Most Africans were angered when the Kony 2012 video produced by Invisible Children went viral, attracted a lot of views but left out the voice of the victims of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA), trivialized issues surrounding the conflict, and wrongly portrayed Uganda to be at war.
On Thursday, the sequel to the infamous video was released as a follow-up to Invisible Children’s campaign to have the LRA leader Joseph Kony arrested by the end of the year. That is not going to happen; it is not as simple as Invisible Children is making the world to believe as there are complex issues surrounding the LRA conflict that has enabled its leader to escape capture for close to three decades.
The follow-up video does little to address solutions to the LRA conflict.
Granted, the new video has included more voices from Uganda, cuts down on studio manipulations and presents a more accurate version of Africa’s battle to capture Joseph Kony, it still has nothing to offer other than giving the West something to talk about. Unfortunately, talk alone can never end the LRA conflict.
The new video still paints a wrong picture of what is happening in the LRA conflict. It focuses on Uganda, a country that got the largest share of Kony’s atrocities in the past but has since 2006 moved on from that era.
The video does little to show the world how the latest victims of the LRA in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan can be rescued.
Besides, the people in northern Uganda — on whom the film is centered — feel deeply offended by the video, which they say has given Kony celebrity status with T-shirts carrying his face trending all over the world. His victims, on the other hand, are portrayed as hopeless, when they have made huge progress and are moving on from the LRA days.
What is more insulting for Africans are the shallow discussions that were born after Kony 2012 about a very serious and deadly LRA conflict.
It is wise to read comments from experts on the LRA conflict like Alex de Waal and Mahmood Mamdani, people who have been much more eloquent and precise in pointing out the real weaknesses in the Kony 2012 campaign.
If even a couple of million people watched the video and then read the highly informed responses of de Waal, Mamdani and the likes, a lot has been done in terms of augmenting awareness on this issue. Invisible Children has not been able to convincingly answer the main points of criticism, especially the warnings that another military intervention along the lines advocated by IC against the LRA is prone to lead to only more civilian casualties. But unfortunately this was not the main thrust of criticism brought forward by the big media outlets.
The LRA had ravaged northern Uganda for 20 years between 1986 and 2006 and the world knew about it but did not care. In fact, the West funded Museveni’s government that violently herded 90% of the population into camps which failed to protect them against LRA attacks. People died of Cholera and Ebola or were massacred by the LRA. Instead of helping, government soldiers raped civilians and shot those as “rebel collaborators” who dared to venture out of the camps to search for food. If you talk about a military solution in northern Uganda, these are the memories that you will stir in all Ugandans who suffered during 20 years of conflict in which one military offensive after the other failed to bring peace.
Will the Invisible Children campaign lead to the capture of Kony? The answer is a loud NO!