You heard it Saturday afternoon straight from Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. The fallacies perpetuated by the Kony 2012 video made great media fodder but led to a mischaracterization of the Ugandan political environment. "Uganda is not in conflict," he said. On the contrary, "Uganda is a modern developing country, which enjoys peace, security and stability." But, wrapped up in all the he-said, she-said Mbabazi, ever the true politician, committed the same error he accused Invisible Children of -- glamorization and making things up.
Mbabazi may not have asked people to support IC's keyboard activism, which urges supporters to brandish wristbands, blow up Facebook feeds or launch 160-character twitter attacks, but he hoped to rally support for his less-than-principled goal of maintaining the burgeoning Ugandan tourist industry. Pointing to travel guide company Lonely Planet's decision to name Uganda the best country to visit in 2012, Mbabazi ignored his country's problems, which currently threaten the "peace, security and stability" of which he is so proud.
"Joseph Kony has not based his criminal organization in Uganda since 2006," Mbabazi said, but who needs Kony when the Ugandan government so graciously offered, at least in the past, to reinforce the foundation of his criminal infrastructure for him. Answering Kony's war with a genocide in Northern Uganda and his use of child soldiers with their own dubious outsourcing of combat personnel, the Ugandan government has long been spilling blood. I imagine Mbabazi would struggle to fit that message onto a wristband, however, and he certainly did not address it during the nine minute YouTube response he released Saturday.
"Joseph Kony is not in Uganda," Mbabazi said, but a recent disease, which Reuters reports affects 3,000 Ugandan children, most certainly is. Symptoms of the endemic "nodding syndrome" neurological and vision problems, and seizures characterized by convulsive nodding. And, just as the search for Kony continues fruitlessly, the search for a treatment for a disease which disproportionately affects children between 5 and 15 has yet to be identified. So while we wait for Lonely Planet's advice about the top tourist spots in Kampala, we should also consider consulting them about the top treatments for an untreatable disease.
Mbabazi also failed to warn the people whose tickets may not be valid to view his response via "Uganda 2012" -- homosexuals. The "Kill the Gays" bill looks to criminalize homosexuality by making it punishable by lifetime imprisonment and, up until last month, death. Parliament member David Bahati proposed the bill in 2009, which includes, in order of appearance, "aggravated homosexuals," "homosexual offenders" and last, but not least "same-sex couples," who, while coming in last, may still win a 14-year sentence in prison for their efforts. And there is no way to escape the spotlight, because even Ugandan homosexuals outside of Uganda would be answerable to the Ugandan government. So while Mbabazi does not think that Uganda is a country in conflict, I doubt that gay rights activist David Kato, who was murdered last year in Uganda by a gay-fearing Christian man, spent his life protesting against nothing.
The problems facing Uganda certainly stretch beyond the four-year-old ones raised by Invisible Children in the Kony 2012 video, which does not summarize the entire plot. Uganda has developed way beyond the outdated portrayal in the Kony 2012 video. Lonely Planet may have been right when it said Uganda is "the best of everything the continent has to offer packed into one small but stunning destination," but Mbabazi was wrong when he disregarded the bad things the country suffers from too. But, since we cannot "dislike" or "detweet" or "ignore," the state of Uganda, we can only comment.
Follow Kaz Komolafe on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@kazkomolafe