Slice of Life: 67 Minutes of Nothing

People may think I’m unpatriotic, but I don’t believe in campaigns like the 67 minutes for Mandela, Save the rhino, Shout! against crime and, the one I personally loathed the most, Kony2012.

They make people think that, by liking a facebook page, watching a YouTube video or doing something good once a year, they will make an impact in society.

Saving the rhino would be relevant if the animal were actually going extinct. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the rhino population in South Africa is not threatened. The annual growth of the rhino population is 7%, and only 2% are killed through illegal hunting. So what’s the fuss?

I agree with a recent statement by Cosatu spokesperson Dumisani Dakile after more people died in our mines: “We know if it was the rhinos killed there was going to be lot of noise… ” This just shows how wrongly slanted our attention and activism is.

Then there was the Stop Kony/Kony2012 social media campaign earlier this year.  Jason Russell filmed an emotional documentary about his Ugandan friend in order to unite the world behind a movement to arrest Joseph Kony for crimes against humanity.

What many people didn’t know was that Invisible Children, the organisation behind the Kony2012 video – which solicited donations by selling bracelets and other goodie-bags – was in my opinion a scam. Yes, a scam.

The organisation pays Russell roughly R700 000 a year. And only 30-35% of the money collected is used to build schools or for other “charitable acts”. Where does the other 65-70% of money go? Their financial statements seem to suggest that up to 25% of their money is used for travelling and film-making. Nobody seems bothered to ask about that.

I can continue ranting, but what is the point? These campaigns are backed by big-name celebrities and companies, so the public will stupidly fall in line.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for helping society, building unity and improving our country, but why are people so slow to start mass social movements against the non-delivery of textbooks in Limpopo, the huge unemployment rate and the shockingly high number of people who can’t read or write.

That is where improvement should start.

Covering Wits

Witsies were surprised and curious to see red Kony 2012 posters covering campus when they arrived yesterday morning.

The flyers formed part of a collaboration between Stop Kony SA and Model IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) who aimed to raise awareness for the Kony 2012 campaign. The original campaign was started by charity organisation Invisible Children, to create awareness about the Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony in central Africa the hopes that he could be arrested for his crimes by the end of this year.

The posters were a part of a worldwide campaign to “Cover the Night” on the 20th of April, especially among the youth.

SA Stop Kony leader Giancarlo Agrizzi, Wits second year International Relations (IR) student, spoke to Wits Vuvuzela before the event. Agrizzi had met Invisible Children leader Jason Russell in the US who then personally motivated him.

“I would say that they have been successful, I mean, the AU sending 5 000 troops is quite a major achievement for anyone … We hope they will be even more successful after the 20th of April,” said Agrizzi.

5 000 posters were put up all over Wits, including the East-West tunnel, the bridge and Central Block.

Esther Caddy, president of IBSA and vice-president Chantelle Holthuis, said  they hoped to get Wits students motivated to find out more about the campaign.

“The students in South Africa hadn’t really taken part in Kony 2012 and they weren’t aware what it meant,” said Holthuis, “so we wanted to make an impact in our immediate environment.”

In reaction to the criticism the campaign has received, Caddy responded, “It’s not calling for pro-war activism, it’s calling more for global awareness and for global action.”

“It was needed, and what I like most about this campaign is that it is youth empowered,” explained Bambi Stewart, first year IR student and team leader for the night,

When Wits Vuvuzela asked Stewart if she thought the campaign would succeed in Kony’s arrest by the end of the year, she said “I think the campaign will be successful in creating awareness, but I’m not too sure about him being arrested.”


Photos by Akinoluwa Oyedele and Lisa Golden

Poster lies in flower bed in front of Great Hall

Team leader Bambi Stewart preps her team as they get ready to cover the night

Posters cover a wall in Central Block

Esther Caddy (left) and Chantelle Holthuis (right), President and Vice-President of Model IBSA

Handprinting the banner that later hung over the highway

Students cover a tunnel that links East Campus to West