While you have no doubt heard about the activist viral video, Kony 2012 (below), some Ugandans are raising questions about the organization which made the movie, Invisible Children. They ask why so much of the charity’s money (70%) seems to be directed at efforts which do not directly help the children most affected by the rape and kidnapping. The organization responds to the concerns by saying it needs the funds to raise awareness, its core mission (see NBC interview with the documentarian above).
In Uganda, journalist Rosebell Kagumire also points out that making one man the villain – in a complicated, bloody war which has burdened Uganda for years – is not really solving the problem.
“At end of the day, it simplifies the war that is so complex and gives this picture that you know only a certain person — if a college student from America gives the money they will stop Kony. So I’m wondering where’s the link between them giving money and stopping Joseph Kony, who has been fighting for 25, for 26 years?”
Some also suggest the film exaggerates the current state of a war, which has quietened down. The LRA of today is a much diminished force than the one depicted in the movie. Kony is also believed to be not as active – just 200 fighters at some estimates. There is also a fair amount of criticism online about Invisible Children, the charity which produced the YouTube video:
They rarely refer to the Ugandan atrocities or those of Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army, such as attacks against civilians or looting of civilian homes and businesses, or the complicated regional politics fueling the conflict.
There is no doubt that Kony is a vicious man with little regard for humanity but don’t assume the money you send the organization will actually reach the children you see in the film, nor should you assume that Kony’s arrest will make a real difference in the region’s bitter civil wars.
Invisible Children has done some big things. It managed to bring Uganda’s war to the international stage through social media and briefly diverted America’s attention on to something other than Kim Kardashian. That is to be applauded but whether it leads to an end to the region’s wars, will have to be seen.