Who is Joseph Kony?

Posted on March 8, 2012

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If you don’t yet know who Joseph Kony is, for the love of crumpets, buy a computer.

Yesterday a video named Kony 2012 grabbed the internet by the throat and spread like wildfire across multiple social media platforms, reaching millions of people. Created by Invisible Children, an American NGO, it reveals the brutal activities of one Joseph Kony, who, along with his Lord’s Resistance Army, has been abducting children from villages in Northern Uganda for twenty years. The boys are used as soldiers in his army and the girls are raped and sold as sex slaves.

The video comes as part of a campaign which aims to make Kony a household name, giving him the same level of fame as celebrities like George Clooney and Rhianna, to encourage political powers to halt the bloodshed.

The campaign cites the end of 2012 as its expiry date. The film was only let loose onto Youtube a few days ago (5th March) and with its manifesto of making Joseph Kony famous, more than 21 million viewings would say the aim has already been achieved. I can’t help but be impressed.

Of course, as with anything that garners this degree of attention, the video, campaign, and organisation have been slagged off to within an inch of their lives. Kony 2012 has come under fire for over-exaggerating the facts, simplifying the atrocities of child abduction in Uganda and generally flooding the world-wide-web with cheesey, pompous twaddle. Invisible Children has also been criticised for high administration overheads and for lack of financial transparency.

All valid concerns. But I have to wonder if the angry rabble so harshly denigrating this video has meandered off the point a little. I’m certainly not a fan of the campaign’s top-down approach, and the lack of attention given to key political figures in Uganda – and yes, it all has a rather gung-ho ‘Team America saves the day’ flavour to it, but I’ve learned more about Uganda’s situation these last few days than I would had this video not been conceived. Before I start spouting Alexander O’Neal Criticise lyrics, you might be better off watching and judging for yourself.

A few days ago I, along with millions of other people, had no idea who Joseph Kony was. Now I’ve found myself embroiled in in-depth conversations about what’s being done to prevent the creation of child soldiers in Africa. That can’t be bad.

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Posted in: Society