Friday, March 9, 2012

Invisible Children KONY 2012 and Ugandan Journalists - My thoughts

Posted in: ,
With the forthcoming American elections and all, when you see the first part of my title, you would think that was someone running for office, right? Well, you would be wrong. You may already have seen the video below or not, it has just gone viral in the last couple of days and was trending on Twitter. But as much as I think I'm plugged in, I missed it until Atala called my attention to it this morning. Kony is a rebel leader in Northern Uganda with a guerilla group under the name the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and has been operating for the past almost 30 years now. Of course I've heard about them, either in books, fiction, or snatches in the news. Somehow, the leader's name never stuck. Until now. Thanks to the video below.

My first reaction as I began to watch was, "Africa is not a country, geddit?" Then, Ahhh...the white hero comes to save Africa. But at the end of the video, I had to put aside my nationalistic and racial pride to focus on the core of the message of the video which is - Kony and his LRA are committing crimes against the civilians in Northern Uganda, he has been indicted by International Criminal Court, he is wanted by the Ugandan Government and I can help stop him, even from America. The question was, will I support Invisible Children to Cover the Night on April 20?

Since it was right beside the Kony 2012 video, and I wanted to fully satisfy myself that I have enough information to answer the question, I had to hear from the horse's mouth himself. This is an interview with Kony done about six years ago. I took most of what he said with a heavy dose of salt, of course. I think, if he's really genuine, he would come out of the bush and answer to the allegations against him. It is clear from the interview that he's open to peace talks and has been working with local authorities to stabilize the region. It is also obvious that why he does not have as much power as Invisible Children ascribes to him, he's a deluded man, and quite dangerous.

As I pondered the situation with Atala, I got an email from AfricaFocus, a Bulletin I subscribe to, containing a link to a video reply by a Ugandan Journalist. I think Rosebell Kagumire's response is on point and presents a more rounded and updated perspective on the issue of Kony, the LRA and Uganda. She laments the narrative that presents a single story of Africans as helpless and in need of outside/western salvation. It also asks questions about the American involvement in trying to arrest Kony. After watching it, I felt it was not as informative as it could have been, but I guess she wanted to put it out while the trending video was still a hot button topic.

There is also a link to her BLOG where I was able to get more information about Invisible Children and their campaigns. I also read an article by another Ugandan journalist who is from Northern Uganda where the LRA used to terrorize massively. Maureen Agema of The Citizen Journalist titled her piece, I am a visible child from Northern Uganda. Who are the “Invisible Children”? It is an emotive op-ed and states the danger of sidelining the work that is already being done by local authorities, and bringing in foreigners who may further alienate the rebels.

I get that, but still, I would not totally dismiss Invisible Children. Sure, their video is emotionally manipulative, it presents a western agenda, and it was not be as rounded or up to date as it could have. But we have to remember the video was intended for a predominantly American audience. The people behind Invisible Children are obviously not journalists, they are a charity, and they wanted a video that will move people enough to do something.

I choose to cut Invisible Children some slack because they have been on ground in Uganda for almost 10 years and there were a couple of Ugandan politicians and other local voices represented in the Kony 2012 video. Finally, we cannot lose sight of the fact that Kony is a criminal, he is a part of an ongoing war, and he needs to be arrested.


  1. I also watched this video and am connected to friends that was part of a grassroot committee to try to get to the root of what was going on and how come the government acts like they are invisible too. I will also continue to read more and be informed.

    1. Thanks Sidne, I think it is very important to be very informed in cases like this.

  2. There are no invisible children in Ugandan...Kony is no longer a threat to these people. The video only showed us so called politicians in Uganda,these are people who are obviously not even serving on any cabinet/seat in Uganda.

    This video sidelined the works of the Ugandan army in the last over 20years. It talked about how they have been donating money to build Uganda and all. It never showed us any of the army who have spent their lives fighting this menace.

    Kony is the least of worry for the Ugandans and the Invisible children can as well stop pouring petrol into a flame that is already dying.

    1. I disagree with you that there are no displaced children and refugees in Uganda, or that the video sidelined the works of the Ugandan army. It was made obvious that the call for help is for the advisers to continue to work with the local army and authorities.

      I do agree that outside charities have to be careful about the messages they pass around and how it may affect things on ground.

  3. Some say that the video is irrelevant because Kony is no longer a threat, but my view is that he still needs to pay for what he has done in the past. He still needs to be arrested and tried for his crimes against humanity whether or not he is still committing the crimes. Those whose lives he ruined need justice and I think the video did a decent job making Kony's story a household name in the states.

    1. I think he is very much relevant, if not currently in Uganda, then in DRC, CAR and South Sudan. The LRA has carried out some attacks in the last few weeks.

  4. It really pleases me to see that more Nigerians and Africans are critically thinking and asking questions before blindly supporting a movement.

    I am pretty much against IC and this show of theirs. I think that being on the ground in Uganda for 10 years they should have known better than to present and manipulate the facts the way they did. They made it seem like children in Uganda are still being captured and forced to kill when as Ugandans who have been on ground their whole lives have pointed out, the nodding disease is more of a problem than Kony right now.

    As people have said Kony is no longer in Uganda, so why is it that the video did not mention the country Kony is in? Then again, as you said Africa is a country so the video said something about the LRA moving into 'surrounding countries' and you know these 'surrounding countries' are in Uganda which is in Africa.

    I previously criticised IC for how they spent their donations after finding out that they only use about 30% of the money that goes into their organisation on charity work but apparently this is normal for charities. Charities are run like businesses so majority of the money you donate goes into the founders of the organisations can live extravagantly (spending millions of dollars on travel expenses, I'm sure they all flew first class) and then toss the leftovers at those that really need the money. Then again, maybe we should still be happy because a little something is better than nothing, abi?

    I believe that Kony should face punishment for the crimes he has committed. I also believe that those in the regions the LRA has operated in namely Uganda (though the LRA are not in Uganda anymore), the DRC, CAR and South Sudan have a right to live in peace. I cannot support IC and their Kony show because what they are calling for directly threatens this peace.

    I watched the video once and the message I got from it was that they want us to encourage US military intervention in Uganda. When has that ever been a good thing? (What is Afghanistan? What is Iraq?) Especially when you consider that last year, in October, the US government sent about 100 military advisers under its AFRICOM (Africa Command) unit into Uganda to combat the LRA. Not to mention that experts have suggested that the LRA tend to attack more when their under military pressure. Just a few days ago they attacked a town in the DRC displacing and abducting people, is this really what we want? For the LRA already on its last legs to make a resurgence because now Kony is famous in 2012?

    When you put in that oil was discovered in Uganda in 2009, things just get even more worrying. Let's not even mention how China's increased investment on the continent has the Western powers that be worried.

    1. Thanks for your detailed response. I agree that the video is quite simplistic. As for the way charities function, I lost most of the awe I had for them after I realized that, but good luck to them still.

      I doubt IC is asking for full scale military intervention, ala Iraq, but maybe more resources in training and intelligence.

  5. "Finally, we cannot lose sight of the fact that Kony
    is a criminal, he is a part of an ongoing war, and
    he needs to be arrested."

  6. You captured the thoughts of those of us who are skeptics, and you also gave enough hope for everyone...Really, I hope the guy gets captured. One thing is right, he indeed is deluded and dangerous.


Click Post a Comment to share your thoughts, I'll love to hear from you. Thanks!

*Comments on old posts are moderated and may take sometime to be shown. That's just because I want to see them and respond to you if necessary.