Kony 2012 – what really happened when
KONY 2012 – Invisible Children – the “dream evangelists” – created a viral buzz with a 29-minute documentary on Joseph Kony, the leader of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army. Kony uses stolen children to fight his fight. Invisible Children want you to notice Kony. On April 20 it will push once more for those in power to help.
Wired‘s Spencer Ackerman:
The visually sophisticated documentary tells the story of the Lord’s Resistance Army’s brutal history in Uganda — it doesn’t say much about Kony’s flight to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic — mostly through the eyes of Jacob, a child refugee whose brother was killed by the militia. At one point, the boy says he would prefer to die rather than to live in the world Kony has made. It hits like an emotional sledgehammer.
And that lays the foundation for the campaign the movie essentially advertises. The nonprofit group behind it, Invisible Children, supports President Obama’s recent deployment of 100 military advisers to Uganda to help its army hunt Kony, a decision that required years of grassroots demands from humanitarian activists. In order to make sure the pressure keeps up, and Kony is ultimately arrested — this year — Invisible Children wants to plaster the cities of the world with red, visually striking KONY 2012 posters, stickers and t-shirts.
The video is essentially a plea to take the campaign viral in time for a planned action on April 20, in which Invisible Children hopes to mass-advertise KONY 2012 that night, globally, so the world will “wake up to hundreds of thousands of posters.” Action kits containing stickers, posters, bracelets, information and t-shirts are going for a $30 donation on the group’s website. And the filmmakers want to enlist celebrities, athletes and politicians for the campaign, everyone from Sen. John Kerry to Bono to Mark Zuckerberg.
Mark Kersten at Justice in Conflict notes:
It is hard to respect any documentary on northern Uganda where a five year-old white boy features more prominently than any northern Ugandan victim or survivor.
[L]et’s get two things straight: 1) Joseph Kony is not in Uganda and hasn’t been for 6 years; 2) the LRA now numbers at most in the hundreds, and while it is still causing immense suffering, it is unclear how millions of well-meaning but misinformed people are going to help deal with the more complicated reality.
The group is in favour of direct military intervention, and their money supports the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces.
(…) Is awareness good? Yes. But these problems are highly complex, not one-dimensional and, frankly, aren’t of the nature that can be solved by postering, film-making and changing your Facebook profile picture, as hard as that is to swallow. Giving your money and public support to Invisible Children so they can spend it on supporting ill-advised violent intervention and movie #12 isn’t helping. Do I have a better answer? No, I don’t, but that doesn’t mean that you should support KONY 2012 just because it’s something.
Voices From Africa:
“This is me talking about the danger of portraying people with one single story and using old footage to cause hysteria when it could have been possible to get to DRC and other affected countries get a fresh perspective and also include other actors.”
Solome Lemma writes:
“[It] paints the people as victims, lacking agency, voice, will, or power. It calls upon an external cadre of American students to liberate them by removing the bad guy who is causing their suffering. Well, this is a misrepresentation of the reality on the ground. Fortunately, there are plenty of examples of child and youth advocates who have been fighting to address the very issues at the heart of IC’s work.”
“From Sachs to Kristof to Invisible Children to TED, the fastest growth industry in the US is the White Savior Industrial Complex,” Cole writes. “The white savior supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening.”
“It is a slap in the face to so many of us who want to rise from the ashes of our tumultuous past and the noose of benevolent, paternalistic, aid-driven development memes. We, Africans, are sandwiched between our historically factual imperfections and well-intentioned, road-to-hell-building-do-gooders. It is a suffocating state of existence. To be properly heard, we must ride the coattails of self-righteous idiocy train. Even then, we have to fight for our voices to be respected.”
Did you play the Kony 2012 drinking game?
To play, you will need: eight (8) pickleback shots; one (1) Brandy Alexander; one (1) bowl Feuerzangenbowle; one (1) six-pack of Tusker Lager; one (1) jar green Play-Doh; one (1) bottle of Zima; one dozen (12) chocolate chip cookies; one (1) My Little PonyTM cocktail made of equal parts Malibu rum and Sunkist orange soda (generally used for statutorily raping 14 year olds); three (3) bottles of wine, one (1) brick wall.
Making 27 million people aware of Kony in one go is brilliant. I couldn’t pull this off and I spent years schlepping round the world doing talks, writing articles, a book, a stage show, scripts when I should have been making money writing rom coms.
But to stop Kony you need to understand he’s a con. Uganda has one of the toughest armies in Africa. 40,000 troops to Kony’s 200-250. And they can’t stop him? Not enough money or equipment? Uganda’s President Museveni just bought a $750million fighter jet. If he cared about stopping Kony he would have spent it on military equipment for flushing Kony out the jungle.
Look at the facts. Kony’s been doing this for 26 years?
How awful. Who was the poor person supposed to stop Kony for 26 years?
Uganda’s President Museveni. Poor chap, he probably didn’t have the money. He is African after all. He’s probably living in a hedge.
Hang on, what’s this two billion pounds he’s had over the last few years? Perhaps he stole it. He is African after all.
Hang on, it came from the UK government. Where did they get it?
From you, the British taxpayer. You paid for Kony NOT to be stopped for 26 years.
No wonder Museveni didn’t stop Kony, it was worth two billion quid from Britain alone (the USA committed another $250million in 2010) to act the helpless African leader who couldn’t stop this evil African monster. Forget about cliches for a minute. A fat chunk of UK aid is specifically earmarked for ‘reconstruction’ ie cleaning up after a man who was conveniently still making a mess.
Why do Britain pay a fortune to Museveni? Because he’s their official success story in Africa. The fact he’s turning into a three term dissident-shooting nightmare for Ugandans is hushed up, especially as his supposedly incapable army are the ones kicking arse on our behalf in Somalia.
I totally believe the State Department want their 100 advisers to stop Kony. I’ve met Yanks, they’re nice. I’ve lived there for 11 years. They hate kids being tortured as much as the Ugandans do. But Ugandans know the full picture.
So let’s stop being conned. Kony is a Con Trick if the people supposed to stop him don’t want to stop him.
In 2008 the Americans helped the Ugandans launch a massive surprise attack on Kony. Kony escaped at the last minute. Well, I expect he used some kind of weird African juju.
Or a Nokia.
Because the Ugandan army LEAKED THE INFORMATION THEY WERE COMING so he could escape in time. It’s not me saying this, it’s the most respected source in African journalism, Africa Confidential Vol 52 – N° 23. (subscribe now)
The ‘hunt’ for Kony is a convenient excuse to build up a military state. Museveni’s brutal election campaign in Northern Uganda and cold blooded murder of protestors (HRW reports galore) was military enforced. It’s Egypt but the people are too sodding poor to sit in a square till he goes.
The obvious western/Africa arguments are there for others to make. Very pleased “bring him alive not dead” is upfront as a Bin Laden-style assassination would be a lot more convenient to the US’s most useful friend in Africa, the man who never catches Kony, President Museveni of Uganda. Dead men don’t tell tales about human riots violations by golden boy presidents etc.
We need a second movie called Museveni 2012. Make Museveni famous. Whose job is it to Stop Kony? Museveni. If he hasn’t it’s because he didn’t want to