Last week, I received a link to a popular video and campaign. It’s about Joseph Kony who ran the LRA, or Lord’s Resistance Army, in Uganda by kidnapping children and turning them into soldiers who raped and killed their friends and family at his bidding.
He was indicted by the International Criminal Court at The Hague in 2005 on 33 counts of Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes.
The film, Kony 2012, has hit YouTube and social media sites, asking young people to pass it on and donate to the cause. And they have.
Because donating will allow them to share the message and find Kony so that he can be stopped and uh, … I’m sorry. What?
OK, grab a map and follow me.
A Canadian donating to an American site will help find a Ugandan warlord who’s been in hiding in the Congo for six years?
The idea behind the campaign is actually pretty nifty. The government will only send troops to help find Kony if they think American citizens are behind it.
So the campaign says: Make Kony famous. Americans get fired up. Government sends out the troops. Kony is caught. Children are safe.
Unfortunately, I’ve been drowning in the growing media propaganda surrounding this campaign.
The organization behind the video, Invisible Children has received mixed reviews from the Better Business Bureau and Charity Navigator.
Only 32 per cent of donations actually reach Uganda. Of course, this could just be typical organizational “growing pains.”
The film, itself, offers few facts about Kony or the LRA that don’t pre-date 2006. Current reports state that the LRA has dwindled to less than 250 and hasn’t been in Uganda for six years.
The campaign focuses on getting 20 Twitter-crazed “cultural icons” like Rihanna, Ryan Seacrest and Mark Zuckerberg involved – people more likely to tweet before asking any questions.
Zuckerberg might, if his Facebook wasn’t promoted throughout the film.
So while I don’t care which Twit is tweeting the message, you have to admit the method is effective.
There are also a lot of political questions about Uganda. It’s a dictatorship with a history of murder, rape and pillaging by government soldiers.
Then there’s the recent violent and forcible eviction of villagers – for the sake of “global warming” – that coincided with the discovery of large oil deposits in the area. And IC’s campaign supports their involvement?
Will this Make Kony Famous campaign succeed in capturing him? Doubtful. It’s just not as simple as the film would suggest.
But in a time when we are more connected than ever, I am continually amazed at our cultural ignorance. So I commend Kony 2012’s ability to make us take notice of the world beyond our backyard.
I’m proud that young people are willing to spend April 20 plastering Kony’s picture everywhere to make a statement.
Hopefully, they’ll tweet about other organizations in Uganda too.
But at least they’re doing something. And possibly Twitter (shudder) and a little “something” could one day change the world.
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