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African press review 9 March 2012

Text by: Rosie Collyer
3 min

African papers are buzzing with reaction to the Stop Kony 2012 video which has grabbed the attention of editors after huge numbers of hits on the internet.


Newspapers up and down the continent are reacting to the Stop Kony 2012 video that's gone viral this week.

If you don't have internet access, or if you don't know who Joseph Kony is, then here's the lowdown. Kony is the founder of the Lord's Resistance Army. He's been fighting a war for over 20 years, which has no clear aim, but in the process has killed thousands of people in Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and both Sudans.

A US-based NGO called Invisible Children has made a video about Kony, in which he's alleged to have done an array of despicable things, including abducting children - forcing the boys to fight and turning the girls into sex slaves. The idea behind making the video was not to make Kony famous, the NGO insists, but to make as many people as possible hate him.

So what are journalists on the continent making of the video?

South Africa’s Daily Maverick runs the headline: Lord help us, because this campaign won't help anyone! Religion is the red thread in this piece. And the journalist points out that it is very difficult for the average American to perceive a terrorist who isn’t a Muslim.

The story gets the top spot in Uganda’s Daily Monitor. Interestingly, the paper says that not all government ministers knew about the video when they were approached by the newspaper. One Government official who is aware of the video actually contributed to it, the paper says. But he felt the spotlight should also have been shone on the role the Ugandan army played in atrocities.

Staying with the subject of warlords, but moving West to Liberia, the New Dawn newspaper is reporting that Charles Taylor is planning to claim his pension.

Taylor is currently awaiting sentencing from the Special Court for Sierra Leone for 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The paper quotes an anonymous aide as saying that Taylor is not being tried for crimes committed in Liberia, so as a former head of state he is entitled to a pension.

Taylor has apparently begun legal proceedings to make a formal claim for his pension. The government of Liberia currently pays severance benefits to former members of Taylor’s regime, according to the New Dawn.

A press release issued by the South African government yesterday afternoon, offers an apology to the Nigerian government over a recent diplomatic spat, but hasn't been picked up by papers in Africa yet.

The Daily Trust newspaper in Nigeria however, took a retrospective look at how yellow fever vaccinations have featured in diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The paper recounts how the yellow fever card was used against former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999. It almost resulted in him missing Thabo Mbeki's inauguration.

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