This is life one week after the release of Invisible Children’s (IC) STOP KONY viral video. To be fair, IC has set the precedent for successful marketing and branding campaigns for human interest organizations, raised awareness for the atrocities Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) committed, and attempts to maintain organizational transparency around finances. Watch below:
When responses to the KONY 2012 campaign started emerging, I was pretty surprised at the number of accusations claiming it was not a scam, just that the group's intentions were off. This is what I intended to explore in my last article, "KONY 2012 Supporters Have Been Duped." In viewing the video above, the focus on finances shows the reluctance on IC's end to answer some real concerns about the KONY 2012 campaign. In the last week, new details on the situation in Uganda and criticisms of IC have surfaced. Some of the most critical responses come from individuals, organizations, and institutions that work close to IC offices in Uganda, like that of Adam Branch of the Makerere Institute of Social Research. The co-opting of survival stories of Ugandans, the possibility of a U.S. military invasion, and IC’s relationship with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni remain pressing matters that are still shrouded with mystery.
Here are some issues IC should still address:
The emotional manipulation and fact distortion used in the campaign video. To be fully transparent, we must come clean. IC should make decent strides to correct the misinformation it presented in its original video which have been debunked repeatedly. Also, the majority of us may not want to admit that we fell for it, but long-time journalist and photographer Glenna Gordon talks with the Washington Post about the emotionally manipulative strategies IC has used in their campaigns. She also happens to be the photographer who snapped the shot of the IC founders holding guns during the 2008 peace talks between the LRA and the Ugandan government in Sudan.
Oil strike in Uganda, and U.S. interest in resources in the area. The tagline for KONY 2012 is “An Idea Whose Time Has Come.” Let’s probe into the timing of these events a bit. While all of Africa has always been targeted by colonizers for its rich resources, the oil strike in Uganda made its way to mainstream outlets this past fall. Earlier in 2011, demands to keep deals transparent with France and China surfaced, as the two nations become key developers in the Ugandan oil industry. While the U.S. denied interest in Uganda’s oil deposits in October 2011, it sent its first batch of 100 troops to Uganda shortly after. I’ll give IC an out on this one, until definitive proof surfaces, we’ll never know if IC is in fact colluding with the U.S., or whether the organization is being used to push forward a militarized agenda by the U.S. to prospect resources and combat China's growing influence in the area.
Seeing the people of Uganda as agents of change. Change happens from within. This seems to be the most difficult concept for many Americans to understand. Rosebelle Kagumire sums it up best in her response to Invisible Children. Many activists, organizers, and individuals familiar with the issues in the area are calling for a more grounded approach that includes a better understanding of the complexity of political conditions in Uganda. For this campaign to have a long-term effect, IC should establish a relationship with existing entities that represent a genuine Ugandan people’s movement, and not co-opt the cause.
In the attempt to be transparent, you can also ask Invisible Children any question directly via Twitter using @invisible with the hashtag #AskICAnything. I have tweeted them about IC’s relationship to current Ugandan President Museveni and how the IC strategy ensures that the peace talks between Uganda and the LRA continue. No response yet.
If you're coming into the KNOY 2012 frenzy a bit late, don't fret! If you desire, you can catch up For what you’ve missed by checking out this reader’s digest of Kony 2012 related articles.
Capture Kony, y’all!
Photo Credit: k-ideas