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Teacher in Uganda: Why give celebrity status to a killer in Kony 2012?

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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?”

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