Our guest blogger today is Jesse Oxford, principle at OX CREATIVE (www.oxcreates.com), and the innovative mind behind the 2015 Summit Offering Video. Below, Jesse tells the behind-the-scenes story of shooting on location in Uganda.
Nothing great grows in a comfort zone. Good things might grow there, but nothing truly great. Most inspiring leaders and innovators have at some point in their career or life, needed to make a decision to leave the “known” behind and step into what feels uncomfortable.
Abraham left Ur to go to a land that God would show him…not a land God had already shown him. Uncomfortable. Jesus left heaven and became a human. Uncomfortable. The son of a military dictator apologizing to a nation for war crimes his father committed. Uncomfortable.
Our film crew was sitting in the dark lobby of a hotel, waiting for Jaffar Amin, the son of Idi Amin, a brutal Ugandan military dictator. Our team from OX Creative had just arrived in the capital city of Kampala to capture stories for the GLS.
Flashback to two nights prior: We wheeled a cart, towering with film gear, to the customs desk at Uganda’s Entebbe International airport. The customs officers, both under the age of 25, asked us what we are doing with all that gear. When we responded that we were making a film about Idi Amin, they laughed out loud. Right in our faces. No joke. “You know someone already made that documentary. Yes—last year.”
Things got uncomfortable quickly. You could tell by their facial expressions that they found us silly. That three Americans had just traveled around the world to do something that had already been done. We thought we were doing something new and significant. But, really, we were hot on the heels of an old story. Our work was insignificant. And it was their job to set us straight.
Great. We thought. We’ve been here less than an hour and someone already thinks what we’re doing is a waste of time.
But—nothing great grows in a comfort zone.
In the 50 years of its existence as an independent state, Uganda has never has a peaceful transition of power. The 1970s were a particularly bloody period in its history. Under the leadership of Idi Amin, more than 300,000 Ugandans were killed or went missing. No family in Uganda has been untouched by war. But evidently to a new generation, this was old news. Their parents’ problem. Irrelevant.
We weren’t even supposed to be in Uganda. Our team had originally planned to go to Sri Lanka, but the civil war had closed the borders to journalists. So we rerouted the front end of the trip, skipping Sri Lanka completely, and headed to Uganda.
Our assignment was to capture the story of Bishop Joshua Lwere, an amazing GLS leader, and Jaffar Amin, the son of Idi Amin. For them, the wounds of the country’s past go deep and are anything but “old news.” Together the pair has been working to bring reconciliation to the many tribes that had been divided by a long history of conflict.
So as we waited in the hotel for Jaffar to arrive, we wondered: how comfortable will he be discussing his family’s past? His father’s rule? The crimes against humanity? And how do you tactfully broach these topics in the course of an interview? Interviewing the son of a mass murderer about his father’s actions was a first for us. It was outside our comfort zone. But not Jaffar’s.
“Let me tell you about my father,” he began almost immediately after we met. We never even asked. He just started talking, telling us story after story of his father. Stories both of a loving father—and a powerful leader. Stories of being flown via helicopter to school during the civil war. Rumors of murders his father had committed. Over the course of five hours together in the car, he spoke almost non-stop.
Until we arrived in the village of Manafwa.
Jaffa grew quiet. As we grew closer, his eyes stared straight out the window, looking from house to house. Tree to tree. Here in Manafwa, decades earlier, his father had violently wreaked havoc on his opposition. For the people living in this community, the impact of the rapes and murders were all to fresh. And Jafar was about to step out of the vehicle and face them. We could tell he was about to step outside his comfort zone.
The vehicle slowed to a stop beside a large tent filled with hundreds of people, including Bishop Joshua Lwere, who has devoted himself to bringing healing to his nation. Lwere was standing on the stage in the middle of a series of outdoor reconciliation events inspired by the Global Leadership Summit. In a matter of minutes, Jaffar would step out of the vehicle and walk onto the stage. He would face the widows and families of the deceased. And he would ask for forgiveness.
In a place where so many died, something great would begin to grow—something so great that it could only grow outside a comfort zone.
OX Creative has a passion for helping organizations who are working to do good. We help organizations achieve their missions through effective creative communication. Learn more about team’s work at oxcreates.com.
Written by: Jesse Oxford, Alex Mills & Corry Weins