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03/08/2012

Joseph Kony: The video and the debate about Uganda

 

Many of you have probably seen this video about Joseph Kony, the  militia leader who has terrorized northern Uganda with killings, kidnappings, mutilations and torture.  

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Joseph Kony (AP/File Photo)

More than 50-million people have watched either on YouTube or on the website where it launched on Monday.  While the campaign has drawn praise, it has also sparked a debate whether the video and its use of social media has oversimplified a complex situation in Uganda.  

Blogger Musa Okwonga writes:

"About ten minutes into the video, the narrator asks his young son who “the bad guy” in Uganda is; when his young son hesitates, he informs him that Joseph Kony is the bad guy.  In a sense, he let Kony off lightly: he is a monster.  But what the narrator also failed to do was mention to his son that when a bad guy like Kony is running riot for years on end, raping and slashing and seizing and shooting, then there is most likely another host of bad guys out there letting him get on with it."

Journalist Joshua Keating, writing in Foreign Policy, raises two key issues:

"1) Joseph Kony is not in Uganda and hasn't been for 6 years; 2) the LRA now numbers at most in the hundreds, and while it is still causing immense suffering, it is unclear how millions of well-meaning but misinformed people are going to help deal with the more complicated reality."

Some have gone so far as to question the legitimacy of Invisible Children, which posted the video. The folks at Mashable.com pointed to a Tumblr called Visible Children.

"Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services (page 6), with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production. This is far from ideal, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability 2/4 stars because they haven’t had their finances externally audited. But it goes way deeper than that."

Invisible Children has responded to the criticisms with a post on its website:

"Invisible Children's mission is to stop LRA violence and support the war-affected communities in East and Central Africa.... We do not defend any of the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Ugandan government or the Ugandan army (UPDF). None of the money donated through Invisible Children ever goes to the government of Uganda or any other government. Yet the only feasible and proper way to stop Kony and protect the civilians he targets is to coordinate efforts with regional governments.... The goal of KONY 2012 is for the world to unite to see Kony arrested and prosecuted for his crimes against humanity."

How did you first learn about the video?  What are your reactions to the video and the discussions that have followed?   Click on comment to post your thoughts.

Comments

Lisa Folsom

Well as far as what he asked his son and told him, You must remember his son is very young and you have to be careful to wait you say to a young child. You don't want your young child to be afraid or in fear of his life. Or going to bed afraid of someone kidnapping him in the middle of the night, and have tremors everynight from this. And I know how organizations work with the funding, that's why I gave up donating to certain things years ago. Only 1% if any goes to the cause! I was upset with the fact they found him why was he not arrested than?

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