Some thoughts on the Kony 2012 You Tube sensation

March 13, 2012 at 6:10 am 1 comment

It depends what you read, but as I write this, the Kony 2012 You Tube video made by ‘Invisible Children’ has definitely gone viral with between 75 and 100 million hits in just over a week. Whatever, definitely viral. If you haven’t seen it and would like to, here’s a link. The 30 minute video presents the case against Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a group ( of insurgents? terrorists? political fighters? call them what you will) based in the general area of  Uganda.  He and another 4 leaders are wanted by the International Criminal Court (based in The Hague, Netherlands),  for crimes against humanity. The ICC arrest warrants were issued in 2005. To read more about the charges against them, go here. The atrocious activities of the LRA have been known for many years, so for some the video is not a new story.

The LRA has been active (primarily in Uganda, but also in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic), since 1987, and they are supposedly a Christian-based group. They have been responsible for many massacres, abductions,  using of  kidnapped children as soldiers, sexual enslavement, torture and rape. The LRA are believed to have left Uganda several years ago, and their whereabouts seem not to be known at this time.

There is no doubt that the video campaign is a very effective piece of film making and marketing: it has brought the LRA and Kony to a much wider audience and it has a very clear set of  ‘calls to action’  (donate, buy the promotion pack, pass the video on, put up posters, put pressure on public figures and politicians to take action). It would be a hard-hearted person who could watch the video and not be extremely moved by the awfulness of  it.

However, the troubling thing is that at the same time as the video has been so embraced by millions, significant numbers of people are casting doubt on the whole thing (see this article for example). Ugandans and people who have been to Uganda more recently argue that the situation in Uganda is no longer as it was when the LRA was running amok. There are questions about what happens to the funds raised, who is backing the Invisible Children charity, and even accusations of homophobia. To counter some of this disquiet, Invisible Children has released a second video which encourages those who have questions to tweet them at #askICanything.  We await their answers.

I feel sure that all the truths we need to know will be revealed, and I hope that Invisible Children is truly legitimate. I hope too, that Jospeh Kony and his fellow leaders are caught and brought to justice (but they have eluded capture for over 20 years, including several US-supported efforts), in which case the campaign will have achieved one of its’ goals.

Entry filed under: Social justice issues. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Mici  |  March 13, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Whilst it is said that Kony is no longer in Uganda, he is still operating in kidnapping, prostituting young girls, turning children into soldiers and fathering who knows how many children, he is just doing this in another country or region. I think if the video opened people’s eyes to what he (and I am sure others) is doing, hopefully 3 things:- people will donate to an organization that can help/support families affected by Kony. People in countries that could be impacted by Kony have the opportunity to be educated by the video. People in developed countries like Australia have an understanding and compassion for refugees who could of been a direct or indirect victim of Kony’s.


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