Bonga Media is an international non-governmental organization based in Lorain, Ohio. This organization is involved with projects dealing with media in the African country of Uganda. Involvement in developing African nations is common among non-profits, but Bonga Media takes a unique approach by targeting the development and education of Ugandan communication networks and skills. Bonga Media approaches its Ugandan development initiative through two strategies: the creation of films that stress the need for a global community and the education of Ugandans on the use of communications technologies. Bonga Media was created by Callie King (callie@bongamedia.org) and Tristan Rader (tristan@bongamedia.org). The organization was formed in 2009.
In Bonga Media’s films, Uganda takes the spotlight. The group has created films focusing on aspects in dire need of development within the nation of Uganda. For example, one short film is entirely composed of footage demonstrating the conditions of roads in the Ugandan city of Uganda. The roads are clearly an issue as all shown are made of dirt and clearly make it difficult to travel quickly and efficiently. The narrator relates facts collected by The Media Association of Northern Uganda and describes how to get involved with improving road conditions in Uganda. This video is an example of Bonga Media’s dedication to identifying an issue and exposing it to the world, so the global community can resolve it together. In an assortment of these videos as well as on the group’s website, Bonga Media describes the importance of being a hands-on organization where they are actively involved in the nation of Uganda. By being present in Uganda on their production and educational trips, they learn the
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Bonga Media’s second stratagem for helping Uganda develop fits directly into the creation of films. The crew at Bonga trains Ugandans on the operation of communications equipment while creating films about Uganda. In fact, many of the films that inspire viewers to get involved in Uganda’s development were partially created by Ugandans. The organization has a public description of their communications literacy plan. The plan documents the goals and milestones they hope all Ugandans that receive their training will accomplish. Video, audio, and social media are the main focus groups of Bonga Media’s training programs. Bonga Media has footage documenting their crew training Ugandans on communications technologies like cameras and editing software. In harmony with their attempts at creating a global community, Bonga Media also has footage of their crew learning from Ugandans. These Ohioans are taught the skills of bag weaving and create relationships that transcend national borders.
Opportunities in getting involved with Bonga Media are limited currently, but Bonga does have a history of fundraising through the Bowling Green, Ohio community. The group has called upon the attendees of Klazel Entertainment’s Konkrete Jungle attendees to help fund their work. Last semester, the group hosted a benefit event alongside a Konkrete Jungle event in which a portion of the entry fees went to Bonga Media. This event was also an educational opportunity as it was specifically aimed at redirecting the energy generated from Invisible Children’s “Kony 2012” campaign. Invisible Children created a campaign aimed at ending the warfare in Uganda lead by Joseph Kony. This particular campaign gained worldwide attention through the internet, but Bonga Media felt much of the information was misleading and painted
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an untrue and outdated picture of Uganda.While they were encouraged by such a mass audience being captivated by Uganda’s story, the group felt there were more sophisticated forms of aid. They encouraged patrons of Konkrete Jungle to research updated information on Uganda to find ways to help and not just rely on Invisible Children’s 10-year-old story of Joseph Kony’s violence. They also offered their own information on Uganda’s state, drawing from their experience in the country and their contacts with Ugandan media outlets.
In my personal opinion, Bonga Media has an excellent non-profit mission. Their well- defined strategies have been analyzed on a critical level and allow the group to avoid the pitfalls of many international missions. Drawing on class discussions, the group actively works to create relationships with Ugandans and humanize Uganda in the eyes of the viewer which transcends the sociological phenomenon of the “others”. By giving Ugandans the ability to communicate to the world, Bonga Media is allowing Uganda to steer its own development by directly conveying its needs, effectively cutting out the middle man.