Ben Affleck Brings Attention to Congo
ABC News reports that Ben Affleck traveled to the Congo three times in the last eight months ostensibly to understand the nature of what the United Nations calls the deadliest conflict in the world since World War Two.
ABC's "Nightline" team accompanied Affleck on his trip to the Congo where he produced a video diary that will be shown on Nightline on Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 11:35 PM EST. The group "traveled through refugee camps, hospitals and clinics, meeting with warlords, relief workers, child soldiers and members of parliament in an effort to better understand" the nature of the conflict in the Congo.
Usually when the mainstream media covers the Congo or Africa in general, the coverage is often devoid of context or history. African conflicts are usually presented as warring "tribes" wantonly killing each other. A mix of alphabet soup rebel groups are usually presented as the ultimate source of the problem, which leads the viewer to the conclusion that the problems are too complex and very little or nothing can be done to resolve the crisis.
A few questions to ask or observations to make when watching tonight's show:
1. Does it come across clearly that the source of the conflict in the Congo is the scramble for Congo's spectacular natural wealth?
2. Are the foreign corporations that are systematically looting the Congo mentioned or identified?
3. Does the report mention that the conflict was triggered by two invasions (1996 & 1998) led primarily by Rwanda and Uganda and backed by the West?
4. Are any articulate Congolese scholars and activists consulted to provide analysis and prescriptions for resolving the crisis in their country?
5. Is Congo's enormous potential presented at all? For example, agricultural experts report that Congo has the agricultural capacity to feed the entire world through 2050 when the world's population is estimated to be 9 billion? ( Click here to read article).
Any attention focused on the Congo is a net positive considering that dead gorillas have generated more interest and concern than millions of dying Congolese. We need to encourage more people to care like Mr. Affleck obviously does, so that the needless suffering in the Congo can be brought to an end. Click here to participate in the discussion.