By Megan Burks
Ugandans, African Diaspora React to Kony2012 Campaign
Twitter, Facebook and comment boards were buzzing this week with reaction to a San Diego nonprofit’s viral video, “Kony2012.” The 30-minute video was the launch of Invisible Children’s web campaign to find and arrest Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Since the 1980s, Kony and his guerrilla fighters have been terrorizing Central Africa and South Sudan, kidnapping boys and turning them into children soldiers.
The video, which centers on mobilizing young, tech-savvy Americans to bring awareness to the issue, has faced backlash from Africans throughout the world. They say the video ignores their voices–Co-founder Jason Russell and his son’s reaction to Kony take up much of the film–and wrongly positions white, middle-class Americans as Africa’s savior.
The film asks viewers to “make Kony famous” by posting about him on social networks, hanging posters and calling on celebrities and U.S. policymakers to focus on the cause.
“It’s obvious that Kony should be stopped,” Russell says in the video. “The problem is 99 percent of the planet doesn’t know who he is. If they knew, Kony would have been stopped long ago.”
But critics say the problem is more complicated and needs to be solved in a way that prevents instability from erupting again in the future. They also point out that efforts on the ground–many run by Africans–have helped whittle Kony’s army down to about 250 fighters.
“It’s one bad guy against good guys and against we, the mighty West, trying to save Africa,” says Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire in a YouTube video for Al Jazeera. “I have a problem with that, because it’s the same narrative we have seen about Africa for centuries.”
Kagumire’s full video is below, along with a roundup of tweets and opinion pieces by Ugandans and African immigrants. Invisible Children’s response is also included.
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