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Unmaking the Nation: The Politics of Identity and History in Modern Sri Lanka (1995 | 2009).

Pradeep Jeganathan & Qadri Ismail (eds.)

Now in a 2nd Edition, with a new preface, and a comprehensive index.

"Stimulating... Excellent..." -- Journal of Asian Studies. 

"Will be of great value to all those concerned with... nationalism [and] violence..." -- Arjun Appadurai.

"...[F]orces us to think about Sri Lankan symbolic and social formations in an entirely novel fashion." -- Gananath Obeyesekere

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Friday
Dec212012

"This Court is of the View..."

The Court of Appeal today issued an order on writ application C.A (writ) Application 411/2012, filed by attorneys of the Chief Justice, seeking writs of certiorari and prohibition to quash the findings of the PSC constituted to report on the articles of impeachment framed against her by members of the house of parliament. It has been widely been reported that the Court has issued notice on the speaker and members of the PSC, but it has not yet been noted that the Court, has in language understandable to any one declared that:
     
      
“This Court is of the view that any steps taken in furtherance of the findings and/or 
the decision contained in the report of the2nd to the 8th Respondents marked P17 [PSC Report] would be void if this court after the hearing of this application issues a writ of certiorari to quash the said findings and/or the decision of the PSC, therefore the relevant authorities should advise themselves not to act in derogation of the rights of the Petitioner until this application is heard and concluded, since any decision disregarding these proceedings to alter the staus quo may lead to chaotic situation.” 
(Full text of the CA order is available at Colombo Telegraph)

 

It is the potion in italics that has not yet been reported in the press.

It is of great import.

Thursday
Dec202012

An Ethos of Ethics

Virtue, then, being of two kinds, intellectual and moral, intellectual virtue in the main owes both its birth and its growth to teaching (for which reason it requires experience and time), while moral virtue comes about as a result of habit, whence also its name ethike is one that is formed by a slight variation from the word ethos (habit).

 

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book 2.

 

On the 22nd of March, 1952, D.S. Senanayake, first Prime Minister of independent Ceylon, passed away after falling off his horse, during his morning ride at Galle Face.

It is widely known that his son, Dudley Senanayake succeeded him. It is not so widely known that the circumstances of the succession were controversial, and Sir John Kotalawala, then Senior Vice President of the UNP, and more importantly Leader of the House, had fully expected to be called by the Governor General, Lord Soulbury to form the next government as Prime Minister.

But he never was; Soulbury who was away from his post, had left instructions with the acting Governer General, the then Chief Justice, Sir Alan Rose, QC to either call on Senanayaka Junior, or await his return. And so he did.

Kotalawala himself accepted this desicion at the time after much protest, but in a pamphlet written a few months later suggested that among the much back stabbing and deal making that went on, was a quid pro quo: Senanayake would offer the Governor Generalship to Solbury, who chaired the Royal Commission investigating the suitability of Ceylon's Independence, if he would ensure the succession of his son, upon his demise.

I should underline that the paragraphs above deal with allegations, not proven fact. I am not in possession of new facts either, all what I say above was in the public domain in 1950s.

But I will say I find it rather persuasive, as much as I find articles of impeachment against the current Chief Justice Dr. (Ms) Bandaranayake unpersuasive.

But often, as we are caught up in urgent, partisan political struggles, we lose sight of the larger issues. In this case, what is paramount, is an ethos of ethics which we have clearly lost. I present a historical example, at the dawn of what we call independence, to underline that two important British royal officials were implicated in the controversial, and arguably sordid, transition from Senanayake Senior to Junior.

It militates against the often expressed view, that the decline of an ethos of ethics we see in Sri Lanka happened the day before yesterday. To me it is sobering to wonder if we ever had one. If I am right, the task of an Ethos of Ethics is much harder, yet necessary.

Often, we adults know right from wrong. But we carefully lull ourselves into thinking that some small wrong, doesn't matter if it benefits us, and doesn't seem to do much wrong to others. And then we continue along that path, as the unethical behavior grows in magnitude.

It is not just a matter of conscience, even one's conscience could be an important starting point in an ethos of ethics. It is certainly not a matter of law, even though legal arguments are important seeing that justice is done.

It is, I submit, a matter of habit, custom and manner. Such needs to go far beyond law. Certainly at this late stage, the only right thing to do in the matter of the impeachment of the Chief Justice, is to step back, making clear amendments to the Constitution, allowing the impeachments of the members of the Superior Courts to follow common and well understood protocols of Justice rather than an unhappy combination of the custom and manner of the Kings Rajasingha II and Kakkille.

But is this really enough? For that would be to end the matter in a question of law. It is not. We do not need to learn right from wrong. But we need to think of how we teach such to children, and teach this again, to ourselves.

The matter becomes deeper, when we begin to understand, that both loyalty and fairness are virtues, deserving a place in an Ethos of Ethics. Often they come into conflict. Loyalty is certainly slippery, for it can contain implicit or explicit quid pro quos. You do this for me, I will do that for you -- even if it seems unfair to others. Each situation may be different, but navigating that boundary is some thing we need to teach ourselves.

Even after the constitution of two republics, we haven't yet even begun.

Monday
Jul302012

The work goes on: Remembering Neelakanthan Tiruchelvam

I never agreed with Neelan Tiruchelvam, all that very much. And that was from the very beginning, the very first time I met him in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in '84 or '85. He was visiting Harvard to give a lecture and was of course a renowned Tamil liberal intellectual of great stature.

I, a lowly but angry undergraduate at MIT, armed as I was with a radical vision of the possibilities of armed militancy, and what Bernard Yack has called, 'a longing for total revolution,' was suspicious of such figures.

In fact, hard though it may seem to believe now, in those days, it was rumoured in my mother's social circles that I had fallen in with bad friends and turned 'terrorist'.

I asked Dr. Tiruchelvam a question after his presentation that day and I recall being disappointed by the answer - we didn't agree. But I remember to this day the keen, open face and slightly turned head; I remember being heard. That's not merely one fond memory.

In the years after, there were many many times where his arm would be over my shoulder, his head bent, listening intently, head nodding.

It was quite soon after that first encounter that I started my now long, formal relationship with the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, of which Neelan was the founder. I had taken a semester off from MIT and been offered an internship to help write a screenplay for a proposed teledrama.

I was excited by the assignment, but even more so by the atmosphere at ICES. Situated in a cozy house down Kynsey Terrace, ICES was bursting at the seams with ideas and arguments, warmed by the sun and cooled by the evening rains spraying gently through the tats of the Thatched Patio.

It was here that I first heard Benedict Anderson speak of nationalism and imagination, first encountered the work of Michel Foucault discussed in a conversation between Radhika Coomaraswamy and Newton Gunasinghe, and saw first hand Neelan Tiruchelvam work tirelessly to build what he called a 'Kynsey Terrace approach' to the world.

The Kynsey Terrace approach was both about a distinctive style and particular themes. If there is one part of that vision that I recall now with some nostalgia, it was Neelan's ability to foster real, on-going argument and dissent at the Centre. To disagree was to be at the heart of things, as long as you could articulate what your dissent was about. And Neelan solicited such, actively.

He would arrive from somewhere, on his way some where else - all distances of thousands of miles - fresh as a cup of morning tea, his light blue shirt only slightly rumpled, and sit down - his scissoring legs the one of sign of great energy that underlay his calm composure - and ask: 'What do you think, Pradeep?'

And often in those youthful days, not only would I think differently from him, but my dissent would often be even scornful and angry. But he would always listen, and hear me.

As my friend and colleague Ramani Mutteguwegama said just the other day, as we chatted about the old days: 'You could storm out of his office after a disagreement, but when you came back, Neelan would have thought about what you had been screaming about.'

But also, the next time he returned from somewhere, there would be tucked under his arm a new book he had bought for you, that went right to the heart of what you had been saying, that he'd give you with a quiet: "I thought you'd like to review this?" That was not simply the toleration of dissent, it was a way of enabling it, and deepening it, so that the righteous anger of youth might mature into a rich intellectual voice.

That was the other side of the Kynsey Terrace approach to things, the nurturing of critical intellectual traditions that would contribute to debates on nationalism, minority rights, gender rights, constitutional law, and of course, unfortunately and necessarily, our analysis of massive events of violence.

So whether it was the vexed and ever present question of re-drafting the constitution of the republic, or understanding the violence of July 1983, the Kynsey Terrace approach wasn't to result in a simple, clinched set of platitudes - it was to be a creative, original, rigorous set of ideas that would add real value to on-going debates, whether in the realm of policy or scholarship.

The Kynsey Terrace approach Neelan envisaged was about a dynamic, critical, intellectual tradition, that would be able to respond, in a located but cosmopolitan way, to the burning issues that faced this country, the region, and the global south.

This was then, and continues to be now, very crucial and urgent. Our critical intellectual traditions, its seems, have been beleaguered for some time now.

First by the almost inevitable postcolonial tension, and even disjuncture, between an under capitalized, often authoritarian state, and individual intellectual curiosities and the resources to pursue them, leading to the flight of many distinguished intellectuals to Euro-America or Australia.

But further, in more recent years, the continuous, numbing, near apocalyptic violence we have faced on all fronts has attenuated the productivity of our universities, learned societies, and their organs of publication.

Neelan stood with a handful of others in other scholarly institutions in the country, who struggled with extraordinary tenacity to work with Sri Lankan scholars both here and abroad, to preserve, enrich and enlarge that tradition.

He laboured hard at this massive task, very effectively and productively, and the fruits of his labours are embedded in the institutions he created.

But his loss, both in spirit and in person, has been almost irreplaceable, and increasingly, I fear that the rich tradition of rigorous, productive, mature debate and dissent that he did so much to build, is now in some trouble,

Our intellectual discourses are increasingly peppered with buzz words sprinkled upon us from up high-empowerment, civil society, good governance, stakeholder, road map, participation and the like, that don't really mean very much any more conceptually, and do even less real world work, practically.

For some time now, there have been serious, sophisticated, international intellectual debates on the very conceptual and practical usefulness of these buzz words, but most of us, barring a few exceptions, seem almost unaware of these debates.

We can and should think through these concepts for ourselves, but we don't - it's easier to simply think less under the cover of pragmatism. It is not that there is one way of re-thinking these concepts; my whole point is that there are many different ways, and we need to attend to them all.

We need to recall and remember Neelan's vision of a Kynsey Terrace approach, not because a dusty lane in Borella is important, but because we desperately need to own our intellectual traditions, and strengthen our ability to think critically about the society and polity which we inhabit.

If Neelan were to walk into my office today, in his socks (as he often did), a smile on his face, head tilted, and ask, 'what do you think, Pradeep?' I would have to say, as John Kennedy sort of said of something else, long ago: 'The flame has flickered, but the spark still glows. The work goes on, the cause endures, hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.'

(First published in print on the 27th of July, 2006, in the Ceylon Daily News)

Monday
Jul302012

Event, Structure, History: July 1983, May 2009

(Photo by Chandragupta Amarasinghe)

The modern history of Sri Lanka is punctuated by two massive events that we are yet to fully understand; the civilian led anti-Tamil violence of July 1983, and the armed forces led destruction of LTTE in May, 2009. Other events that might claim to be such ruptures in temporality, events that structure both time and society, so that they are embedded in history; April 1971 or December 2004, don’t have the same weight. And weight it what matters, in this process I isolate, ‘Event, Structure, History.’

And yet, these ruptures that punctuate not just our modern history, but punch out its more somber, brutal, chilling episode, that drew us down what seemed to be an ever spiraling vortex of no return, are also so very different. July, 1983 was an event without parallel, a moment of ‘horror,’ that had many Sri Lankans throwing their hands up in disgust. Many of those worked against the tide, but many also went with the flow. People were killed, houses burnt, livelihoods destroyed. However, it was, for most, who remember it to this day, lived through, experienced. Even today, you can in a gathering of older people, Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim, ask, what were you doing in July, 1983 and they will remember and reminisce.

Great contributions to the structure of society and history from the event also seemed to come from this lived experience. It happened. Some were killed; many were burnt down to nothing. They left. And we, who always lived in broken, fractured place we call home fighting over the house and garden, moved to other places, not to give up the fight, but to keep at it, long distance. The Sri Lankan Diaspora, no, the Sinhala and Tamil Diaspora, fractured in its own, special, unhappy way, was born. A Diaspora of patriots is not new. Indeed the very word comes from the old biblical idea of the scattering of the tribes of Israel, once mythical place, and now, real state, imagined origin of many more than it is lived home of. Or the Irish of Boston. Such is old, it predates the internet and inexpensive, shared video recordings. It makes for a distributed nation; a small country, that’s a huge challenge.


Perhaps this is a reason we are much less in agreement as what might have even happened, in May 2009, than July 1983. Of course, there are nay Sayers still, of that first event, those who say it never really happened, that no one was killed, they it was faked. Indeed. But I trust they are a small number, and more that their views have little authority. Not so with May 2009. Reasonable people, with considered views, seem to differ so dramatically on what happened and why. War crimes. Geneva. UNHRC. It is of course, no longer a private fight between two people in a bad arraigned marriage, who have to stay together for the sake of children and house and garden. It’s in the court of world opinion. Indeed it is a sign of how far we have traveled on new roads that we cannot map, far away from home.

Perhaps it is also because May 2009 is too complicated to boil down into a simple, ‘we did this that to them.’ It wasn’t 1983; it was the end point of one of the most complex, bitter and sophisticated wars the world as ever lived through. And so, yes, it would be hard to understand, let alone arrive at the shared understanding of it. And yet, we have not tried. I think this is where we have failed, failed ourselves and failed our children, failed our nation, and our country, and what left of it. We have not tried, to simply ask those who were there, to speak of what they remember. Not that they don’t remember of course. They do. But no one wants to listen. So the biggest difference between July 1983 and May 2009, is that the second exists in video on YouTube, and first really doesn’t. And it is the first, that was the simple event, indeed, it could be a 30min documentary. The second with all its complexity, is now understood by many, who were not there, who didn’t live through it, as a simple moral story of evil vs. good. Their ‘May, 2009’ is on YouTube; it’s a film. It is as if, July 1983 went to the movies, and came out a sequel. Yes, it is that simple and that convoluted.
I don’t know when we will get out of this mess we’ve made of things. But I do know that someday, we will be able to hear through the competing, contradictory, claims and counter claims of ‘I patriot, you terrorist,’ the unbearably sad, unspoken lament of our collective melancholia, for all we have lost and cannot name.

Published in print on the web, in the Nation on Sunday, 20th May, 2012

Thursday
Jul122012

Wanduramba & Dambulla: History and Meaning

 

“Police have opened investigations into an attack on a Buddhist centre in Wanduramba, Galle, where tear gas was used to control crowds on Sunday evening,” says a news report published in a National news paper website on Monday last, going on to tell us that, “[t]he protest was launched against a group alleged to be practising Buddhism against the principles of the Theravadha Buddhism at the particular location. Buddhist monks and over 2,000 people took part in the protest.”

Other reports confirm the incident. Some months ago now, a mosque in Dambulla was attacked, once with a fire bomb, and then by a large group of civilians led by well known Buddhist monks from the temple there.

Are these incidents related or unrelated? And if so or not, are they expressions of an age old Sinhala Buddhist consciousness?

The two incidents have ideological differences from each other, and yet they also share similarities. A Facebook page that reproduces and (shares) carefully made Sinhala ‘posters’ gives me a clue to these logics: the Dambulla march and attack was about Buddhist sacred space, the Wanduramba matter about ‘false belief.’ And while these are both listed as matters of grave concern on yet another poster, they are listed separately. Their logics are different but interrelated, one is about the purity of space, the other about the ideological claims that are to be written, inscribed in that space.

 

Are these claims then, taken together, as interconnected, or separately, ancient? Have those who today claim the mantle of Sinhala Buddhism always been so ideologically inclined? Not in my view. This is not to discount the terror of intolerance, violence and war by covering it in a misty and glorious haze, suggesting that all was calm and kind, pious and loving, “then.”

But it is to point to important differences. Doctrinal disputes, about say, the Vinaya, were crucial to the debates between great monastic orders of the Mahavihara, the Jethawana and Abyegiri in the early medieval period of the island’s past. Often, it seems they were polite and erudite debates, conducted in traditions of scholary respect. Rarely, that is once in many centuries, a monastery may have been destroyed or pillaged on the orders of a King who found the loosers of such a debate to be heretics.  Yet these debates, while no doubt logical and erudite, were not about a “truth” that was rational, verified by modern science, which inaugurates the distinction between contemporary Buddhism and its many, varied ancient forbearers. Modern debates are outcomes of resistance to missionary Christianity, that sought to cast Buddhism as irrational. Indeed, in was at Baddegama, in the very neighborhood of Wanduramba, that the first such debate between Buddhists and Christians took place. These debates were not directed at the Sovereign, as ancient debates were. That’s the second big difference; they were directed at ordinary people whose, ‘consciousness,’ was the battle ground of the arguments. “Consciousness,” as Sumanasiri Liyanage has pointed out recently, isn’t the same as ideology. It’s about what’s inside us. The concept is close cousins with “conscience,” a person’s moral core in the Christian sense. It can be argued that this is a modern, Protestant idea that is a rupture in Christian thought as well.

The idea of Scared Space which catalyzes the violence at Dambulla is also a modern idea; very much a product of colonial archaeological practice, which made hierarchically ordered, racially marked, monumental landscape for us. By the end of the ninetieth century, these colonially produced, museumised spaces were violently sacralized by Buddhist activists like Walisinghe Harischandra, who led direct agitation to purify Anuradhapura of ‘profanity’ in 1903.

What colonial Archaeology made, Sinhala Buddhist nationalism claimed as pure, sacred space for its pilgrims, in its battle for their consciousness.

I see the objections of the high priest of Dambulla to the Mosque and Kovil in the vicinity of his temple, as a replay of Harischandra-led making of modern consciousness, not as an ancient tradition. In fact, we have had multi faith sites of worship in this country for a long time; Katharagama is but one example of temple, Kovil and Mosque existing and interacting in the same space. But it’s not been subject to the archeological intensity that Dambulla has. Hence the obviousness of chronological temporality in once site, (hey, we are 1000 years older than you, my book says so!), to its difficulty in Kataragama or Adam’s Peak (who came first, Adam, Buddha or Murukan?).

The very idea of Sinhala Buddhist consciousness in modern. It doesn’t go back to the fifth century or sixth, an idea that really must be abandoned, because it’s silly. Yes, as modern citizens we are endowed with both a conscience and consciousness. Perhaps that’s ancient or perhaps not; I really don’t think it matters all that much. What does matter is the idea that to be authentic, to be faithful, and to be good, we have to be ‘pure,’ to the point of intolerance, angry to the point of direct violence against someone or something that is not ours.

Monday
Jun252012

Tracing the edge of the nation

The pages of fiction, said Gunadasa Amarasekara at the launch of his new novel Rupantharanaya, are enabled by the sensitively lived life, and the hundreds who had gathered at the SLFI, to hear half dozen intellectuals speak on his writing seemed to agree. I do too; it is difficult think of any other writer who exemplifies this art, who combines the rigour of sustained logical narrative, propelled by the subtlety of everyday descriptions, in syntax and vocabulary of breathtaking economy and beauty.

Amarasekara on that day disavowed giving an account of his new novel, or his oeuvre, leaving it to the panel; yet he has been most influential as a critic of his own work, rather more I think than he should be. The weight of the now conventional division of Ameresenkere’s fiction to the periods young and mature, can be attributed surely to his own endorsement of the view and frequent ‘repudiations’ of early work, that are thought to be D. H. Lawarencish forays into Sinhala fiction. There was much of this said at the SLFI, and there is much to be questioned, I think, in that division. While that argument must rest for another day, the benefits of examining nodes of the oeuvre of a writer so senior and so prolific as Amarasekara must not be neglected.

Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri, pointed to this in his remarks, taking the non fictional critical text “Is Anagarika Dharmapala a Marxist?” as a node in the oevure as the text to re read. His point, if I may reformulate it somewhat, asked us to reconsider and re-read the author’s suturing of nationalism (Dharmapala) to Marxism in that work to enable the forging of a fresh alliance between left projects and older nationalist ones that both abhor crass consumerism, and violence as politics. Dewasiri, who to be fair, did correctly introduce himself as a political opponent of Amerekere’s, did not how ever rehearse what constituted that opposition. It is too well known, no doubt, and he was but a lone opponent on a panel of erudite and thoughtful proponents; tactically it was astute to seek points of agreement rather than disagreement.

But it’s Sunday now, and I’d like to go a little further. What are the boundaries of nationalism for Ameresekere? Wimal Dissanaike correctly walked us through an argument that underlined centrality of the nation to the novel, and Malinda Seneviratne built on this by invoking Liyanage Amarakeerthi, another opponent of Amarasekara, who has questioned the intersection between nationalism and fiction. Yet none bothered with telling us what counts as the nation. It echoed quietly in the room I thought, politely unsaid, but not unthought.

Dharmapala wasn’t given to such politeness. Writing to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, on the 15th of June, 1915, after the death of his brother Edmund in remand custody after the riots of that year he said, “…there will always be bad blood between the Moors and the Sinhalese.” Indeed he says more, in a broadside of criss crossed epithets, he calls the Moors of Ceylon both Jews and Germans, in his attempt to make clear to the bounds of his nation to the British. How does this sit with us today, after “Dambulla”? Should we really re read Dharamapala with a view to conserving something of utopian nationalism, in a socialist struggle against the crude venality of a society that has undoubtedly ceased even to understand the meaning of the word ethics?

I’d rather not. I’d rather take a cue from Dewasiri and go further back, yes, in Ameresekere’s ovoure to 1964, to one of those bad old novels that everyone has set aside, because it’s supposedly an exploration of sexual desire that’s really foreign to our national sensibilities.

Gandabbha Apadanya, ‘a life story in between incarnations,’ was published in 1964. It’s been republished twice since, suggesting that indeed it is widely read, but hardly commented on in contemporary times – the only critical paragraph I have read on it, is by Gevindu Cumaratunga, the tireless publisher-intellectual who has done so much to make Amekeresere’s work available to us. Yet that comment is all too brief. The trace of awkward triangulation of romance, utopia and communal boundaries between the Sinhala Gunaratne and the Tamil Rita, surely is of great value? There are no traces of the crude Dharamapala here; rather its description of 1958 ‘disturbances’ – I know no other in Sinhala fiction – are integral to, and ring true to the most sensitively lived life.

It will not do, I am very much afraid, to simply say, we are for or against the intersection of nation and the novel and then not tell us what counts as the nation and why. Ameresekere himself, has done so and well. I would urge we attend to his work, in all its fullness and power, even as we celebrate each new gem of his pen.

 

Sunday
Apr082012

Do Not Trample the Grass

For our part, as Sri Lankans, we need to own our own democracy, which is, beyond any doubt withering in the winds. There is a need, as I have been saying, to make our fundamental rights our business. While elections to the Northern Provincial council under the 13th amendment should be held sooner, rather than later (there is now some talk scheduling it), our more immediate and serious concern must be the rights of all our citizens, especially those in North and the East. When Elephants clash, it is the grass that is trampled.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Apr062012

Fundamental rights is our business

In any event, those who are investing in the North should understand the special responsibility placed on them; help build a real civil society in that province. Support fundamental rights; and make the possible suturing of economic growth to constitutional freedoms a strong one. This doesn’t take tub thumping or flag waving. It’s quiet work, and it needs to be done.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar252012

Thinking Through and Beyond the Sandahiru Saya

There is something to be said, as I’ve done before, for imagining a nation through death, without taking sides. Without trying to figure out, who was right and who was wrong, in an unending cycle of accusations and counter accusations. All we need to do is stretch our imaginations to encompass all those in our country who grieve.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar192012

Going Viral like Kony 2012: Five ‘Take Away’ Tips for Channel Four

There were, and I suppose still are expectations, The channel four video, “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: Unpunished War Crimes,” it’s going to go ‘viral.’ My sense is, no not really. But it’s pretty close to that viral edge though, and I think my tips are really going to help the next show in the series.

I must say I got all my tips from the masterpiece viral video, Kony 2012 a 53 min. video about an INGO, which has 82 million hits on YouTube as opposed to the first C4 video, Killing Fields (C4KF) which has only 230,000 clicks on YouTube. Why do they compare? Kony 2012 says it’s really about Uganda, and C4CU 2012 says it’s really about Sri Lanka. They are not; both really are about white people doing good and great things in the world. So they do compare.

So here are my tips:

(1) Narration: Kony 2012 is narrated by a youngish white guy, called Jason who runs around a lot, plays with his son, and does a really tight, sweet hug with a black kid he is saving from bad guys early on. C4CU is narrated by a old guy called Snow, who sits behind a desk, wears odd ties to try to look cool, and doesn’t hug anyone. That’s a fail right there, and plus, where is his little kid?

Take away: The Narrator has got to be a lovable white guy.

(2) The Good, the Bad and the Kid: It’s really important when you are doing a ‘rescuing helpless colored people from other colored people’ flick to establish right at the outset, apart from the obviously good white guys, who among the coloured guys running around are the good and bad guys. Kony 2012 has this down pat; right at the beginning, we are told that Gavin, Jason’s kid, only knows that his Dad “works in Africa.” Imagine saying that in kindergarden! Cool huh? But it gets better. When asked for more Gavin says, “you catch the bad guys like in Star Wars.” That was a clincher.

On the other side, if you sit through C4CU and the original, C4KF you may hear some boring stuff about Singalee and Taamul. Look, C4, drop that stuff, if you want to go viral.

Take away: Decide who your bad guys are. Keep it simple.

(3) Short Snappy names for the Bad guys: The bad guy in Jason’s video is a black guy called Joseph Kony. Short and snappy huh? It fits well on the T shirt, KONY 2012. (Yes, they are selling T-Shirts). No, he doesn’t tell us anything about this guy Kony’s ‘background,’ even how old he is, where he was born, or his Ethn..come on, he is a black guy ok, and he is a star wars bad guy. Learn from that, C4. You are never going to get anywhere near viral with characters like Valoopullaaaii some one, and MaahiNDhaa. Does not roll off the tongue in middle America.

Take Away: Call your bad guy ‘Duh.’

(4) You got to say US troops are going in. I cannot stress this point enough; it’s the climax of Jason’s film, Kony 2012. They show a letter Jason is reading out, signed by Obama, saying finally US troops are going in to get the bad guys, and everyone – there is for some reason a whole bunch of white people there -- starts clapping. Awesome. To be fair, C4 and Snow, R2P, O Canada and everyone involved has been trying hard to get this letter, and somehow, they didn’t get it. But here is where they need to understand that it’s fine to just write it up, like they did with most of the other stuff in their flick. This is just a movie, its fine! Rather than all those boring letters from the UN they show in their film, just one letter saying, ‘okay, we are going in’ would have been really worth may be 10-20 mil. clicks right there.

Take Away: Write up a letter from Obama.

(5). Do not show it to the natives: Do not be so stupid as to arrange a public showing of the flick to the natives you are rescuing. This is where Jason and his team really messed up. They were so taken with all the hits they were getting, , they put up a big screen in Northern Uganda and showed the movie to the natives. Bad move. Not only did they not want to buy the T Shirts, they even threw stones at the screen.

Take away: Show them a different movie obviously.

I hope this criticism will be taken constructively now; it’s just five basic points, ‘take aways’, as they say at business seminars. Do not forget to thank me, if the third C4 show does go viral.