What’s Wrong with the Kony 2012 Campaign? (Original Post)

(Editor’s Note: Go here for the updated version of this post)

By Adam Branch, Makerere Institute of Social Research

March 8, 2012
Kampala, Uganda

From Kampala, the Kony 2012 hysteria is easy to miss. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter, and I don’t watch YouTube—but over the last twenty-four hours, I have received dozens of emails from friends, colleagues, and students in the US about the video by Invisible Children and the massive on-line response to it.

I have not watched the video. As someone who has worked in and done research on the war in northern Uganda for over a decade, much of it with a local human rights organization based in Gulu, the Invisible Children organization and their videos have infuriated me to no end—I remember one sleepless night after I watched their “Rough Cut” film for the first time with a group of students, after which I tried to explain to the audience what was wrong with the film while on stage with one of the filmmakers. Continue reading

Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?* Rethinking the Terms of Faith-Based Humanitarianism

By Jonathan Agensky, University of Cambridge
(This essay is part of a forthcoming scholarly article looking at the microphysics of evangelical humanitarian NGOs.)

Faith-based humanitarianism has become a central means through which Northern groups intervene in the society and politics of African states. As a result, it is of growing interest in academic and policy circles. In this context, evangelical Christians have emerged as one of the most controversial faith-based groupings active within international affairs. Northern-based evangelicals have been regarded with a general mix of optimism, curiosity and skepticism—something made all the more complicated by the heterogeneity of the movement and its surprisingly varied political positions.  However, given its common conflations with particular streams of American social conservatism, there is often a lingering and deep suspicion surrounding various evangelical political and humanitarian interventions. This is amplified by a general unease about faith groups taking an active part in what is typically regarded as the secular domain of international affairs. Continue reading

Tackling election violence

One of the many issues that African NGOs are tackling is election violence — bringing different sides together to prevent it as well as analyzing what happens after the fact.  Here are two reports, one from a new group that is trying to prevent electoral violence in Ivory Coast by creating open debate among political candidates, and another that we have just received from the Nairobi Peace Initiative (Download Citizens in Action CCP) about a citizen’s group that emerged in response to the 2007-2008 electoral violence in Kenya. We look forward to your comments!

“Empowering Citizens through Debates”

by Jean Gondo Tompihé

Observing my country (Côte d’Ivoire or Ivory Coast) at a crossroad, I was preoccupied this past summer by not knowing which story will be told to later generations. Will history record Côte d’Ivoire as the place known as Africa’s melting pot of unity, but then failed to meet some internal challenges and hastily declined into division? Or will it be remembered as the place that faced and overcame these challenges by finding the political audacity to reinvigorate its nation in unity? I reached the conclusion that the answer resides within the quality of the leaders, whether they are up to the task or not.

Continue reading

The politics of donor evaluation requirements: A practitioner’s reflections

By George Wachira, NPI-Africa, based in Nairobi, Kenya

My reflections are from the perspective of a practitioner, having been involved in peacebuilding practice for the last eighteen years. NPI-Africa, the organization I work with, has had for a number of years now the privilege of accompanying organizations, individuals, and communities in peacebuilding in varying contexts in Africa.

It has been apparent to me and to some of my practitioner colleagues that traditional notions of evaluation of peacebuilding initiatives may not be fully appropriate to the peacebuilding endeavor as we understand it, thus raising the challenge for the peace researcher and practitioner communities to come up with methodologies and approaches that resonate well with what is being evaluated.

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Critical Investigations into Humanitarianism in Africa launches its blog

The two posts below start off our blog, which both accompanies and transcends our conference (at UCI on January 16 and 17, 2009) on “Critical Investigations into Humanitarianism in Africa.”

We invite comments on these submissions as well as your own contributions (the latter should be between 500-1200 words) on any aspect of humanitarianism on the continent. Submissions can be theoretical or conceptual, policy related, artistically inspired,
commentaries on current events, or a combination of any of the above.We intend to make this ongoing blog a forum for humanitarians and students of humanitarianism across a wide variety of expertise and disciplines, in Africa as well as the West (and elsewhere). We therefore welcome contact information for additional participants.

We recognize that individual scholarly disciplines, the NGO world, foundations, donors, and policy-makers each have their own vocabularies and terminologies, some of which have become well-known to members internal to the group, some of which are shared among groups, and some of which can be difficult to decipher to those outside a given group. These terms and vocabularies have social and ethical as well as practical implications.We cannot always avoid the use of particular terms, but we can strive to make them understood across discourses wherever possible.Therefore, we also welcome questions and interventions about the meaning and translatability of terms and vocabularies used in debates about humanitarianism in Africa.

To submit a post, contact Tanya B. Schwarz (tschwarz@uci.edu).