Kony 2012: What Uganda didn’t need

Published: March 11, 2012

Will this be the video that starts a war?

Sixty seven million views inside just five days is a clear indication of a video gone viral. Such is the power of social media today that Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony has now taken over not only the minds of Ugandan children, but the homepages of millions of people abroad.

Chances are that you have already gone through the 30-minute long video, but if you somehow have managed to avoid those posts, memes, tweets or messages, here’s a summary

– Joseph Kony is one of the World’s most wanted war criminals.

– He has been accused of capturing, training and equipping thousands of child soldiers to formulate an army.

– He is at the top of the International Criminal Courts wanted list.

– He is the leader of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and is known to have 42 children and 62 wives, typical of your average African warlord.

The project, Kony 2012, is a social experiment. One that aims to bring his actions and crimes into the minds of every child, teen or adult that has the ability to watch a YouTube video, and the patience to watch it for half an hour. But going a step further, the makers of this video the “Invisible Children Inc” has asked the United States to step up boots on ground in Uganda from its current number of 100 to help find and terminate Joseph Kony. To say that this project has been anything but a success would be blatantly wrong, the video has already gotten reactions from the top names in the world, including incidentally the likes of Rihanna and Justin Bieber. However, this is going to have a number of affects on Uganda, not all of them as simple as you would believe.

While the attempt to create awareness about the “invisible children” and their stories, truly tragic, is an applaud-able one, it does raise the question of whether asking for US forces in Uganda was what the doctor ordered. Talk of this much needed intervention has already become a common rhetoric with people tweeting and planning show-of-support rally’s to forward their agenda.

However, the United States has an economy that’s already down on its knees because of the large bills in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is also ironic to see the public which has vocally been against those two wars of late, has been singing a different tune for this “project”. Now, while a full-staged war in Afghanistan and Iraq cannot be compared with intervention of perhaps a bit smaller scale in Uganda, it will have its negative effects nevertheless. The aid workers that are functioning in Uganda will have their work cut out for them, the difficulties they already face might be doubled in the situation where violence is met with more violence. Furthermore, theories are already being tabled about the US wanting to match China’s growing influence in Africa, or tapping perhaps the large oil reserves thought to exist in Uganda. An intervention of any sort, will only further that idea.

It must also be noted that Ugandans have been reported as saying that the documentary is a misrepresentation of today’s state of things. That the LRA has not been functioning for the past 6 years, with violence toned down and businesses restoring. It must also be noted, that the last time the US led a manhunt of epic proportions, it took them not only a decade, but countless resources and manpower was lost, with that manhunt still being criticized today. The hunt for Osama Bin Laden, took billions of dollars, led the region into conflict and the countries into economic hardship, something all of us can do without onceover. It is therefore, definitely about time we learn how and when to seek alternative strategies.

So while Joseph Kony is still the villain of the story, and an awareness program is the need of the day, asking for intervention by the USA needs to be reconsidered, instead perhaps the strengthening of the International Criminal Courts efforts, or the UN mission can be considered as better and sustainable alternatives.

Do you think that the Kony 2012 campaign will impact Uganda?

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Ali Rafi

A student of Economics/Political Science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • jazzmine

    Very good piece.A valid point raised!Recommend

  • Qaisar

    beautiful piece of writing…. I had to give second thoughts that came in my mind after watching this video couple of days ago…. Recommend

  • Junaid

    How great would it be if Pakistanis actually put in half the effort they’re putting into this KONY 2012 campaign to support campaigns which aim to end violence against minority groups in OUR OWN country.Recommend

  • Natalie

    This is the actual point the man was making in the video, no one cares because its not in their own country and so therefore doesn’t affect them. This piece of writing makes me sick! Whether Kony has stopped abducting, raping, and killing children he still did it for 26 years and he needs capturing. Pakistanis?? Junaid?? Wrong country mate! The Americans are not there to fight a war, they are there to aid an army and train them. The fact that you watched the film and some how came out with a backwards view on it just shows how self-centered you are, plus you’ve basically stated that you could’t give a crap that Kony does these horrible things to kids, actually you have pretty much said that your okay with it!Recommend

  • alicia

    Joseph Kony has not been seen alive since 2008. He does not even operate in Uganda anymore. So its a really big question mark on the validity of this video.Recommend

  • Shahbano Mushtaq

    Instead of criticizing this campaign, whom I sincerely support, why don’t we Pakistani’s bring about something similar and highlight the same point about the war atrocities such asdrone attacks or many other local issues to the world and to our fellow countrymen and to the world and seek to garner support, unity and create a Paradigm shift in west! Recommend

  • goodman

    Finally, A wise article. We Pakistanis should know better of these US schemes. Worst part was, the other day I saw a facebook event ‘Cover the night-Lahore- STOP KONY’. Pakistan’s got 99 problems And kony should’nt be one.Recommend

  • goodman

    Yet I like the idea. If people of our country can pull something similiar for people in Balochistan/FATA/religous minorities, it would be great.Recommend

  • Junaid

    What Joseph Kony is doing is indeed horrific. However, this KONY 2012 campaign is now being supported by millions of people worldwide including Pakistanis. So who’s left to speak up for these minorities in Pakistan who are being harmed or killed on a daily basis?Recommend

  • Corleone

    Let’s act like humans and stop KONY. Help us stop him, use the following link: http://on.fb.me/yFkSqy Recommend

  • Tike 101

    @Natalie: I would argue that you are missing the point here. Get off the bandwagon and start thinking for yourself. Do your own research instead of criticizing those who have done theirs. You cannot gain a whole opinion (at least not a validated one) by one video. Do your research and then make comments. Recommend

  • Mir

    I think kony should be trialed in international court of justice to set the precedent for dictators, war criminals and war lords.Recommend

  • Fiona

    There’s been an attempt to get Kony before. It ended up with only 5 dead LRA soldiers (presumably children) but all the Special Ops soldiers were killed, the commander beheaded, and all their brand-new hi-tech weapons taken. Plus, given Kony is in the jungles of Congo, or maybe sudan, or maybe somewhere else,, how, exactly are ‘they’ going to get him? .
    That video is a disgrace. It is as propagandistic as a Nazi rally. I was more scared by the set expressions, mob behaviour and the total lack of thought of these idiot youngsters.

    What if the wrong leader happens along now? Look at this, the liberal education system has totally failed. They just facebook like automatons.Recommend

  • KONY2012

    I think most people havent seen this video and jumped on the anti-campaign brigade too soon.

    During the final part the campaigners clearly say that Kony has moved out of Uganda but
    the LRA continues to haunt children in the neighbouring region.

    In fact, the Ugandan teenagers shown at the end have suffered under Kony and were now a part of Kony2012 as an altruistic gesture.

    However I completely agree that involving foreign troops on ground is debatable, but for now they are demanding to raise awareness about Kony’s crimes to the world. Obviously the international community will have some role to play in the future.

    And please turn off that moral brigade symptom on why Pakistanis should care about it. If one can’t help a good cause then it’s better to stay quite than to demoralise others.Recommend

  • R.I.D

    @Natalie You really need to open your mind and see the bigger picture. I am not against stopping Kony but am sceptical about Americas interests in Uganda using a humanitarian cause to cover up the possible real reasons. The fact that Invisible Children is partly sponsored by JP Morgan and other profiteers just shows the economic interests the USA have in Uganda. The LRA have been carrying out these acts for over 20 years and if you look at the ‘LRA tracker’ Invisible Children have provided you will see crime rates have reduced in the last couple of years. Why now have USA decided to engage in direct armed intervention in USA, bearing in mind they have recently discovered large oil reserves in Uganda. You along with the rest of the majority believe everything and anything you see without giving it a second thought. Recommend

  • http://www.petereichstaedt.com Peter Eichstaedt

    The video creates a number of false impressions. One is that Kony and the LRA are still fighting in northern Uganda. They are not have have not been there since 2006. Second, it fails to note that Kony is now on the run in a remote region of central Africa, and is being chased by the Ugandan army, which has not been able to capture him for 26 years. There are reasons for this which Uganda does not want to admit. Third, and perhaps the worst falsehood is that by donating to the group, people can help capture Kony. Invisible Children has nothing to do with the hunt for Kony. Instead, the money being raised pays for salaries and overhead, and making more superficial, sophomoric videos. How does this help anyone in Uganda or anywhere else? For a serious look at the issue, read the book, First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army. Recommend

  • carina

    I don’t care if he doesn’t kill one child more from now or if his army now consist of less people, I want him to pay for what he has done. I want him gone! And if the man who made this video have been spending 10 years of his life on this, don’t you think he knows about all the negative things you are saying about this? All the people who are talking about the situation in Uganda today.. have you been there and seen it? He has, and he has people from Uganda with him in this.. just sayin.Recommend

  • shirleyz

    @Natalie: You do not know the people of Uganda and what they want. My co-worker at my parish has 1st hand experience with the people of Northern Uganga since he has made numerous trips to the area and started the BOSCO (http://boscouganda.com/) project which brought the internet as a means of communication between the villages. There is, now, a negotiated peace between the government and the LRA rebels brought about by the Archbishop of Gulu, John Baptist Odama. The people of Uganda do not want violent interventions. As Archbishop Odama has said “Violence does not beget peace.” People in Uganda do not think like us, they are not out for revenge or retaliation like the Western World is. All they want is peace and to have their lives back. “We maintained strong links with the people and with the governments and the Lord’s Resistance Army L(RA) rebels. We became a link between the two. We did it for three years. We built up trust between the LRA and the government – through talking and our actions. We stuck to the principle of talking and non-violence.” Archbishop Odama of GuluRecommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Pakistanis only protest when Muslims are being massacred. That rule has an exception when it deals with Countries which give them money and weapons like China. The Chinese atrocities against Uighur Muslims then becomes condone-able.Recommend

  • http://707monty.blogspot.com Pakistan politics

    I am all for positive change, but it always strikes me as a bit
    disingenuous when people are so gung ho to secure that change halfway
    across the world. Google “children killed in gang violence in US” or “children living in poverty in US”. There’s a cadre of children here in the US who also have no voice and no slick video with a cute blond-haired kid in a polo sweater urging us to do something. Like adopting kids from China, when there are children here who have languished in foster care for years.Recommend

  • http://www.petereichstaedt.com Peter Eichstaedt

    The weaknesses with the Kony 2012 video are that Russell took the easy way out. He fails to touch on the background of where Kony came from and why, and especially why he continues to exist, albeit very far from Uganda at the moment. For a factual account of Kony and the LRA, see the book, First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lrod’s Resistance Army. Recommend

  • u_too

    If all the governments of the world support this than it might be a success. But we would all like to see Kony brought to justice. Recommend

  • http://supportkony2012.wordpress.co­­m Faileph Kony

    I guess there is a college kid who really wanted to make a difference rather than just reposting videos and pictures about kony. He wen’t ahead and contacted some organizations and asked them to donate to the cause for every lead he generated. He just made a simple blog with very little information but it was painless to make a money free donation. I doubt it generates much, but every penny counts. http://supportkony2012.wordpress.co­­mRecommend

  • Zeta

    KONY 2012 is propaganda video. Its Scam Fraud people. Dont fall for itRecommend

  • http://- Abid P. Khan

    Kony Campaign Sounds more like a Con Job

    Please visit the above link. And even an article in The Guardian is discussing
    it. Many think it is a new invitation to the US to step in a la Iraq and Afghanistan to

    “…Invisible Children Inc., self-appointed saviours of central Africa’s children.
    Even their name is problematic. The ‘Inc.’ bit at the end implies a company,
    which they’re not. But for a non-profit they do have a very shiny
    headquarters and an impressive fleet of branded vehicles, judging by what
    we saw in the video, and an unimpressive record when it comes to making
    your donations count – only 32% of the money they receive goes to direct
    services in Uganda, with the rest being spent on film production, staff salaries,
    and that shiny headquarters….”

  • Talha

    Good article, very valid points raised.Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    The United States operates a global military empire with thousands of soldiers stationed in places like Japan and Germany..

    ..doing what? Nothing really. Just burning cash since WWII, sitting tight in case something comes up.

    You don’t get to call yourself a world superpower without some added responsibility. It is unreasonable to expect the US army to fly off whenever and wherever there is trouble, but it can find the funds to focus on things that are in its national interest.

    That’s where the Americans come in. What millions of Americans scream and demand, even while sitting in their pajamas on Facebook, becomes “national interest”. And the same is true for every other country.

    This is the phenomenon that keeps bloggers like me doing what we do. I keep raising awareness about local and international issues. I make sure that the public doesn’t forget them, and keep demanding change.Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/pavanmehta Pavan

    Looks like you missed the point of the author. Why should USA always intervene ? Kony ain’t functional in Uganda anymore. Recommend