If you ask an African why Jason Russell, Dr. Livingstone avatar and producer of the viral wonder, Kony 2012 which targets the bizarre, child-killing jungle rebel and went bezerk, you will probably get a mysterious smile. His bizarre outbreak of public nakedness and mind-numbing lewdness has been officially described as “a psychotic attack brought on by dehydration and exhaustion.” If only he packed Gatorade and Prozac.
To an African, that looks suspiciously like a witch doctor, a night dancer, traditional sorcerer, inyanga or whatever you choose to call him, put a nasty spell on him. Maybe there was also a little muti thrown into his veggie burger.
(TMZ just published an interview with an African who claims that Kony is a voodoo witch doctor.)
So if you want to call it psychiatry, go ahead. Either way, it worked and Africa finally has a world class technology it can call its own.
So isn’t it about time we let the subcontinent do things their way, because whatever we have done, really hasn’t helped.
84 million people watched the Kony 2012 video on YouTube. Most were appalled and wanted to do something about it. Most were not African or even African American.
In fact, the government of Uganda was so offended it put out its own video criticizing Kony2012. The Africans street either shrugged it off as old news or saw it as an indirect insult. Hence the witch doctor attack.
We may never be able to prove this, of course but witch doctors pervade their consciousness anyway. Traditional healers – the “board certified” version of this kind of profession – are everywhere in Africa. South Africa, arguably the most westernized, has over 65,000 registered traditional healers and many, many are unregistered.
What does it mean when 84 million people think they were doing God’s work while most Ugandans were simply offended? Should it be up to George Clooney to represent the poor people of nearby Darfur and get arrested along with his smiling dad - or should that be Denzell Washington along with Will Smith?
Why is Nick Kristoff touring the battle fields of the Congo decrying the killing of 6 million Africans when Henry Louis Gates would rather talk African Encyclopeadias and disrespectful cops in Massachussetts?
The child killings, rape and torture of Joseph Kony are unquestionably a crime against mankind but there won't be too many African American march about it. On the other hand, a single teenager in the wrong place in Florida who is killed in a controversial killing with a guard will bring on mass demonstrations.
While all this is going on we are losing the true African opportunity of a lifetime – the subcontinent is is getting richer and we really are not part of that.
Since 2000, Chinese interests have poured billions into Africa locking up most of their freshly available resources. They have built no churches, hospitals, clinics or do-gooder foundations of any kind. Their version of Bill Gates would sooner take their money to the gaming tables of Macao than hand it over to starving villagers of Mocambique. The same is true of Middle Eastern money – it flows from Saudi and Dubai.
The effects are rarely reported in the US media but they have altered the landscape in many ways. When civil wars break out both sides are well armed. When a mine is found or a dam is built - usually to power a mining area - China finances it and makes sure the benefits flow mostl to Beijing and to a few lucky politicians.
By way of thank you, when the continent holds its much vaunted conference on racism in the Zulu town of Durban, the Dalai Lama is banned thanks to pressure from China. When the most famous Zulu performers are invited to play in Israel, they join the Palestinian anti-Israel propaganda campaign. The fact that they were discovered and still partly managed by Jews hardly matters.
The net result is we own the guild-ridden poverty stricken part of Africa that we pull in a direction they don’t care about, wasting millions along the way. The East, on the other hand locks in all the resources and taps the emerging middle class billions. You could argue that they are paying off dictators and so on but there is another truth that we have overlooked in our ridiculously moral and guilt-ridden charity dance: they are feeding the desire of the emerging middle class while we are fanning the outrage of the dispossesed.
It is time to let Africa be Africa and let our own African and African-Americans do business the way Africans want us to. Let Al Sharpton do the marching on Africa and if George Clooney wants to get arrested, let him do it in Florida.
This is not mere polemic – it is sound psychology. Every non-profit knows that people either give or avoid giving by virtue of their psychological association with what the charity represents. By putting white people in charge of African charities they accentuate dependence, racial guilt, resentment and very little in the way of self-reliance. At the very least, they should be driven by African Americans.
When you look at the Asian Tigers you see how the revolutions occurred from within. What they needed from Bill Gates at the early days of the computer industry was his business not his charity. They used the home electronics market to launch vast industries with capital and expertise from home and their own diaspora.
African needs to help Africa. Anyone else - including celebrities not genealogically connected to Africa - need to help them by getting out of the limelight.
Advice to George, you want to march in Florida and give your frequent flier miles to Jesse Jackson. Let him take on Darfur. Kony too.
We all stand to gain when that happens.