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I am a visible child from Northern Uganda. Who are the “Invisible Children”?

Having grown up in Northern
Uganda, Lango sub region to be more specific and studied at St. Mary’s College
Aboke, a school from which Joseph Kony’s rebels abducted 139 girls in ordinary
level, the name Kony is not new to me.
For the 4 years that I spent in
that school (1999-2002), together with other students, I remember praying the
Rosary at the School Grotto on daily basis and in the process, reading out the
names of the 30 girl who had remained in captivity after Sr. Rachelle an
Italian Nun together with a Ugandan teacher John Bosco rescued only 109 of them.
An annual date (10th
Oct) was set aside and dedicated to prayers for all the captives. All we did
on that day, was pray for the girls to be realized from captivity. For all those
four years, I had never heard of an organisation called “Invisible children”A (Was founded later) But all I heard, were the stories from some of the girls and children who had
escaped from captivity. In 2002 alone, I could count the number of days I spent
at school as we kept on going back home because of the threats and rumours from the
villagers around (Abongodero and otwal areas) that the rebels wanted to abduct
more girls.
#Stopkony:
A joke or a wakeup call?
I had traveled to western
Uganda for field work on issues of Maternal health when I first read a tweet using
my mobile phones from @Natabaalo a journalist friend here in Uganda on Tuesday 06/03/2012
with the hash tag (#stopkony). For a moment, I treated it as a joke until I
read many more talking about ‘Uganda’ and ‘Kony’ as topics trending worldwide
on twitter. Being a social media enthusiast, I rushed to facebook to cross
check and find out if a similar discussion was going on.  I was shocked to find a video shared on my
wall by an old girl of St. Mary’s College Aboke (Bernadette Manisula
Nagita
) who works as a communications person with Invisible
Children here in Uganda. This was the message that accompanied the video that
has now gone Viral.

Trusting you will do more
than just watch….help spread the word…..
I watched the video and sent
her my feeback  So what exactly
am I supposed to do with this video? Share? Not me dear.
For the first 5 minutes I had
no idea what the video was about until I later on saw the old images of LRA and
attentively listened.
As the discussion grew on
twitter, I realised that the internet has indeed become part of everyday life
and has played an increasing role in the delivery of news about issues that
concern citizen. Today, a new form of internet journalism –Citizen Journalism
has taken root and many ordinary citizens have learnt how to argument, report
and fact-check videos like #Kony2012.
Just like @RosebellK another
Journalist in Peace & Conflict here in Uganda, I have problems with this video because it not only tarnishes
Ugandan’s image but also undermines the effort that different Governments and
peace lovers like ArchBishop Baptist Odama of Gulu put in, to have peace talks that could
bring this war to an end. It totally portrays the hopelessness of Ugandans to
help themselves out of this situation and the intervention of some Americans who
“care” so much about the plight of the children in Northern Uganda. I tend to
think that it is a one man show video. “Invisible children might be advocating
for a good Cause but used a very wrong Approach” like @jssozi put it.
I hardly doubt that the people
of Northern, Eastern and West Nile regions in Uganda, the most affected
by this war have any idea that a video talking about their plight has gone
viral on the internet. It’s 2012 and the people of Northern and eastern Uganda
are in the post conflict era and re-settling. Why doesn’t the video at least give a
brief  highlight of this current situation rather than threaten the entire globe with out-dated
information? Does “Invisible Children” have an idea what impression of Uganda
has been portrayed to a world that still believes Idi Amin is alive and still terrorising
us? What will happen to our tourism sector?  Below are some of the interesting
reactions;
  • James  Akena: (Reuters PhotoJournalist in Uganda from Gulu)
    reacting to BBC Qn:
What will
happen if Joseph Kony is not killed or captured by December 31st? My government
and its military commanders gave many deadlines for capturing or killing this
madman several times and they failed. Equally these young Americans trying out
to become famous out of sufering of my people will surely fail as well!!! James
Akena.
  • Marcus
    Wagenaar(From Netherlands but working in Uganda)
“To all who have watched the video KONY 2012 that
has made the rounds of the internet: Uganda is a very safe place (I live there)
and was voted top 1 tourist destination for 2012 by Lonely Planet. The Lords
Resistance Army (LRA) was defeated in 2006 and the
Nothern region of Uganda has been stable and safe ever since. (I’ve been
there twice in the last 12 months). And the most important thing: JOSEPH KONY
IS NOT IN UGANDA, I repeat, he is NOT in Uganda. Please don’t let internet
propaganda shape your opinion about a far away country you know nothing about.”
  • James
    Wire(Ugandan)
“InvisibleChildren is
probably paving way for some foreign interests that want 2 monitor Uganda ‘s
oil under the pretext of military aid.”

“The invisible Children effort 2 commercialise
the Kony atrocities is a disgrace to us in Uganda. They must be seeking
relevance. #KONY2012”

Invisible
Children either has to make another video that depicts the real truth and the
real issues or apologize to the people of Uganda and the VISIBLE CHILDREN affected
by war for such a misrepresentation. For now, our focus is on the nodding head disease.