Tag Archives: Africa

My name is Ashraf and I am not a terrorist


Since my last post, my blog has seen nearly 300 hits.  Wow.  I have to say thank you to everyone who’s willing to listen to what I have to say and passing it along… For a Jersey chick with a template-blog that works for no one, 300 is a lot.

In fact, I’m starting to think about maybe turning this into my one and only job in life.  Writing, informing.  Of course, that remains to be seen as my Pakistani mother is currently acting as if Karachi is under siege… Perhaps I shouldn’t have told her what I’ve been thinking.

But to follow up on a few things people have been saying… Invisible Children is not a scam.  Does a significant chunk not go to Africa? Yes. But it goes to their films.  IC is not primarily a charity– their main goal is to raise awareness.  That money goes to their films which, as you can see, have made a big impact.

In fact, give Invisible Children a chance to address all criticism here.

One thing the latest viral video you’re all watching did not address is that while Kony may be now just doing everything he is for power, in the beginning the LRA did have a purpose.  Pretty much, Uganda’s seen a lot of ethnic conflicts and civil war… A woman by the name of Alice Auma started the Holy Spirit Movement, which pretty much advocated Acholi (an ethnic group in Uganda) interests by saying she was a prophet receiving the word of God… Kony came along and kind of started copying her, adding violence into the mix and thus bringing about the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Hold the phone there. Lord’s. Resistance. Army. The Lord. As in Christ. Kony and his men portray themselves as a Christian movement, fighting for their people in the name of God… Sound familiar?

But you never hear anyone call all Christians terrorists, now do you?

Ab imo pectore,



Last year’s wishes; Kony 2012


If you have not seen it, and you have a beating heart and a living, breathing soul, it is of the utmost importance that you watch this video before reading.  For those of you that already have, please scroll on past and just give me a few moments of your time.

Joseph Kony has been a part of my knowledge since 2007 when Alex (my Jimmy Olsen from MakeWaves) and I found out about the LRA through Pete Wentz’s advocation of Invisible Children and Fall Out Boy’s subsequent featuring of the issue in their music video for “I’m Like A Lawyer With The Way I’m Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You)”.

I’m writing this not to say oh I totally knew about this before you, but to tell you.  That film is great and it’s gotten your attention, and I’m so glad… But there are a few details that weren’t mentioned, that you have to look a little bit more for, that you have to know.

Freshman year of high school I wrote a paper on the LRA and Uganda for my World Civilizations class, and our teacher showed us some videos and talked about it in class during our Africa unit.  A couple years later, a friend of mine started a chapter of Invisible Children at our high school, and a bunch of us collected books and donated money for the suffering children of Uganda.  We told people about the cause, we tried to get our vice principal to have Invisible Children (or Pete Wentz, as I kept trying to push for without much hope) come talk to our school, we spread the word where and when we could.

But yet again, it was social media that prevailed.

Alex and I are kind of peeved.  It’s the same feeling we always have when others start getting into a band we’ve known for ages (Alex, I still insist that you are single-handedly at fault for All Time Low’s mainstream popularity).  But just now, when I watched Jason Russell’s new film, I can’t help but feel a lump in my throat.  In a completely genius move, Russell used that utterly adorable kid of his to really seriously paint the picture: these are kids, like ours, being killed, forced to kill, tortured, raped, forgotten.  And they’re starting to become visible.

Kids are being forced to eat hearts.  Literally.  Eat.  Hearts.  When doing my research paper back in high school, I read about the most disgusting, vile things that the LRA officers force those kids to do.  Not only do they force girls to be their “wives” and become pregnant at 11, 12, 13 years old, but they also force them to hurt each other.  They abduct them from their homes at night and their schools during the day and force them to kill their parents or relatives on the spot.  They force them to walk miles and miles and miles on end without food or water and if a boy complains, they force the others to beat him.  Kill him.  Rip out his heart and eat it.  That is the exact story I read in a survivor’s account I came across while writing my paper.

In the video, you see those kids walking at night and all sleeping in the same place, far away from their homes.  Imagine having to walk for miles because you know that if you stay at home, you won’t be safe.  Imagine how scared you would be.  Imagine being six years old and going through that.  My little brother complains after walking at the mall.  For these kids, this is life, another day.

There’s the hopeful notion of returning those kids home at the end of the film.  I learned back in freshman year that those who even had homes to go back to, who even survived and escaped, found themselves being turned away.  These kids are turning into pariahs in their own families, let alone their own community.  Their families are afraid to take them back, afraid of the LRA, afraid of them, the kids themselves.  These kids need shelters, they need more of the rehabilitation programs that are currently working to help them in Uganda and other affected areas on the limited resources they have.

Yes, this is totally the trendy new cause, and it’s a little messed up that the only thing that can get people into this is seeing it on other people’s walls, seeing it as the cool new thing to talk about and be seen doing.  But I’ll take it.  My best friend was going on a rant the other day on the bus about how social media and technology has made us an anti-social, self-centered society…  This is just proof that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  And turn the system upside down.


Ab imo pectore,