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Mar 8, 2012

Your Local Nigerian Scam

Ok, well - it's actually Uganda, not Nigeria, but one of the latest viral "truth" campaigns may eventually gain the same level of infamy as those Nigeria Bank Inheritance Scams.

Let me back up, earlier tonight my daughter asked me if I knew anything about Joseph Kony. I thought for a moment, trying to place which one of her Jr High classmates he was.  She continued with her explanation that several people at school had been talking about this murderous cult leader.

The name sounded familiar but wasn't really ringing a bell. So, to Google I went. I quickly realized this was the name of the "Lord's Resistance Army" (LRA) leader. Then many of the stories of the atrocities in Central Africa flooded back in my mind. The church I attend has several missions in Africa, specifically Uganda - so these horrors had been conveyed to me in the past.

As I explained what I knew, she told me about the StopKony campaign. While I listened and tried to recall my memory of the African events, something stirred, knowing something was amiss - but I couldn't quite figure out what.

Well, today I did a little digging - and now I know what bugged me during our conversation. Kony's reign of terror has already been stopped. Let me repeat that: KONY IS NO LONGER A THREAT!

What makes it worse is akin to the backlash of making Hitler Time Magazine's Person of the Century - it's a painful memory that many would like to forget. Many people in Uganda would like to move on and forget the horrors and feel this latest viral campaign brings notoriety and improper attention to an evil better off forgotten. Dr Beatrice Mpora, director of Kairos, a community health organization in Gulu, explained it this way, "What that video says is totally wrong, and it can cause us more problems than help us." - according to an article in the UK Telegraph.

Now, the exact fate of Kony gets a little fuzzy, depending on what source you believe. Of course, I personally think he should be captured and justice should be sought, but I also realize there is a difference between idealistic theory and pragmatic reality. Even if Kony were never captured, the fact his reign of terror has ended is the more important fact.

All of this has left many, myself included, wondering why the sudden push to capture Kony - or more importantly produce and promote a video to solve a problem that no longer exists. Although the LRA's demise is more recent than the Nazis, but imagine the absurdity of promoting the idea to stop Hitler. There is little difference, other than most of us are ignorant (and potentially able to be manipulated thereby) of Kony's acts of terror and genocide.

Perhaps the sadder part of the story is so many of us are unaware of the horrible things that happened in Uganda. Or perhaps it is someone might be taking advantage of that ignorance for profit. There are several groups now calling for an investigation into the Invisible Children charity, which may or may not have been started for the right reason.

I can't know for sure, as I have not had the time to investigate, but please allow me to remind everyone to due the proper diligence before donating or getting behind any charitable, humanitarian or political cause. Don't get caught up, being duped and looking foolish. I hope this debacle doesn't mar the image of Rihanna (and others) for supporting this bogus campaign. This, of course, is why I often question the legitimacy of many celebrities' real beliefs versus their own PR team's image that they care...but that's a different topic.

Anyway, I thought I'd share my findings and remind everyone: Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you read.

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