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On the Kony-Hate Campaign

Nigerian-American novelist and photographer Teju Cole

I’ve been thinking alot about, but haven’t had a chance to fully articulate, why this KONY-hate campaign bothers me so greatly. Because it is a hideous form of neo-colonialism – why of course the face of threat to innocent children must be black! And then white people in the US and elsewhere can swoop in and be the great saviours. Different day, same ugly story. Why are some campaigns, such as this one, deemed more ‘worthy’ of outrage than others? It is an important question.

Of course Kony is terrible, but if on the global scale of things we want to get upset about the threat to children’s well-being there are a number of places worth starting first. Several years ago when it was estimated that half a million children had died as the result of the US/UN sanctions on Iraq, the then US Secretary of State Madeline Albright famously said she believed the price was worth it.

It is vital to ask what African voices have to say about this campaign.  There is a fascinating round up of opinion available here.  My favourite is a series of tweets by Nigerian-American novelist and photographer Teju Cole which includes the following:

The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.

Amen brother.

Thanks to Bring Me the African Guy for the heads up.

Kony, Bailey Kurariki Jr, the Kahui whanau, these are the ‘popular’ and well received images of evil and violence in the West/Aotearoa. Question it. They still seek to colonise our minds… and these guys do a fantastic job of highlighting that.

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