Ian Cox (@IanECox), forever fond of prodding bears with sticks and such things, brought to my attention that there was a bit of dispute on social media about the Emmanuel Jal/Eric Wainaina Southern Sudan peace concert that took place yesterday in Nairobi, and was sponsored by Oxfam:
Ayom Wol Dhal and other people raised the issue that Emmanuel Jal may not be quite neutral and peacey enough for a peace concert for Southern Sudan. Ayom Wol Dhal is the editor in chief of the South Sudan Independent and, in an article, says that Emmanuel Jal has made repeat tribal comments on his Twitter account, including unsubstantiated allegations against Southern Sudan president Salva Kiir. Here’s the Facebook post that carries the full story.
That is, I would imagine, less than ideal. More importantly, though, I do as ever wonder how a (Nairobi) concert is going to fix a civil war? I only have one explanation: If the joint Jal/Wainaina intervention doesn’t bring Machar and Kiir to their senses, threats will be escalated: We’ll have no choice but to BRING GELDOF AND BONO. Possibly even without a UN Security Council resolution. So there!
Oxfam are being asked questions, too, and obligingly have said on the concert website, under ‘How is Oxfam involved’:
‘We're putting on this concert as we believe that there needs to be a counter-narrative to the messages of violence and hurt that are currently coming from South Sudan. We want to give space to voices of unity, reconciliation and peace. We are lucky to have five great performers from South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya sharing the stage for this event, so we can bring their musical voices to you, either through radio in South Sudan, on TV in Kenya, or over the internet to reach you, wherever you are in the world.’
*Eyeroll*. Yes yes. I trust that all these people are listening avidly – from Crisis Group: ‘The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is hosting almost 70,000 civilians fleeing ethnic reprisals, but its badly outgunned peacekeepers are no match for the thousands of heavily armed forces and militias.’ (this is not, before you get worked up about this, a comment on the efficiency or, clearly, otherwise of UNMISS, but on the scale of what can be technically described as a ‘complex emergency’).
Also, this does not really say how Oxfam is involved (Money? For the venue and the equipment? Performance fee for the artists? Tickets were for sale, so did the whole event break even?), only why. Which bit of Oxfam was involved? Inquiring minds want to know. Civilians giving Oxfam donations for concerts should certainly want to know.
Ian tried to engage Oxfam advisor Sam Rosmarin on the issue, but ended up concluding: ‘You're beyond the pale with your obfuscation. Shoulda gone to law school.’
I will leave you with a link to Wainaina’s lyrics that inspired the event title, Baby Don't Go.
Now baby must go, or my eyes will be stuck in the back of my head when the wind changes.
PS: I think they may even have used Comic Sans on the concert website. Surely one must draw the line somewhere, and if we don’t draw it at Comic Sans, then the terrorists will definitely have won.