A Preamble: Why Africa Does Not Develop
There’s no doubt about it: These young people did an amazing job. They took a simple concept, developed it in their own terms and defined the conflict in Northern Uganda for the rest of the world to see. And Uganda was left spinning! It was like the country had been tagged and now had to be ‘it!’ But I am neither a cynic, an apologist nor a pessimist. One has to give credit where credit is due. And vituperative as this might seem, the Government of Uganda ought to have had a much better response to the public relations debacle! To make it worse, not only have the Ugandans thus far [a few days after the video and campaign were released] not come up with an equally powerful response: the issue is still being defined by social media and a different generation of people. The official government response is a little frustrating to watch…and one feels that the Ugandan Government likes to have its supper eaten for itself!
Which brings me to the heart of the matter: Africa cannot develop or progress under these circumstances. No. Issues need to be defined by Africans. While African governments claim not to be in the business of communication, they need to step up their crisis communication units. Interestingly, a great many of them hire public relations firms to respond to international media on this or that issue. However, the essence of public relations is not to window dress. Public relations in the age of social media depends on the spin.
But spin needs to cloak at least a modicum of truth. In the past, you just had to have a semblance or even a whiff of fact. But these days, this is not so. If one looks at the credibility Invisible Children has lost in the past few days, there’s real danger to being a flake. The new video from this organization was slick and cool. However, it was not balanced and as a result, obloquy will follow the video over the rest of its natural life. But to whom much is given, much is expected. And African governments have, honestly, shirked their overall responsibility.
How could the Ugandan government not be held accountable for all that has happened in Northern Uganda for the past 25 years? For those who have seen the video, there was not a mention of who was culpable for all that happened during the Kony years. Either the expectations were too low to warrant a mention or the makers of the worldwide sensation around Kony 2012 were afraid to upset the powers that be. Either way, there is fecklessness in the Ugandan government. The people in power are supposed to be responsible for each and every child. Joseph Kony is a thief in the night and cannot be held responsible for crimes against humanity. He can be considered as criminally insane as those men in the U.S. who mislead people into a cult and then sanction mass suicides. Of course, if they catch him, he ought to face the highest courts of law. But where was the Ugandan government in all this? Did Mr. Museveni not swear an oath to protect all Ugandans? Again, this is at the core of why Africa does not develop: the World has such low expectations of what the governments THERE can do that they’d rather avoid them all together.
Originally published at “The Habari Network”: http://www.thehabarinetwork.com/a-preamble-why-africa-does-not-develop