Life is a balancing act, and sometimes emotional responses to external stimuli requires some research; especially when those emotional responses are ridiculed and debunked by others. This is what’s happening with the Kony 2012 campaign and the video that started the storm.
So who is Joseph Kony? He is the youngest of six children born into an Acholi family in Uganda. His father was a teacher and a Catholic layman. Years of tribal fighting, and then fighting against government forces, honed Kony’s skills as a leader. The appointment of an Acholi to a government position was a brief victory; brief because this led to the arming of the Acholi people against Kony and his forces. Kony’s feelings of betrayal led to his actions against his own people. Child abductions began in 1992 when Kony decided that children were blank slates that he could mold according to his wishes. The government erected IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons Camps), but even there the people weren’t safe. In 2005, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Kony charging him with Crimes against Humanity.
The Kony 2012 campaign comes from Invisible Children, a faith based organization, whose mission is to make the world aware of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and to provide protection, rehabilitation, and development assistance in areas that have been affected by them. Invisible Children has addressed the accusations leveled at them. Their response attempts to hit every contentious point: their finances, charges of oversimplification and exaggeration, criticism of a photo of their founders with guns, and the “white man as savior” complex.
In 2006, James wrote a blog stating: “Invisible Children was founded in 2004, with the film crew filming in Uganda in 2003. Watching Invisible Children is watching old news. Will watching it alert you to what has occurred in Uganda? Yes, but it will not let you know what is happening there today.”
The LA Times points out the dangers in overlooking the abusive actions of the Ugandan government: “The fear is that in the rush to capture Kony, the problems with Museveni could be overlooked or exacerbated. Opposition leaders have argued in the past that the threat from the militias has helped Museveni keep Western support. Uganda has been somewhat shielded from criticism of its human rights abuses because the U.S. relies on its army, Human Rights Watch recently wrote.”
And then there are the statements of people from Uganda and other African countries: Angelo Opi-aiya Izama (Uganda) writes, “The simplicity of the ‘good versus evil,’ where good is inevitably white/western and bad is black or African, is also reminiscent of some of the worst excesses of the colonial era interventions. These campaigns don’t just lack scholarship or nuance. They are not bothered to seek it.”
Jacob Acaye, the boy from the video, is now 21 years old and is a law student in Uganda. In a telephone interview with a British newspaper, Jacob says, “It is not too late, because all this fighting and suffering is still going on elsewhere, until now, the war that was going on has been a silent war. People did not really know about it.”
Personally, I think it’s great that an issue halfway around the world has garnered so much passion that millions have viewed a video and perhaps taken action to alleviate the situation by donating money or volunteering to paper the world with Kony 2012 posters in April. But I also know that I live in a country with many problems that also need our passion and our attention. Echoing words in this article; we have people living in fear, we have an inadequate education system where many do not have the chance to go to school, and for those who do, there may not be a job for them even with a university degree. Why doesn’t anyone want to do something about these problems?