Going viral upon its release on March 5, “Kony 2012” is a documentary filmed to raise awareness regarding the Ugandan warlord, Joseph Kony, who abducts children and then turns them into child soldiers and sex slaves for his army, known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The documentary also says that he forces children to kill their own parents and mutilate people’s faces. Kony is among the International Criminal Court’s most wanted for his countless war crimes as well as crimes against humanity.
While this video definitely achieved its objective of making viewers more aware of what’s happening, I think it may be slightly distorted.
Invisible Children’s expenditures for last year were over eight million dollars, but only a third of it went to direct services or African programs. The rest was for advertising, awareness, and fundraising. Don’t forget about film production, transportation, and staff salaries, which was what the majority of its money was used for. Most donations aren’t even used to address the problem itself.
Its call to action is to sign the pledge of support, share the video, and donate a few dollars each month. Cool. So I can virtually pledge support (fluff), spread the video (more fluff), and give this organization money for a T-shirt and stickers and believe that my money is going to capture Kony. Portions of donations are used to fund scholarships and educational and livelihood programs, but do nothing to directly stop Kony.
The documentary also establishes an event known as “Cover the Night” on April 20. It encourages supporters to place posters and stickers in major cities across theUnited States. Their goal is to raise awareness to ensure that American advisors remain in Uganda to assist the Ugandan army. What supporters don’t know is that the Ugandan military has been also committing crimes, such as rape and looting.
The documentary also stated that Kony has not been active inUgandasince 2006, so it makes no sense why the Invisible Children Organization is supporting the Ugandan military.
Spamming of presidential campaign look-a-like posters won’t get the job done, and American advisors won’t necessarily either.
In fact, the U.S. has been involved with stopping him for years through the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM), which has attempted to find and capture Kony, but have failed many times. Each attempt has been reported to evoke retaliation. Plus, the film lacks information regarding what Africa itself is doing about Kony, such as Ugandan activists like Betty Bigombe or African organizations like Ushahidi or Africans Act for Africa.
It took ten years for the international and U.S. militaries to find Osama Bin Laden, so what makes supporters believe that one hundred Americans can find Kony this year? AFRICOM has already attempted to kill or capture Kony, but has failed.
I hate being pessimistic, but simply knowing about Kony and clicking share on Facebook once you see the thirty-minute video will not bring any results.