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Multimedia Slideshow: Inspiration

April 11, 2011

The subject of a multimedia slide show project was briefly touched upon a few weeks ago.  Since then, I have been glued to duckrabbit.com for inspiration for this project.  All I can say is I hope that I can take something from the amazing short multimedia slides I have seen.  What makes these videos so exciting is the way they can make one feel in just the few minutes that they run.  The fact that anything can be so engaging with only a few minutes to engage with the audience is testament to the power that these incredibly short films possess.

A back story to this multimedia slide show provided from Gerard Prunier’s excellent book on the War in the DRC, “Africa’s World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe.”:

A fatal combination long primed this vast country for bloodshed. It is wildly rich in gold, diamonds, coltan, uranium, timber, tin and more. At the same time, after 32 years of being stripped bare by the American-backed dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, it became the largest territory on earth with essentially no functioning ­government.

Then it was as if waves of gasoline were poured onto the tinder. When the Hutu regime that had just carried out the genocide of Rwanda’s Tutsis was overthrown in 1994, well over a million Hutu fled into eastern Congo, then known as Zaire. These included both the génocidaires and their defeated army (the abandoned armored car in Bunia was theirs) as well as hundreds of thousands of Hutu who had not killed anyone but who feared reprisals at the hands of the Tutsis now running Rwanda.

In their militarized refugee camps, the génocidaires rearmed and began staging raids on Rwanda. To try to put a stop to this and install a friendly regime in the huge country next door, Rwanda, along with Congolese rebel allies, invaded its neighbor in 1996 in what is known as the “first war.” Mobutu’s kleptocracy in Kinshasa rapidly crumbled; the dictator fled overseas and died a few months later. Laurent Kabila, a portly veteran of some years as a rebel in the bush and many more as a shady businessman in exile, now found himself leader of a Congo where almost all public services had collapsed. He was not the man to fix them. Stearns gives a vivid anecdotal picture of Kabila as someone far out of his depth, trying to run a government by literally turning his house into the treasury, with thick wads of bills stashed in a toilet ­cubicle.

Kabila soon parted ways with his Rwandan backers. Then came the “second war”: an invasion by Rwanda and its ally Uganda in 1998. They failed to overthrow Kabila, however, because, dangling political favors and lucrative business deals, he enlisted military help from several other countries, principally Angola and Zimbabwe. A few years later he was assassinated and succeeded by his son Joseph. Eventually, a series of shaky peace deals ended much of the fighting.  Like layers of an onion, the Congo war contains wars within wars.  For example, Uganda and Rwanda fell out badly with each other and fought on Congo soil. Each country then backed rival sets of brutal Congolese warlords who sprang up in the country’s lawless, mineral-rich east. And when Rwanda’s Hutu-Tutsi conflict spilled over the border, it fatally inflamed complex, longstanding tensions between Congolese Tutsis and other ethnic groups. This is merely the beginning of the list.

It is undoubtably the horrifying tale that this story tells that has the most impact.  What has happened to these children is abhorrent and to be honest, sickening.  When you read of atrocities such as these, it seems that, most likely as a subconscious measure, the reader separates themselves from what they are reading about.  No one would ever want to experience what these people have gone through, and when one is reading about such acts in the safe clutches of Australian suburbia, it is only natural that one would want to separate themselves from such despair, as it is easy to do so when forced to use imagination to conjure images of these atrocities.

However, it is not so easy to shut oneself out when viewing this multimedia slide show.

The still images as opposed to video, make it feel as if the viewer is catching a moment in time that may have slipped by had it been a video recording, or told through print.  The drawings from the children are so innocent, as all children’s drawings are, however, once the viewer realises what they are seeing is the artistic renderings of what these children have gone through, it really hits home.  The fact that such a colourful image, drawn with crayon in the hands of a child, is actually a picture of  a child remembering what he was forced to do to people is hard to watch, but this could not be conveyed nearly as well through print or video.  The images are so strong and vivid and this, coupled with the emotive music, is what really makes this devastating, but necessary viewing.    If more of these sorts of slide shows were produced, perhaps the world would take notice of the war that is the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II, so far killing more than 6 million people.

It is on this style of multimedia slide show that our team will model our project on, and hopefully produce something that will leave its mark as this piece of work has done for us.

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