There will be very few people who won’t have heard of Joseph Kony by now, Kony has been huge news on the internet over the last week with obver 75,000,000 hits on youtube and 3,000,000 followers on facebook. The official site is here, watch the video (top right on this page) and see what you think. [For those who don’t know, a group of videographers in California made a film to promote their ‘Invisible Children Inc’ an NGO established in 2003 in Uganda, the “invisible children” are the children captured and enslaved by Joseph Kony and his Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda.]
Whilst we totally agree that this man should be arrested and charged with crimes against humanity, there is a nagging doubt in our minds as to whether this is the best way to achieve it. Even more of a concern are the motives behind Invisible Children Inc. Why are a bunch of white middle class activists stirring up the fragile emotions of a predominantly youth culture (Youtube say the majority watching Kony are 14-34yr olds) taking money from them, ($30 for the action kit….13m$ raised so far) and driving them to take to the streets on April 20th? Why are they directing everything back to the audience, rather than using the money directly to achieve their goal? They say that their action will make Kony ‘visible’ to the world, so he will have nowhere to hide. They ‘clearly’ don’t know Africa…(they are not even offering a reward.)
As several newspapers worldwide have pointed out, capturing or killing Joseph Kony will not solve the problem of the ‘Invisible Children’, in exactly the same way killing Osama Bin Laden has not silenced Al Qaeda. Is the NGO being naive in its thinking, or are they only interested in the process rather than the result?
More puzzling still is the factual basis of the platform or more correctly the lack of factual basis. According to this post, Kony and his LRA were pushed out of Uganda six years ago, and the army of 30,000 children is actually the accumulative number of abductions over 30yrs. It is this almost total lack of factual evidence in the film which makes us all the more cautious. (However, we believe that the abduction of even one child over any amount of time should be sufficient reason for arrest and charging.)
The thirty minutes of carefully constructed video instead focuses on heart wrenching shots of children, clever soundbites evincing calls to action, and hope, in the form of spreading the message and eliciting support from top celebrities. The growth is so fast, in terms numbers of supporters that no US politician dare stand against them, or so they have you believe, and of course at the end is salvation for all who donate or buy into the action pack, and take part on the key day of 20th April.
Forgive us for being cynical. Kony is definitely evil and needs stopping, but he is just one small aspect of life in Africa. AIDS and malaria kill millions a year in SSA, especially children, but are maybe too dull and ‘old hat’ to get a mention in the video.
So who do these people think they are? The great white hopes? saviours of Africa? or most likely, activists who have found a neat formula, and are out to make names for themselves. Maybe they are well meaning they however describe themselves as “We are storytellers. We are visionaries, humanitarians, artists, and entrepreneurs.” hmmm…sooo..not a hint of pretension….
What in effect is happening is that a flashmob of opinion from Facebook and Youtube etc is being used to lever policies, actions and events in Africa…and it isn’t pleasing everyone, particularly the Ugandan Government.
They vote with a “Like” in the US and a man gets arrested in Uganda or the Congo or…where ever he is….who’s going to be next…what if the next victim is innocent? The problem with ‘internet justice’ is that it isn’t regulated, it doesn’t have to be based on any sound principles such as truth or fairness, but as we are seeing, can, without any factual basis drive millions of people in one direction on a purely emotional ticket.
And why is this event crystallizing on 20th April? The call to action, when ‘every city in the world’ will have the banners and posters displayed to ‘out’ Kony?
There seems to be no answers from the ‘Invisible Children” folk. Maybe its just the date they think they’ll have peak following?
We looked hard for an answer but could only come up with a few suggestions:
Possible significance of 20th April:
Its Adolf Hitlers birthday (b.20/4/1889)
The day of the Columbine High School Massacre (20/4/1999)
Oil platform Deepwater Horizon explodes (20/4/210)
British comedian Benny Hill dies (20/4/1992) or is it something to do with 4/20..’Weed Day’ …the embodiment of cannabis culture?
We look forwards to the ‘great’ but mysterious day to find out what really happens.