Kony 2012: Some thoughts on a viral video


Have you seen the video already? As of Monday, March 12, the youtube counter was at 74 million views. Not bad for 6 days. The video, as I am sure you already know, was created by Invisible Children, and organization designed to advocate for the protection of children in central Africa and programs of help (tracking Kony’s militia, educating children, early warning detection, etc.). Their primary purpose is to (a) educate the world about the abuses and terrorism of Joseph Kony, and (b) keep up the political pressure on decision makers so that they do not drop the ball on the efforts to arrest Kony. If you are not aware, President Obama sent 100 military advisors to the region to support national troops in their search for Kony. Kony2012 is meant to maintain political and cultural pressure to keep searching for him (20 power brokers, 12 politicians= 2012).

Of course, with every good intention, comes criticism and controversy. You can read a number of complaints about the efforts. Invisible Children (IC)

  • advocate US military involvement in a foreign country where we do not have significant interests
  • spend only some 37% of donations in Africa on programs
  • imply in the video that Kony is attacking Ugandans when he hasn’t been there for 6 years
  • make no mention of the destruction by Kony in the DRC and the CAR.
  • further the idea that the white man needs to save Africa

Do a little homework and you realize that IC is promoting Kony’s capture (not death), is designed to be an advocate and not primarily a service program in Africa, and knows that Kony isn’t in Uganda anymore. I suppose the complaint that has the most merit is that the video perpetuates the idea that white people have to solve Africa’s problem. It might have been helpful to show what Africans are doing already.

So your thoughts? Does the video spur you on to help? Does the recent take downs of dictators fuel our willingness to remove tyrants from power? Should we solve other country’s problems? Given the DRC’s lack of a strong central government, ought we to act first and apologize later?

I would suggest that the video does its job in a bit of education with a focus on action steps. A video that just gives the gory facts (and pictures) often just traumatizes and paralyzes. It could have played up the footage in such a way as to make it seem like Africans are violent people–or corrupt. The film could have talked about the immense forests of the DRC and that finding Kony will be finding a needle in a haystack. Or, it could have played to all that IC has done in a self-promotional manner. Yet it did none of those things. It made mention of the need, the desire of Africans to bring Kony to justice, and the opportunity average people have to help leaders keep their eye on the ball.

My thoughts? Watch the video. Engage in some good conversation about how Christians can speak up about evils done to nameless/faceless people. Debate the merits of propaganda for a good cause. Discuss practical ways to influence power. Decide if IC is a good place for your funds and if not, find another doing the work you cannot do yourself. Speak up for justice. Review the electronic action kit.

Do something.

PS: Here is a great (bit long) perspective from Drs who have a deep and abiding love for Uganda and Jesus: http://paradoxuganda.blogspot.com/2012/03/on-kony-and-viruses.html

2 Comments

Filed under Africa, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, trauma

2 responses to “Kony 2012: Some thoughts on a viral video

  1. Karen

    I have been familiar with Invisible Children for a few years now. Our youth group brought their “tour” to our little town to help get the message out about Kony last year. I appreciate their desire to work with the people in Africa instead of swooping in to do things for them, and I also appreciate that they want to continue working with them on projects such as a rehabilitation center for the child soldiers. Obviously, all organizations have their faults, as they are run by humans. Could they do what they do in some better ways? Sure. But I find it much more appalling when I see comments on different posts stating things like “how is this a Christian cause?” and “We have enough problems of our own in this country. We need to let the third world take care of themselves.”

  2. The level headed encouragement for action rather than just mere discussion in this post is most appealing.

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