By Jina Moore Guest blogger
updated 3/10/2012 9:24:40 PM ET 2012-03-11T02:24:40

Did you hear we halved poverty while we were all distracted by Invisible Children? The Internet is on fire debating Invisible Children and the Kony2012 campaign targeting UgandanJoseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army.  Rarely does news from Africa so consume the chattering classes – who, as it turns out, are missing some real news. In no particular order, here are some stories from Africa this week:

  1. More world news from the Christian Science Monitor

IN PICTURES: The Lord's Resistance Army

Think you know Africa? Take the CSM geography quiz

1. On International Women's Day, Kenya's sex workers offer to pay income tax -- to make the point that sex work is as valid as any other work, and to force the government to recognize the practice as a labor. (Kenya, meanwhile, fired 25,000 striking nurses, arguing that nurse strikes endanger patients lives. Twenty-five thousand missing nurses, however, is apparently totally safe.)

2. The UN claims to have met the clean water Millennium Development Goal, and scientists rebut.  The World Bank says the world met the Millennium Development poverty goal.

The maternal mortality MDG, however, looked pretty awful from Gobah, Liberia.  Yesterday, I visited a clinic there – in the same county as the capital, Monrovia – that doesn't have a microscope, malaria meds for kids 5-10, or water.  That's right, water.  Read about it over on the project page for our Pulitzer Center collaborative project on reproductive health in Africa.

3. The International Peace Institute calls our attention to actually underreported topics, namely, security in West Africa.  In addition to the notorious drug smuggling, IPI draws attention to the scary combination of terrorism, drugs, crime and insurgency in the Sahel region (especially in Mali, it notes, citing a recent UN assessment) and to piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. (That's right.  Pirates advance on great white saviors.  Pirates, checkmate.)

Bonus points for IPI, which tell us what we can do, rather than wring our hands and feel guilty, or not guilty, or guilty about not feeling guilty, or questionable making others feel guilty about the guilt others try to put on them... er... work it out according to whatever made you angriest on the Internet.

So what can we do to stop these two burgeoning crises?  Send planes to the Sahel and patrol boats to the Gulf, says IPI.  And maybe some radar and comms equipment.

4.Three men were killed in Burundi in an exchange of gunfire with the police, the latest in a series of killings that have been documented intermittently since the country's troubled 2010 election.  The UN has confirmed that the FNL, an ex-rebel group and former opposition party, has relocated to Congo, and some observers fear the ongoing gun battles suggest a return to violence with the FNL.

5.  Sam Bell, who knows a thing or two (to say the least) about what it means to do American advocacy on African atrocities, wrote a moving tribute to Representative Donald Payne, a long-time Sudan (and Africa) advocate who died on Tuesday.  Bell's tribute is itself an insightful reflection on some of the challenges of advocacy.

6.  Ashley Judd listened to this awesome radio piece I did about some incredible Congolese women busting through the countryside to bring women's news to the airwaves.  Did you?

7.  Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, stares down a cholera outbreak after a month of water shortages.

IN PICTURES: The Lord's Resistance Army

Still thinking about the LRA?
If, after all of this, you're still thinking about the LRA, I urge you to read this piece by indefatigable Elizabeth Rubin.  it's from 1998, when the LRA was still in Uganda kidnapping children at night.  Not that being in Congo and the CAR and raping women and looting villages is any less of a crime.  Just saying, note the time flashback.  Also, it's amazing journalism. (Thanks Nicholas Thompson for freeing it from behind the New Yorker's paywall.)

Meanwhile, I find these two things to be the most lasting, as the Internet exploded this week:

Photographer Glenna Gordon, who took the only still picture of Invisible Children you've ever seen, was interviewed about the photo by the Washington Post.  Answering a question about whether this IC stuff is all neo-colonial, Gordon said, "I don’t think they think there is a problem with the idea that they are colonial. This photo is the epitome of it, like, we are even going to hold your guns for you."

And novelist Teju Cole said yesterday (on, sigh, Twitter): "The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege."  All those blog posts, and dude gets it right in 140 characters.

Jina Moore is a freelance multimedia journalist who covers Africa, human rights and women in conflict zones. She blogs here.

This article, "7 stories on Africa this week, other than Kony2012," first appeared on

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© 2012 The Christian Science Monitor

Video: Stop Kony movement to save ‘invisible children’

  1. Closed captioning of: Stop Kony movement to save ‘invisible children’

    >>> we're back now with the web video -- actually, it's a short film that tens of millions of people are watching really every minute all over the world and then talking about on social media . they're talking about kony 2012 . it's a new campaign designed to tell the world about a ugandan war criminal who the filmmaker hopes will soon be brought to justice. nbc's craig melvin has our report.

    >> we worry. the rebels when they arrest us again then they will kill us.

    >> reporter: jacob is a 7-year-old child of war in uganda .

    >> jacob. it's okay.

    >> reporter: he learned english because he wanted to grow up to be a lawyer. not a soldier.

    >> my brother tried to escape. then they killed him using a panga. they cut his neck.

    >> reporter: his has become the hopeful face of a global movement that may be redefining revolution. they are called the invisible children , victims of two decades of war. jason ruffle is behind the lens telling the tragic story for millions.

    >> everything in my heart told me to do something. and so i made him a promise.

    >> reporter: more than 39 million people have watched his video since it was posted on youtube three days ago. today reaction from the state department , the white house , even the highest court in the world.

    >> and these young people from california mobilizing this effort is incredible. exactly what we need.

    >> reporter: in 2003 russell took a camera to uganda and found children terrified of being kidnapped and used for war. that documentary led to today's social media man tunt and call for action.

    >> joseph kony , he has an army. and what he does is he takes children from their parents and he gives them a gun to shoot and he makes them shoot and kill other people.

    >> reporter: in the simplest of terms russell explained his mission to his curious 4-year-old.

    >> he's a bad guy?

    >> yeah.

    >> reporter: joseph kony , wanted for war crimes . since the late '80s he's led an extremist group called the lord's resistance army. in uganda he's accused of turning tens of thousands of girls into sex slaves and boys into soldiers.

    >> we need to teach him what justice looks like. we need to love him into the hague behind bars soak face justice.

    >> reporter: people are taking action. this girl organized friends at her los angeles high school to raise awareness and money. about $4,000 so far.

    >> i don't know what it was. but there's something about their tears and their voices that i just couldn't stand.

    >> reporter: the 29-minute video and the activism it's created does have its critics.

    >> the main people are filmmakers. and as to the people with business backgrounds, it's not clear they're the best eck twoipd help with international relief.

    >> reporter: and are they equipped to help with the large amount of charity money that's been pouring in? experts agree raising awareness is good but the problems in uganda are complex and there won't be an easy fix. in los angeles craig melvin, nbc news.


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