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Reclaiming our stories

The Kony 2012 film has stirred up a huge amount of controversy and discussion. One of its most interesting side effects is the way that it has provided us Ugandans with an opportunity to recapture our own narrative. In Uganda, there is a continuing drive to rewrite the historical narrative of the country. There is ...

STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images
STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

The Kony 2012 film has stirred up a huge amount of controversy and discussion. One of its most interesting side effects is the way that it has provided us Ugandans with an opportunity to recapture our own narrative.

In Uganda, there is a continuing drive to rewrite the historical narrative of the country. There is a need to challenge the official narrative that has been in place since the current regime came into power in 1986. This version of our past mostly views the government solely as a savior, hardly mentioning the gross violations of human rights for which it bears responsibility. People are beginning to ask questions regarding the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict, and the survivors are beginning to tell their stories of what really happened.

In response to Kony 2012, a group of internet-savvy Ugandans led by Javie Ssozi have come together to discuss a plan of action. The result is "Uganda 2012," a website that aims to recapture the narrative about Joseph Kony and Northern Uganda. The site provides a forum for Ugandans to tell their own stories, based on their own experiences, through voices, words, videos and photos.

The group plans to produce a film, also titled Uganda2012, tapping the creativity of Ugandan filmmakers, photographers, activists, writers, poets and artists in order to tell the real story of Joseph Kony’s tragic legacy in Northern Uganda. It will also document the work of the many amazing Ugandans who have worked tirelessly to rebuild the region. The film will be released on April 18 (two days before the #KONY2012 "Cover the Night" action).

Initiatives such as these encourage me to think that we as Ugandans are finally getting together to broadly document and publicize our work. Furthermore, bringing the narrative back to us is one way of ensuring our prosperity, ensuring a world where young people see people like themselves doing amazing work.

So while the hunt for Kony continues, the demand for the true stories also grows. The truth that Ugandans have demanded for years will start coming out.

Just as many people have argued earlier, the LRA is only one symptom of the many governance failures in Uganda. I would like to see this new desire for public discussion go beyond capturing Kony and address the cyclical conflicts that have plagued Uganda for decades.

For many Ugandans, the need for truth and justice is growing into an unquenchable thirst. Until the real stories start coming out and a genuine process of reconciliation begins, we will be left merely with well-intentioned charitable initiatives that do nothing to address fundamental domestic problems.

Jackee’s twitter handle is: @jackeebatanda

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