It’s kind of like when the Star Wars franchise put out a sequel that actually went back in time to explain how everything got started.
Conspicuously absent from this new video subtitled “Beyond Famous” is the star of the first Stop Kony video, the organization’s co-founder Jason Russell, who was hospitalized after engaging in bizarre behavior.
This video is less emotive, more factual but still pretty self-referential — and perhaps less effective. The organization’s call for worldwide demonstrations on April 20 could be another barometer of the success of this social media campaign, though there is little question this initiative has succeeded at raising awareness of the atrocities of African warlord Joseph Kony.
Actually capturing Kony, or otherwise stopping his terror, will of course be the primary determinant of whether the public judges this campaign as mere “slacktivisim” or “clicktivisim” — or as an example of how social media can launch major movements.
For a couple of weeks, Kony 2012 stole the spotlight in international development. It dominated conversation, with some applauding its success as an awareness-raising campaign (e.g., Nicholas Kristof); some criticizing it for its oversimplified, condescending, self-gratifying portrayal of the issues (e.g., Teju Cole); and many grumbling along the lines of, “Who are these punks who managed to get so much attention and funding?”
Almost all of the commentary, whether positive or negative, discusses one of three issues:
– Content of the video, its accuracy and the various subtexts of the video.
– Intent of the non-profit that produced the movie.
– Budgeting of donor money.
These are all important questions, but they miss the real issue that Kony 2012 raises — namely, how we as a society prioritize important issues in the age of Internet social media.
Prioritization is the essential question in a world of finite resources, and especially in times of economic distress. Yet, it’s also a question that the hyper-connected anarchy of the online world is horribly unsuited to answering. Continue reading →
ENTEBBE, Uganda — Officials say the African Union will send 5,000 soldiers to hunt for rebel leader Joseph Kony in a mission officials describe as necessary to remove the Lord’s Resistance Army from Central Africa.
U.N. and African Union officials told a news conference Friday that the mission is to be launched in South Sudan on Saturday and will last until Kony is caught.
The hunt for Kony has primarily been carried out by Ugandan troops, who received a boost last year when President Barack Obama deployed 100 U.S. forces to help regional governments in the mission.
Now that the frenzy caused by the Stop Kony viral video has declined somewhat — with its meteoric success as a social media campaign targeting an African warlord, followed by the bizarre public indecency of the campaign’s leader — let’s consider where we are at with this and some other news items out of Uganda:
That last one, about the Kony 2012 organization Invisible Children being linked to virulently anti-gay Christian organizations, sounds a bit stretched to me. Frankly, I can no longer keep up with this story and all of the allegations. But at least it increased the world’s attention to many issues in Uganda … even if Kony is now in Congo.
The gist here is that Joseph Kony’s LRA militia, though now relatively small and actually in DR Congo (not Uganda), is still conducting raids and terrorizing people. The LRA attacks took place in February, before the video campaign was launched by the group Invisible Children.
The Stop Kony campaign by the California-based organization Invisible Children (now the world’s most successful viral video) has produced many responses, positive and negative. Here’s a heartfelt one from Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire that is getting a lot of attention:
Over the last few days, a video posted on YouTube that aims to raise the profile — and potential for arrest — of the infamous African warlord Joseph Kony has been hugely popular and, in the eyes of many, so simplistic and inaccurate it is likely to do much more harm than good.
The non-profit organization has been accused of spending the vast majority of its donations on film production, staff salaries and transport.
You can judge for yourself. Here’s the video, a powerful and well-done short (half hour) film calling for a groundswell, grassroots movement to push for the arrest of Kony and stop the decades of terror fomented by his Lord’s Resistance Army in east and central Africa:
It’s very compelling, but it has also prompted a major backlash from many experts on Africa, conflict resolution, development and foreign policy. Continue reading →