Now that the global social-media network and development critics alike have had sufficient time to ponder, and as news spreads that Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, is in peace talks, what is the final verdict on Kony 2012? We know now that the campaign was a bit misleading, as it inferred that Kony and his rebel army were still committing atrocities in northern Uganda, while they had actually been in hiding somewhere in either South Sudan, C.A.R or Congo (we now know C.A.R.) for some six years, depleted and in dissaray. When this came to be known in the Western World, along with questions about Invisible Children’s finances and its founder, there was a tremendous backlash against the advocacy group. As quick as it came, Kony 2012 went from being the most passionate and popular humanitarian advocacy campaign since Save Darfur, to a laughing stock and seriously “uncool.” Consequently, the campaign’s untimeliness and inaccuracies prevented Invisible Children from fulfilling its goal of having people all over the world marching for Kony’s arrest–assumedly, people didn’t want to be associated with such a failure.
But was it such a failure? The fact is, hundreds of millions of people are now aware of Kony and his atrocities. In the words of a professor of mine while I studied abroad in Gulu, Uganda, “Before Kony 2012, no one gave a shit. At least people know now.”
This may be true, but the video inappropriately characterizes the situation in northern Uganda, sidestepping more relevant and pressing issues. Ultimately, I feel the final word of Kony 2012 is left up to Ugandans; so, I present to you the following videos from a Ugandan advocacy group named “Uganda Speaks,” the first, representing the views of my professor, and the second of many Acholi:
As a sort of epilogue, I offer yet another video that I feel is very important not just in talks about Kony, but all humanitarian media initiatives. Kony 2012 further painted a picture of Uganda, and Africa as a whole, as a place of unimaginable savagery, violence and anguish. Though readers and contributors of this blog are probably well-versed in the tragedies of Africa’s past and present, war and suffering are not the entire picture.