Kony 2012 – The year “everyone” became an activist

Many conflicts in Africa are very complex and have been going on for many years, which is a big part of why they become “forgotten conflicts”. Just as the the Kony 2012 video referees to the conflict in Central Africa being about “the invisible children”. It is now over a year since the Kony 2012 campaign video was published, has it achieved what it set out to?

The Kony 2012 campaign was launched by a non-profit organisation called “Invisible children” and their aim with their video was to inform the public about Joseph Kony. Kony is the leader of a militant group called LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army). “Invisible children” wanted to make Kony famous so the public would be aware of the crimes against humanity Kony has committed. The LRA have abducted and forced children to be sex-slaves and soldiers. Since 1986 it has been estimated that 66 000 children have become soldiers. Because of his actions, Kony is number one on the “International Criminal Court’s” wanted list, with a count of 33 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court is not allowed to charge for crimes that happened before it was founded, therefore no crimes before 2002 will be prosecuted. I am sure that the number of charges against Kony would be completely different if crimes before 2002 were also counted in.

Kony 2012

Source: Flickr
Photo courtesy of: ra_coons

It all started with conflicts between several Ancholi tribes in Uganda during Idi Amin Dada‘s regime. However Dada lost the power to another Ancholi group leader called Yoweri Museveni. Not to be mistaken for the Italian dictator Mussolini. As a protest against Museveni and his leadership Kony founded the LRA.

The LRA is based on African myths, Christian fundamentalism, Islam and Acholi tradition. Kony claims that he has contact with god and acts as a spokesperson. He wanted to overthrow the government and create a “ten commandment” state. If you want to learn more about Joseph Kony, I suggest you have a look at this interview. Where Kony explains his actions as a “democratic freedom fighter”.

Although “Kony 2012” was a great initiative to inform the public of a current conflict, it has received much criticism. The criticism was directed at the simplified depiction of the conflict in Uganda. However, I think that for this conflict to appeal to the public in the way it did, it needs to be simplified, because it is a complex conflict. The thing I find most misrepresented by the “Kony 2012” video is that the conflict is explained to be going on in Northern-Uganda, but the reality is that the LRA activity in Uganda has been low for years. The LRA are still active, though they have moved on to the democratic republic of Congo and the Central African Republic in later years, which we can see from this LRA tracker map.

Map of Africa, countries with LRA activity are The Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and a small part of South Sudan

But I want to point out what “Invisible Children” actually have achieved. With putting the conflict in Central Africa on the world agenda, they have managed to create a huge worldwide initiative fighting for a good cause. After Kony 2012 the LRA killings of civilians have decreased with 67 %, which cannot only be explained by video, but also by LRA’s movement to other countries. They have built three FM towers so they can warn the population before attacks happen. They are now covering 26801 miles with their radio frequency, so that they can reach out to a large amount of people in a crucial time. Two of the commanders in LRA have been removed from the battlefield. 690000 defection fliers have been distributed in the democratic republic of Congo and Central African Republic, these fliers are designed to appeal to the members of the LRA and make them think about why they are in the LRA and to let them know that they will be welcomed back into society if they choose to surrender. This is only a few things of what they have achieved, more can be found here.

I do not think any other video on serious matter has more views on Youtube than Kony 2012. So in the end “Invisible children” has achieved what they set out to do, more people now know about the conflict in Central Africa. By watching the video many people have researched the conflict even more to form their own opinion. However, the Kony 2012 campaign has not yet reached their ultimate goal, which is to arrest Kony and put him on trial in the International Criminal Court. All the media attention directed to Kony has made him change his tactics and go into hiding, but that has also resulted in less activity from LRA. I am pretty sure Kony will not get away with his actions, just like Osama bin Laden could not hide forever either.

Discussion is more than welcome; share your opinions on Kony and the conflict.

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