Tag Archives: stereotyping

You’re in hell… but America will save you!

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This short post is a largely-unresearched (as yet) kneejerk reaction to Foreign Policy’s 2011 list of the world’s failed states.

In a photo essay titled Postcards from Hell, journalist Elizabeth Dickinson portrays heart-tugging scenes from Iraq, Iran, Haiti, parts of Asia and (surprise!) much of sub-Saharan Africa – all of which have made FP’s list of failed states. How did these 60 countries get chosen? Well, the folks at FP chose from “130,000 publicly available sources… 12 indicators including refugee flows, poverty, public services, security threats”.

According to wiki, the Fund for Peace (which ironically sponsored FP’S little show-and-tell) describes a failed state as one which has:

  • lost control of its territory
  • erosion of legitimate authority to make decisions
  • inability to provide public services
  • inability to interact fully with other members of the international community

On these criteria, can we rank Liberia as a failed state? Nigeria? Kenya? How about Uganda? Iran? Bhutan?

Now, I am not condoning abuse of human rights or grave failures to provide public services by governments.The situations of Somalia and Haiti can certainly not be overstated.

It just seems to me that this American finger-wagging was a result of some biased research. The superlative-filled captions that go along with these pictures are just-so to portray exactly what I think the FP is trying to say : If your brand of government is not modelled after the US, if you’re a Jihad-preaching crazy Ay-rab muslim, we’re gonna put you on the list.

If I took pictures of SouthEast DC or the Bronx and slapped some shocking (but true) stats on the US’ immigration policies or incarceration rates, you might think The Mighty Nation was a failed state too.

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What else is showing

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When you are all finished beating the evening traffic into Garden City, queuing for ages to get a half-price ticket (naye, is it just me or is the Cineplex ticket booth increasingly incompetent? Really all they have to do is take your money and hand you a slip of paper!), squeezing past the millions of other di Caprio fans and sitting down to the ridiculously intense knock-your-socks-off crazy-sick 2 hour mind orgasm that is Inception (but fuck that ending. Me I’ve refused) ….

….when you’re done with that, please get another ticket (it’s half-price, don’t be cheap) to see The Silent Army. You probably won’t thank me after — I have no high praise for it myself. It is another case of African movie, white protagonist and doesn’t manage to let go of the usual stereotypes. Modelled closely on our own LRA war, it is set in a fictitious African country in which a rebel group is leading an insurgency, it follows a Dutch cook who goes looking for his son’s best friend Abu – a young African boy who has been abducted by the rebels.

It highlights the evil brainwashing involved in child abduction and induction into rebel (or any other) armies, the hypocrisy of Western-funded African conflicts and all those other lovely things that go with war on the continent.

I’m asking you to see this film because you will enjoy Abby Mukiibi’s turn as General Obeke, the depraved rebel leader; Sam Okello’s brief but evocative role as Abu’s wheelchair-bound father and of course Abu’s (Andrew Kintu) performance as a war-hardened child soldier.

See this film because you will probably walk out feeling quite proud of these 3 Ugandan actors.