The Non-Governmental Organization known as Invisible Children has become a viral sensation, commanding the attention of more than 80 million people with the 30 minute short film entitled, ‘Kony 2012’, and have thus become the most viewed short film to be yet made.
Kony 2012 is a short film created by the Invisible Children Inc, intended to promote the charity’s ‘Stop Kony’ charity which aims to arrest the indicted Ugandan criminal on crimes of murder, child abduction, rape and crimes against humanity by December 2012. Invisible Children first began its work in Uganda in 2005. Based in Gulu, Invisible Children Uganda (ICU) began by working alongside local reformists and activists who identified the northern regions of Uganda as those in greatest need. Relying on such guidance and expertise, ICU worked to develop programs on the ground. The evolution of this movement into the stirring global campaign known as ‘Kony 2012’ is attributed to the emotional propaganda video retelling tales of the atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the personal experience of a Uganda dissident, Jacob. The atrocities of the LRA span multiple countries, ranging from the lower Sudan to the northern most regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The events have been a global phenomena, fueling the masses with the need to cease the clearly horrific scenario that is unfolding in Sub-Saharan Africa. The knee-jerk reaction of the American populace, though sincere, comes at the beck and call of the NGOs expertise of such promotional videos in which they have introduced the relationship that exists in Africa between the innocence of childhood and the cruelness of violence being forced upon them. With such juxtaposed imagery of purity and youth intertwined with abuse, death and sex slaves, the masses of the world have risen to the occasion. Blanketing the streets with posters and banners, the infamy of Kony rises and the masses stir the call to action and prepare for their launching night on April 20th. On that night, the street teams of the Kony 2012 campaign will paint the towns and cities with pictures, banners and fliers of the detested warlord Kony and illustrate with persistence the overwhelming need for action.
“He was born into a pretty complicated world and as a dad, I want him to grow up in a better world than I did. And because of the course of events of my life, I see a way to get there.” – Jason Russell, Kony 2012 creator and Invisible Children Co-Founder
With the call to action ringing across the world, Jason Russell has appealed to the masses through the social networking devices of modern media, mainstreaming a cause to which the people have now bonded with. At the focus of this global campaign is the Lord’s Resistance Army and its warlord Joseph Kony. The LRA came about in Uganda in 1985 when the government of Tito Okello was ousted by Yoweri Museveni. Targeting the Acholi population, Yoweri Museveni used military forces to suppress opposition and ensure stability but among all the opposition forces, the LRA was the only one not silence. Fleeing into neighboring countries like South Sudan and DRC, the LRA has been continuously on the run since 1985 despite various global operations to stop them. Despite combined efforts of the Ugandan military, the USA and the EU, the guerrilla forces of the LRA remain about. The LRA has received significant support from Sudan and because of its domestic expertise and guerrilla tactics, has been able to avoid large infantry movements of the Ugandan military. Moreover, from the perspective of Joseph Kony, the use of ‘kid-soldiers’ is strategically smart because of their ability to hide and be overlooked in the forests of Africa. The only operation to come close to capturing Kony was Operation Lightening Thunder in 2008 but the Ugandan military used noisy helicopters which allowed Kony to flee. Coupled together with the fact that the infantry arrived 72 hours late and the Congolese troops didn’t even show, demonstrates the inability for operations to run effectively in the region. So saying, without domestic agenda pushing for renewed actions, the LRA will be able to perpetuate its criminal actions without challenge. Thankfully, the populace has awaken to the realization of their powers of accountability over political seat-holders and have begun to assert their influence as constituents, demanding that the Washington hacks rise up and truly enforce the previously illustrious words of ‘freedom for all’.
“We worry the rebels, when they arrest us again, then they will kill us. My brother tried to escape and then they killed him using the panga. They cut his neck. I saw” – Jacob, Ugandan dissident
Despite claims of sensationalism and falsehoods presented in the video, the point must be argued that no matter the extent of the atrocities being committed by Joseph Kony, any manner of such crimes are dehumanizing and should be held accountable for. The LRA, though only around 200 strong, has forced around 800 children into the army and has forced an almost equal number of girls into becoming sex slaves. The numbers are lower than many believe, but once again, the point stands that if such actions were to be perpetrated in a developed state, the perpetrators would be held accountable for those actions within short notice. The information gap, the alienation of human cost because of the oceans and land masses that separate Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of modernized society, has dehumanized the masses in the past to such events abroad. Nevertheless, the hopes of this video and this organization are to change this trend and to mark a step in another direction, one aimed at bringing about a resurgence of global relations and connection between people around the world. Targeting the culture stars and political officials, Invisible Children has illustrated the power of numbers, the realization that no one, be they Senators or CEOs, are anything without the support of the masses. Because of the existence of such peoples’ movements, as well as those of the Arab Spring, Invisible Children has hopefully sparked a revolution of thought for global populations about the level of control and influence they can wield through numbers and congregations. With the ranks of the masses rising, Kony 2012 could very well be a possibility under the right circumstances, but even if not, the significance of this ‘peaceful uprising’ (if it can be called so) should not be forgotten.
–> Writer’s Note:
Though a rather optimistic fortune above, the reality of the situation may be harder to swallow for many, as the national interests of the American government (those of the corporations, more often than not) are not interlinked with the situation of Kony and his child-soldiering, though the Ugandan oil may be of interest to the imperialists among the group of corporate position holders. So saying, 2 posts will follow on the Kony 2012 developments. 1 of which will be part of the Anti-Flag series and concentrate on corporate interests in the Kony 2012, more specifically the oil in Uganda. The other will analyze the extent to which there is actually very little of substance that the US can do to interfere in the actions of the LRA.