published in the Boston Globe, Saturday 19, November 2011
FILE 2006/ASSOCIATED PRESS: Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony is the head of a group considered responsible for many atrocities.
UGANDANS GREETED President Obama’s decision last month to deploy 100 US military advisers to central Africa to assist in the manhunt for rebel leader Joseph Kony with mixed feelings. Immediately, social media outlets were abuzz with the fear that the United States was only interested in Uganda’s nascent oil sector. Continue reading →
Everything is slow at the start of the semester and then it all piles up at once. It suddenly feels like I bumped into the class work. I am talking about my class in Creative Responses to Crises and Conflicts. I was still trying to make sense of the course requirements before it dawned on me that my mid-term proposal was due. We had to make presentations of a crisis we have identified and the intervention we had designed. It was not to be perfect but it was to challenge our minds to think out of the box. That has become a cliché now. One wonders if thinking inside the box will be the NEW IT.