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.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora