invisble children: kony 2012 – a response

Invisible Children’s campagin to bring down Joseph Kony has gone viral!

IC is an organisation that strode to promence when they released videos about the tragic child soldiers in Uganda, the DRC and Sudan, many of which have been abducted by Kony’s Lord’s Resistence Army (LRA).

The IC Campaign sates:

KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.

But how do they seek to do this? And is this the best way?

The IC Kony 2012 campaign states:

We are taking action to ensure these two things

1) That Joseph Kony is known as the World’s Worst War Criminal.

2) That the U.S. military advisers support the Ugandan Army until Kony has been captured and the LRA has been completely disarmed. They need to follow through all the way and finish what they have started

Seems nobel enough. I myself would love to see the end of child soldiers and the violence, the murders, rape and kidnapping that the LRA has conducted since 1987.

The result of the very moving video that IC has produced, is that many people have jumped on the band wagon, perhaps premeturely.

As one writer says:

Doesn’t it feel good, battling evil African terrorists with your Facebook, your Twitter, maybe even your credit card? The Kony story is such a good yarn. It has the perfect villain, who eats small children for breakfast. Then with all the trappings of modern-day warfare – that is, a viral video and social media campaign – we can all be keyboard heroes marching to save the poor kids.

There has been much written on this topic and many responses have been given so far, I probably don’t have too much to add either. But I did want to point out two concerns with the OC campiagn.

Firstly, when does violence ever bring about peace? The IC campaign is based around “stopping Kony”. They state they seek to boost the Ugandan Army and pour in more US troops. I see this as essentially escalating the violence in an already war torn region.

Killing a leader does not result in peace. In fact, in may cases it can result in further violence, not to mention the increased violence in the mission to kill them. Far from protecting the people in this region from the ravages of war, in my view, it will only expose them to more violence and perhaps even for a longer period of time as militas and troops clash out of revenge.

Violence is not solved by more acts of vilence. Peace is not bought about by war. I am reminded of Paul in Romans 12:21, where he writes, Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good

Secondly, will stopping Kony deal with the real issues in these African nations? I think that the IC campaign to stop Kony and hence be the saviour of Africa is simplistic at best. Firstly, it reakes of a First-World-White-Saviour mentality which says that us westerners can come in and solve all of Africa’s problems. The fact that the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) – who, incidently, have also been accused of rape and murder – have been fighting the LRA for years without any success, seems to bear no weight in IC’s idea that a western, and indeed US, military could solve these complex African problems.

Indeed, as one blogger points out, Kony is not Africa’s or even this region’s biggest problem. Indeed, if it weren’t for issues such as poverty, education and disease, Kony would probably not have such a hold on this region as he currently does.

The Kony 2012 campaign does nothing to address these major issues of poverty, disease and education which will still be rife, with or without Joseph Kony and the LRA. In fact, I would argue that the Kony 2012 campiagn, if it goes ahead and is “successful”, will no doubt contribute to further poverty and disease – violence and conflict always does, particularly in developing countries.

There is much to be said about Kony being stopped. Indeed, he is an evil man who has committed terrible crimes. The LRA is a miltary force which also needs to be stopped. But the answer isn’t in more violence. It is in grass roots activity, and moving people out of poverty.

I realise that this is not a comprehensive article on all the issues surrounding Kony 2012. I also realise that many others have written about this issues (and most have written about it better than I ever could). To read some other articles see the links below.

— Jono

Life Remixed, Matt Anslow : Reflections on Kony 2012 []

The Punch, Tory Shepherd: ICB: Playing Heroes and Villians with Kony 2012 []

Selling Old Newspapers Shouldn’t be profitable: Invisable Children and Kony 2012 []

Visible Children: We got trouble []

Justice in Conflict, Mark Kertsen: Taking Kony 2012 down a notch []

UPDATE: See my newest post with some added reflections that were missing from this post: []

UPDATE 2: Invisible Children has released a post responding to many critiques raised. I might add that I am not critiquing IC themselves, for much of their advocacy work and film making I thoroughly applaud… I am only critiquing this particular campaign which I see has a noble premise (which I agree with) but is perhaps a misguided campaign and even then not all of it. Here is the link to Invisible Children’s response:

About Jono Ingram

Placemaker in Aintree in Melbourne's west, urban gardener, localist & neighbourhood enthusiast

Posted on March 8, 2012, in Aid and development, extreme poverty, poverty, War & Peace and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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