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peace without sickness, failure without denial, and democracy without restriction
Hope and change have gained a great footing in not only the 2008 Presidential elections in the US, but also in the communities of Northern Uganda. Peace talk negotiations and a cease-fire in fighting have allowed children to return home, families to rebuild, and communities to begin creating lives without fear from conflict. The conflict in Northern Uganda is often tagged as a "civil war," but largely centers on a rebel group called the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). (Read more here) Thousands displaced, abducted, lost - hundreds killed. The peace talks have been going well and two weeks ago (April 10th) Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA, was supposed to come out of hiding to sign the peace agreement. He did not show up and his spokesperson claimed he had been sick. Sick or afraid? Kony and his top officials are now on the top of the International Criminal Court's arrest list. It seems he may have been sick with fear of being held accountable for his long-running violent resistance.
Relative calm has returned to Kenya, the Rift Valley saw nearly 1000 people killed and 170,000 flee to their ancestral homes. Business are reopened, roadblocks removed, and armed police patrol the streets. Those who have fled may not face the violence any longer, but life in the camps is made no less difficult by the recent rains. The taxi service has resume, but access to food and medications is a rising issue. The armed patrols that used to be known for ruthless brutality are now seen as protectors. Kisumu, which saw widespread rioting, is back to calm. Maseno University is still not open because it cannot ensure security to its students. The Nairobi slums have remained mostly calm as the negotiations with Kofi Annan are taking place, however the slums saw the worst of the post-election violence. There are some reports that say the slums are now divided by ethnic lines. Mombasa, contributing 15% of Kenya's economy through tourism, saw no real trouble except for tourists canceling their vacations. While the calm has returned the hopes of the country seem to teeter on Annan's ability to forge a coalition government. What cannot be forgotten as these talks begin is the political and colonial history of Kenya (read more here).
Continue story below.
If it happens in Africa it must just be the primal instinct based in tribalism. The mass media has been covering the situation in Kenya as a near exclusive tribal and ethnic conflict without accounting for the history of Kenya's political turmoil and where ethnicity is put into a colonial context. The crisis in Kenya is not solely ethnic and tribal. It is a crisis based on democracy and fueled by past divisions created by British colonial rule.
From the When not in Africa. . . blog.
When writing about Africa many times it is difficult to bring the proper perspective or 'view'. So often people write about Africa with the view, that many of us have come to know, from the myths of Africa. The old myths of a 'dark' continent, Heart of Darkness, uncivilized, and savage to the new myths of a continent wrought with poverty, disease, and conflict, these are all too often emphasized in writings about Africa. That, I would say, is a poor representation of Africa, its many countries, and its many peoples. In her blog, Acumen Fund Fellow Jocelyn Wyatt, writes about her training in writing about Africa before being stationed in Kenya for eight months. She tells us of three views often evident in writings about Africa. I will allow her writing to continue this message. And I hope, that I can write about Africa with a critical eye and not with a jaded or an overly simplistic mindset. I hope to understand the intricacies of Africa and not look too far past the idea that all people are more alike than they are different.
So many people ask: "Is the United States ready for it's first black president?" However I think the real question is, "Will the American people be prepared to recognize the differences that we all share?" The truth of the matter is that we won't have a `black' president if Barak Obama is elected. If Obama is elected he will carry on the great American tradition of presidents who are racially and ethnically mixed. The attempts to stamp our current society with the false vestiges of time will not do. Today is not as black and white as the televisions once used to be.
These past few months have been very exciting for S.C.O.U.T. B.A.N.A.N.A.. We have taken on 4 new projects dealing with basic health care and we are that much closer to achieveing official non-profit status. We have partnered with Blood: Water Mission and so far raised over $500 to help train community workers to build wells for a sustainable clean water source in communities in Uganda, Kenya, and Sierra Leone. We have also raised over $1,200 to support the Partners in Health Rwanda Programs which include: recruiting and training administrative and medical staff; rebuilding and equipping clinics; and securing reliable electricity, water, and communications systems. Two amazing organizations all working towards one over arching goal, which is to provide basic health care services to the world's people disproportionately affected by poverty, disease, and injustice.