News

Kony Campaign Creates Blizzard of Commentary and Concerns

Joseph Kony, Lord's Resistance Army leader and one of the world's most wanted rebel chiefs (2006 file photo)
Joseph Kony, Lord's Resistance Army leader and one of the world's most wanted rebel chiefs (2006 file photo)
Nico Colombant

While a U.S.-made social media awareness campaign against a wanted Ugandan rebel leader has been hugely successful in terms of attention, it has also created a blizzard of commentary, some of which has become viral in its own way.  

Commentary by government officials, human rights activists, scholars and ordinary citizens has been continuing at a rapid clip days after the U.S.-group Invisible Children released a 29-minute video which has been viewed tens of millions of times.

One popular method has been to post a video response.

Ugandan blogger Rosebell Kagumire has become a celebrity in her own right, fielding multiple media interviews, and receiving thousands of emails since posting her own video.

Like others, she complains about how the widely watched video has an American narrator and central character, filmmaker Jason Russell, portraying himself as a video crusader for justice in Africa. “This is another video where I see an outsider trying to be a hero, rescuing African children. We have seen these stories a lot in Ethiopia. Celebrities coming in Somalia. It does not end the problem. I think we need to have sound intelligent campaigns that are geared towards real policy shifts rather than a very sensationalized story that is out to make just one person cry and at the end of the day, we forget about it," she said.

Amid the mounting criticism, the filmmaker himself made a new video, thanking all the viewers and responding to some of the concerns.

Russell has also defended the way he made his movie. It shows how he educates his own son about how other children, the LRA’s roving child soldiers and their victims, are being abused. “We just want to thank you. Thank you for believing in the story that we know is going to change the world. It is going to change the world. And we know there are a lot of questions out there. We see them online. We have been reading them and we have provided a new page on our website that answers a lot of those questions so just please go there and read for yourself our very clear answers because this is not our movement. It is a name. It is Invisible Children but it is your movement, you started this with your money and we are here to serve you," he said.

The movie contains lots of images of U.S. high school students protesting, raising their fists in unison.

The website also has several links to donate, where small amounts of contributions are suggested.

It also sells tee-shirts, bracelets, stickers, buttons, posters, all of which can be bought in a so-called action kit.  

The movie and website call on young Americans to lobby their lawmakers so the U.S. government can keep pushing in its fight against the LRA. The campaign also asks people to take part in a poster campaign April 20, plastering as many as possible to call for Kony’s capture this year.

Last year, the Obama administration sent 100 military advisors to Central Africa to help Uganda’s military and other African security forces wipe out the LRA.

The group, which now has an estimated several hundred members, continues to wage attacks, mostly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Experts believe the group’s leaders, including Kony, if he is still alive, are hiding in the remote and difficult to operate terrain of the Central African Republic.

The group, which was originally based in northern Uganda, has been waging attacks on civilians, including mutilating their faces and abducting children, for over two decades.  

For years, it has been a favorite target of U.S. activist groups and lawmakers interested in Africa.

In 2005, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Kony to face charges of crimes against humanity, but he has eluded capture, including during a previous 2008 U.S.-aided military effort.

Mark Drumbl, a law professor at Washington and Lee University, is also concerned about the scope of the movie’s stated goal, which is to obtain Kony’s capture.

Drumbl is an expert on child soldiers who wrote a book called “Reimagining Child Soldiers in International Law and Policy.” “The end game of the video is the capture of Joseph Kony. However, the capture of Joseph Kony and his arrest and let us say his prosecution and conviction by the International Criminal Court is no panacea.  It is not necessarily going to stop LRA activity nor is that necessarily going to bring justice to the many victims.  Criminal law is a small slice of an overall justice conversation. And at the end of the day, we cannot substitute the western ideal of justice for what many local communities may most want which is peace, stability, reconciliation and moving on, and I think we need to tread carefully," he said.

Other common criticism of the video has been that a focus on capturing Kony may militarize the situation even further, with more help for security forces also known for committing abuses, while taking away from other priorities such as pushing for better development and governance in the very marginalized affected areas.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs