I think that you will all have seen the incredibly moving YouTube video by the organisation Invisible Children over the past couple of days. If not, you can find it here below and I do suggest you spend the next 27minutes watching it. The issue of child soldiers in Africa is absolutely horrifying and can easily leave you feeling entirely helpless. What the #KONY2012 project aims to do is raise awareness about the leader of the LDA (the Lord’s Resistance Army) which is a resistance movement in Uganda who, as part of their regime, abduct children from their homes and turn them into child soldiers, often forcing them to kill their own family and to continue to mutilate and murder. Horrifying is an understatement.
Not long after I shared the video on my Facebook page this morning, I was made aware of a few articles floating around criticising the #KONY2012 movement. The main criticisms are the amount of money that has been allocated directly the cause (only one third) and the lack of transparency around the organisations finances generally. There are also concerns about the financing of the Ugandan military, themselves not immune to criticism about how they operate.
This morning when I first watched this is had almost 1million views, at the point I am posting this it has over 21million views.
Some of the points criticising the movement have just been plain pathetic (sorry, but this one just irked me A LOT): Jezebel, Think Twice Before Donating To Kony12, others have been much more reasonable. If you would like to read some of these more reasonable and informed posts that talk about some of the very legitimate questions that any reasonable person should ask before committing to a charity then I suggest: We Got Trouble and Reflections on KONY12
Upon reading the actual arguments and concerns about #KONY2012 movement this is my response:
– Many organisations spend significant portions of their income on awareness campaigns. The sole purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness about Joseph Kony, in their words to “make him famous” so that governments face ongoing pressure to support Ugandan authorities in their pursuit of him.
– The organisers have stated that this is a social media campaign based on Facebook – it will therefore naturally look different to other campaigns as will the way that it’s run. The organisers are not bureaucrats – they are passionate individuals.
– To the people who critices the movement for making out that Joseph Kony is uniquely evil – seriously?! The guy is amoral, whether he is the most amoral person who has ever lived hardly seems something worth arguing about.
– To the people who say the campaign focuses too heavily on emotion – it’s a social media campaign. Of course it does.
Yes, there are problems with the campaign, as the “Reflections on KONY2012″ post says, this campaign feeds into a narrative of white supremacy where as if “we” become aware then “we” can solve a problem that a poor, black nation can’t. Yes, the video doesn’t exhaust the facts about the situation in Uganda at this current time and yes, I would prefer that at least one of the action points at the end of the video wasn’t about donating money.
If you would like to read how the Invisible Children organisation have responded to some of these issues I suggest you read this statement: Critiques
But Joseph Kony is an horrendous war criminal and our “white” nations have the means to support poorer nations in their efforts to bring this man to justice. The goal of this campaign is to “MAKE KONY FAMOUS” and that seems like a pretty good goal to me.
At this time I would however like to urge you to make a donation to another charity who is working in war-torn nations, day in and out, without the support of a viral YouTube campaign.
What do you think? Are you supporting this movement or do you feel skeptical?