Explaining Joseph Kony and the dead lion
Posted Friday, April 13 2012 at 18:52
What do lions, elephants, oil and Joseph Kony have in common?
Let me tell you.
Lions. Two years ago, on a street in Guangzhou, China, I witnessed something that I’d never seen before.
An older man, who had a younger woman on his arm, was stopped by a street vendor. Out of her bag, she pulled a lion’s paw, and showed it off to the man. Stained with dried blood, the paw and blood were being offered for sale as an aphrodisiac.
The Chinese government frowns on such acts, but I’ve found banned items for sale in many shops in China, particularly in the southern parts of the country. It’s a key reason why lions and other wild animals are disappearing from Africa.
Oil. On every trip that I’ve taken to Kenya, I’ve flown over Sudan.
It is the longest stretch of the flight. At 40,000 feet, the country looks like a giant sandbox in the north, and there is not a patch of green until you get within minutes of Kenya.
So it makes sense that the most fertile region of Sudan — and the one blessed with oil — is a prize. And it is also logical that there is war raging there, mostly in the name of precious resources.
Joseph Kony. Further to the west is Congo, where the outlaw Joseph Kony and his gang of child soldiers are being tracked by Ugandan and US forces.
Kony, who now has international fame due to a YouTube video that calls for his capture, is still wreaking havoc on innocents. Likewise, the Al-Shabaab are doing the same in Somalia.
So what hooks together the lions, elephants, Joseph Kony and Sudanese oil? The answer is climate change.
In what is sure one of the cruelest of ironies, Africa is suffering the most because of a world condition that it did not create. The blame lies squarely with the industrialised nations, particularly America, China and the European Union.
The result is shifting human populations. Wars fought over scarcer resources. Pirates robbing ships. Growing problems with political graft.
The rise of outlaws, like Kony and Al-Shabaab. Shrinking lakes like Lake Chad and Lake Victoria. Smaller catches of fish and shorter supplies of grain and fruit. Poaching.
Nothing tells the story like the elephant and the lion. Beyond predators who think the animals’ body parts can increase human sexuality, the elephant and lion are looking for food like everything else.
That has led them to farms, where they’re being poisoned by farmers. A profitable tourist trade is dying with them. So what does this mean?
It puts into context why so many bad things are happening in such a good place. In America, we have many safety nets to help those in need, prevent crime and to deal with shortages. We also have the freedom to debate whether climate change is happening.
But African nations do not have these luxuries, and do not have the time to debate what is in front of their eyes.