Looking For Love, In A Hopeless Place?

Looking For Love, In A Hopeless Place?

My attention to this Kony2012 saga has finally gotten a boost, or should I say a brain job, now that Rihanna is on board, with a possibility of being featured in the Invisible Children’s kit. I’m not referring to another remake of We’re The World, well, more like We’re The Invisible Children — but I’m talking about Rihanna baring it all picture in the kit, of course for a good course, no pervert. But since I heard about Rihanna’s act of ‘breastvery’, I have been having flashbacks of Salma Hayek’s breastfeeding that African baby. Is that what Rihanna had in mind, breastfeeding Kony? But even if it means teasing him out of the bushes, it will be of great help. After all, why bomb him with the weapons of mass destruction, when we can lure him out of his hiding place with a pair of Weapons of Mass Seduction.

But before my breastfeeding theory caught steam, I remembered what Mr. Cole said about Invisible Children’s Campaign and its sentiment of “white savior industrial complex”. I found myself thanking Jesus my savior, who also happens to be white, for pointing me to Mr. Cole’s direction, because I was about to make a fool of myself. Mr. Cole’s “white savior industrial complex” belief is echoed throughout the continent. This sentiment is not too different from Rihanna’s baring it all charity work. It carries the same idea, that we Africans are helpless people, waiting to be saved, only this time by Rihanna’s breasts. How much can the complexity of this Kony situation be emphasized, and that Rihanna’s breasts won’t solve the problem, let alone turn Uganda to a land of milk and honeys. We refuse to be poked fun of by Rihanna, or even convinced by a bunch of privileged San Diego surfing kids, that even the 1% have souls, and they can feel our pain, something that most of our African leaders themselves know a lot about.

The level of disrespectfulness seems to rise to new heights by the day. However, the question remains, when will they learn to respect Africans? This somewhat contradicts my belief on respect. It’s earned and not demanded. For example, the invisible children crisis is so bad, as portrayed by the documentary, to have earned itself Rihanna’s bare chest points. But if we would have demanded her to go topless, sexual assault charges would have definitely been handed out like foreign aid. And similar to the possibility of jail time for sexual assault, foreign aid has kept us locked up. Dambisa Moyo, the author of “Dead Aid”, knows it all too well. Maybe we ought to pick up Nyerere’s books on Ujamaa and Self Reliance and read them, soon after we have finished watching the Kony2012 documentary — instead of engaging ourselves in arguments and debates about which came first, the egg or the chicken. We cannot continue to shit on ourselves, and then be surprised why there is an army of flies whistling behind us, as they check out our rear end. Once we earn the respect, the flies will eventually fly somewhere else in search of shittier pastures.

Nevertheless, charity definitely starts at home, and should start with us cheering for King Muswati’s bare chested girls over Rihanna. They would probably do a better operation in luring Kony out of the bushes than Ms. Rhi Rhi. But how much do we value our own? Hardly. And to what extent do we recognize and support each other?

I know I’m also suffering from patriotism deficiency. For example, I had not heard of Betty Bigombe until recently. She’s said to have led the efforts to get Kony to surrender for years. But how many politicians like her are out there today? How much support has she received in her efforts to get Kony? When was the last time you tweeted her name, or even wrote her name in that facebook status box that asks us, ‘what’s on your mind’. The tendency of valuing others over ourselves is common. In Tanzania for example, how many local scientists do we know, or those who have been recognized or even having their inventions supported by the Government? I’m even convinced that we had viagra before viagra was viagra with all the herbs that we’re blessed to have!

We left others to discover viagra, now it’s us who are being screwed over, again and again. Look how long colonialism has screwed us over. It went from colonialism to neocolonialism. Invisible Children is just another neocolonialism exploiting machine. But haven’t we been guilty ourselves of exploiting the AIDS crisis, and even exploiting the street kids and those who are orphans for our own benefit? We understand capitalism very well, and we practice it, but we plea ignorant of it, when we have been outsmarted. Invisible Children have been around for years, now all of a sudden we’re calling for its public execution? Well, it may just be too little too late I’m afraid, because samaki mkunje angali mbichi…

I also fear the Invisible Children organization has grown too big and too influential, especially in these past few days, to just go down without a good fight. However, its privileged army of children may not be as strong as Invisible Children Campaign wants us to believe, because even them, they are Waiting For Superman to save them. Therefore, it’s unfair of us to expect these kids to be able to answer such difficult and complex questions, like ‘where is Uganda on the map’. What about you, can you point out where Kony is on the map? This makes me feel like we’re picking fights with a bunch of kids in the playground, rather than confronting the real bullies, the US Government and its desire to have a military base in Africa, for the purpose of quenching its oil thirst.

What about our leaders who entertain such destructive investments. Mr. Branch says it best, “The US government would be pursuing this militarization with or without Invisible Children — Kony 2012 just makes it a bit easier. Therefore, it is the militarization we need to worry about, not Invisible Children.”

At this point, whether Kony comes out after seeing Rihanna or not, the guy is now a star, and we all want to dance with him. Hopefully after invisible children, there will be invisible citizens/youths, an awareness campaign directed towards our leaders, reminding them that we actually exist. This is something even the western critics — who seem to be a lot — of Invisible Children Campaign have failed to realize, that there have been invisible citizens/youths way before invisible children came along. Furthermore, they are not doing anybody any favor, because this Scramble for Africans, between themselves — who feel the need to defend us — and The Invisible Children, is pathetic, if not equally disrespectful to us Africans.

The end of all this mess is unknown, because there isn’t a magic bullet or easy answers to this war that’s occupying East and Central Africa. But we can do one thing, and that is pray that Kony is not lactose intolerance, otherwise things could get really ugly, thanks to Rihanna, who also probably thinks Africa is a hopeless place; therefore, the best place to find love. This same mentality is shared by the rest of the West about Africa as a hopeless place, yet Africa is the same place where they build their wealth with impunity, thanks to our confused priorities.

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Bahati was born and raised in Tanzania, and then moved to California to pursue his college education. He graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a minor in Sociology. Bahati expects to be doing his Masters in African Studies in the near future. He is currently working on starting a t-shirt business and a possible publication of some of his writings. One thing that Bahati cannot live without is music, specifically Hip Hop & Bongoflava which he argues are both the voice of the youth today, and is excited to look into how Bongoflava can be a source of further entrepreneurship among the youth in Tanzania. Bahati believes that Bongoflava can help to reduce poverty in Tanzania, as can a more collective effort among key players.


  1. C. Brown II 7 years ago

    “How much can the complexity of this Kony situation be emphasized, and that Rihanna’s breasts won’t solve the problem, let alone turn Uganda to a land of milk and honeys.” LOL That’s right on point right there. People gettin up in arms about a film that holds very little cultural significance. Those people should read this post twice and see why it’s not just about the glitter and glam of what looks cool, but these problems have lasted for much longer and have had much deeper an impact than Invisible Children cares to show its audience.

  2. Anonymous 7 years ago

    Very, very solid piece!

    On the other hand, what about those who think: “At least ‘they’ are doing something to bring the matter to people’s attention”? As in, there is no such thing as a bad press… Well, as far as I am concerned, it seems ‘pop culture’ (read: majibu rahisi kwa maswali magumu) is taking over, sadly.

    I couldn’t stop LOL’ing @ “Hello Mr Kony… xoxo Rhi Rhi”

  3. all6usto 7 years ago

    Yeah, Finally a decent opposition to the mainstream
    fairytale widespread [fastly we may add].
    I think that if we can learn something from all of this, it would be that parents should at least know what their teenage kids do while on the internet.
    and perhaps that americans deserve a far better governement than the one they´ve been learning to adore.
    > the whole thing here in Brazil hasn´t actually been on the news…
    Good I guess…

  4. Anonymous 7 years ago

    Wow!!! This is indeed a very solid piece!

  5. Anonymous 7 years ago

    “invisible children” Is this just a front that the US government is using in having a military base in Africa? “for the purpose of quenching its oil thirst.” we have problems then, because like the writer says with or without invisible children, The US government will be pursuing its militarization! Kony 2012 is just making it easier. What can we do to value ourselves first instead of others, we need to do something!

  6. Turi 7 years ago

    @anon1: Sure, no such thing as bad press, but talk about raising the bar when you’re six feet under. What difference is it really making apart from a lot of noise in the public sphere?

  7. Ahmed 7 years ago

    Great piece my man. I think claiming responsibility for President Obama sending the military advisers/special ops/CIA or whatever they are called was far fetched. One thing I have to admit is that from a social media and campaigning perspective, Jason Russel was flawless. When you have everyone talking about you, even if they are criticizing you, I think you pretty much won the battle.

  8. Jack D 7 years ago

    Interview with Joseph Kony from 2006: http://youtu.be/dWiF9hSgyoU

  9. Jack D 7 years ago

    Another critique, though this one goes beyond just critiquing Invisible Children to critiquing other actors like TED, Kristof and Sachs who make up what is called The White Savior Industrial Complex: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/the-white-savior-industrial-complex/254843/

    One quote that attempts to draw a bigger picture: “What Africa needs more pressingly than Kony’s indictment is more equitable civil society, more robust democracy, and a fairer system of justice.”

  10. Turi 7 years ago

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