The elephant in the room
We have just passed the 1 year anniversary of the launch of the Kony 2012 campaign from Invisible Children (IC).
Was it a success or was it an outrage? While, that probably depends on a lot of factors including your politics, expectations, and of course what continent you live on, not to mention how you define success. It definitely did attract a lot of attention to the armed conflict in northern Uganda which ENDED around 2008, the LRA and it’s leader Joseph Kony ( pronounced ‘coin’ ) and encouraged youth and young adults around the world to join a campaign for the arrest of Kony, due to the ICC warrant out for his arrest. I don’t want to go too far with an academic critique of the problematic representations of the Kony 2012 video that launched March 2012, though I want to mention that IC is not alone in promoting problematic, ethnocentric, and unbalanced narratives of pan-African violence, that largely ignore local context and local agency, resistance, resolutions and solutions. Instead I would like to compliment IC for improving some of these problems in their later films, though I would still like to see more footage from Gulu and more recent footage. I think they do a much better job in their video Move which launched in October 2012 to explain their work, the challenges on the ground today, and to celebrate their successes in Uganda. Also I am curious to see where their Forth Estate summits lead, and how they work to create a platform for a plurality of diverse voices from around the world. Unfortunately while 100 million people saw the Kony 2012 film, less than 60 000 have seen the latest, and from the limited media coverage of their summit in November 2012 that there were not millions of people in Washington. My respect to the students who did travel from all over the country to be there for the event, and we wait together for lasting solutions to problems of violence and instability in far too many communities in Central and East Africa.
So as a fellow trans-national community working towards supporting and celebrating change and solutions to poverty, violence and inequality in Uganda I hope that IC continues to raise awareness and engage students and young leaders. I don’t necessarily support a US military enforcement of ICC warrants when the US has not signed the convention, and hope that in the future IC campaigns will work to ensure that all war criminals are stopped, regardless of their nationality, bio-political power, wealth, etc The violence and war that occurred during the civil war in the north of Uganda was tragic, and that it was ignored for so long is humiliating and shameful for so many of us, but how do wars get stopped- whether far away or close to home?
Fortunately the war is over in Gulu and other communities in Northern Uganda, and while there are still many people who struggle to recover or are haunted by the too recent trauma, solutions are being pursued. Beads of Awareness is working hard to share in the successes and solutions being built by our partners in Gulu. We follow their lead and celebrate their successes. I don’t think we’ll ever make a video that will get 100 million views, nor inject millions of dollars to Gulu, but I’m ok with that. One thing to learn from Kony 2012- standing in the spotlight can hurt your eyes.