Below is a portion of a speech by the Jesuit provincial of Eastern Africa last November here in DC that addresses the US-LRA policy. It of course doesn’t address the Kony 2012 video but it does speak to the larger policy issues and the approaches the Jesuits support to advance progress in this area.Watch video of showing of the Youtube video in Uganda on Al Jazeera
“The forces arrayed against Africa are formidable. But we have no time to waste lamenting. My friends, Africa could use some help – but the right kind of help!
On Friday, October 14, 2011, here in Washington, DC, the State Department announced that the government of the United States of America will send a contingent of one hundred U.S. soldiers to join in the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda, DR Congo, Central Africa Republic, and South Sudan. For those of you who do not know, the LRA is a rebel group that has killed, mutilated, abducted, and raped thousands of women, men, and children in northern Uganda. But things are different today. And I can tell you, because I know….
On the very spot where the LRA leader, Joseph Kony, and his criminal gang used to barbeque beef of cows that they stole from the people, and on the bush path that the LRA used to mount their deadly attacks, the Jesuits have built a school. It is called Ocer – the local Acholi word for “Christ is risen.” So, where once death and violence decimated the lives of Ugandans, a new dawn is rising and children can learn to build a better future. The children of Ocer and other schools in northern Uganda no longer train for war; they are training for a better, bigger, and brighter future – full of hope, full of promise. And this is where the U. S. government and the rest of the world can help Africa – to train African children, not for war, but for peace, prosperity, and progress! The U.S. government can help African children beat swords and guns into pens and pixels; notebooks and textbooks; I-pads and Touch-pads (see Isaiah 2:4).
The biggest threat to life in DR Congo, Uganda, South Sudan, Central Africa, and in so many parts of Africa is not the LRA; what destroys life in Africa are diseases, poverty, illiteracy, corruption, child mortality, maternal death, religious intolerance, lack of political freedoms, and limited economic opportunities. This is where the U.S. government, policy makers, and the international community can help Africa and the children of Africa: by sending teachers, doctors, engineers, experts in agriculture and development – not more soldiers, guns, and ammunition. In Africa we want to forge a new path of reconciliation, justice, and peace – these are the themes of the Second African Synod and of a new book that my colleagues and I recently published (Reconciliation, Justice, and Peace: The Second African Synod, Orbis Books, 2011).
My friends, as you think about these words, I urge you: get involved in the gritty realities of the world; don’t avert your gaze. Join hands with millions of other young people across the world to explore possibilities and create opportunities. Don’t turn the other cheek when injustice, greed, corruption, and diseases threaten the hopes and dreams of young women and men across the world. Hold on to your faith resolutely, pursue justice relentlessly, seek solidarity compassionately…. And please, my friends, think about Africa: feel her blood flowing in your veins and engage in her struggle to build a future full of hope.”