I teach and mentor at a leadership and entrepreneurship program at four high schools in Lira, working to rebuild these young people’s self-confidence and ability to chart a better future for themselves and their communities. The students, given an opportunity to develop and learn in peace and security, have been making solid – in some cases tremendous – strides.
Now that progress is threatened by a video on YouTube. Recently, one of the older boys asked me in a low tone, “Madame Angella, could the war come back?” As his teacher and mentor, I felt obliged to assure him. “No, Daniel there is only peace now.”
Even if I am right, Daniel’s question betrays the fear that I am trying hard to help my students overcome. After years of concentrating on his studies, Daniel, like many of his classmates, cannot help but wonder where his efforts will lead.
I must confess to a sense of unease as I watched “Kony 2012.” The video shows children being abducted from their homes in the middle of the night. It portrays a people still mired in a horror put on them by a deranged rebel leader, a group that seemingly remains helpless to build a better future for itself.
It instilled in me a confused mixture of shock and pain. It is an agonizing reminder of a miserable past, but it shows nothing of our progress.
If I can’t explain “Kony 2012” to myself, how can I explain it to my students when they ask of Kony: “You cut off my lips, you cut off my legs, and as punishment you get celebrity status in America?”
Why not make the surviving children famous? Why not highlight those who are working hard to make Uganda better?