News

Uganda's Rebel Leader Becomes Unlikely Trend on Twitter

The leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, Joseph Kony, answers journalists' questions following a meeting with UN officials in southern Sudan. (file photo)
The leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, Joseph Kony, answers journalists' questions following a meeting with UN officials in southern Sudan. (file photo)

An online campaign to defeat one of Central Africa's most notorious and elusive rebel groups has gone viral.  Twitter users around the world have inundated the micro-messaging site with calls to stop the Lord's Resistance Army and its leader Joseph Kony.

Messages tagged #StopKony2012 and #MakeKonyFamous lit up Twitter for the better part of the morning Wednesday, and were listed among the top trending topics worldwide.

 

The U.S.-based group Invisible Children, which is solely focused on bringing an end to the Lord's Resistance Army, started the online campaign to bring attention to a new film on the subject called "Kony 2012."

The Lord's Resistance Army started in northern Uganda in the late 1980s as a rebellion against the country's armed forces.  Under the leadership of Joseph Kony, the group evolved into a militant cult that has forcibly recruited thousands of children into its ranks, mutilated or killed tens of thousands of people across Central Africa and displaced many more.

The topic, which is unusual for the pop-culture-obsessed Twitter, gained momentum with the help of some celebrity heavyweights, including American singers Taylor Swift and Rihanna, who have both endorsed the Invisible Children campaign on the site.

To give an idea of just how much sway these celebrities have on Twitter, keep in mind that Rihanna has more than 14-million followers, which makes her more popular than U.S. President Barack Obama, who has less than 13 million followers.  

London School of Economics Professor Tim Allen has studied the LRA for years.  He says he is a bit of a “dinosaur” when it comes to Twitter, but he is impressed by the response to the campaign.

“I think it has been fantastic how Invisible Children has been able to access that kind of younger population of potential activists, people who perhaps do not think about what's going on in Central Africa very much,” said Allen.

But, like all topics on Twitter, which limits users to messages of 140 characters or fewer, the hype of the anti-Kony campaign tends to oversimplify the issue.

Allen says it is important to consider the Lord's Resistance Army within the wider political context of the region.

“Even if Kony is removed tomorrow the problems are not going to go away," he said. "There is a chronic wide-spread failure of governance in parts of Central Africa.  This is a part of the world in which hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people have been killed since the late 1990s in ongoing wars, and the Lord's Resistance Army and Joseph Kony himself is responsible for very, very few of those deaths.”

The Lord's Resistance Army, once thought to number in the thousands, is now believed to consist of only a couple hundred fighters.

But even in small numbers, the group has continued to attack villages in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.  

The United States sent 100 special-forces troops to the region last year to work alongside local forces, and to finish off the LRA once and for all.

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.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs