Update: Please see this post for ideas on where to donate to help people in Northern Uganda.
Update 2: Please see my more recent post for clarification and expansion on issues raised here.
The video below, Kony 2012, has been doing the rounds on Facebook, G+ and Twitter today in an attempt to bring to the world’s attention the plight of child soldiers in the Lord’s Resistance Army(LRA) in Uganda. Now the LRA is a despicable organisation that has been involved in some of the most sickening acts imaginable including slavery, abduction, rape and using children as soldiers and their leader Joseph Kony, from whom the film takes its name, is a piece of shit. There is no debate about this. The man is scum through and through.
This video, and the campaign that created it, is extremely disturbing. From watching the video ones immediate reaction is to share it and to try and ensure that something gets done, possibly by donating to the campaign or buying something from their line of t-shirts, badges and the like to further spread awareness of what is going on. A natural reaction when faced with such a horrible situation.
However when we look at the facts surrounding the film a rather unpleasant stink begins to fill the air. Something that smells a lot like the white man’s burden and possibly cynical opportunism.
The campaign calls for military intervention in Uganda to capture Kony and bring him to justice, something he most certainly deserves. However the film and campaign are rather liberal with the truth. Kony and the LRA have been pretty much smashed and have been inactive in Uganda since 2006 and there is now a peace process in place. A process that stammers and stalls, but that is what they always do.
Of the money that gets made by Invisible Children only 31% goes on their charity work and the rest on film making, though the charity has never been audited so we assume. But this 31% of your money, that you either directly give to them or help them raise through sharing their video, goes on things like funding Uganda’s military and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Both forces have been associated with despicable acts such as using rape as a weapon of war.
Do you really want to fund this? If so then share the video to your hearts content and be glad when the violence continues and more children die. Seriously, how do you expect to take military action, which Invisible Children support, against a person who uses children as soldiers without killing children? What do you think will happen when military action is taken? Do you not think that there will be more reprisals and bloodshed?
All the while that you are sharing this video, changing your Facebook status or photograph and tweeting about this far and wide you are promoting a wrong headed initiative that supports a most brutal regime, one that tortures prisoners and has sought to condemn homosexuals to death for simply loving people of the same sex, which can only make matters worse in the region. We need to support people when they seek to better their living conditions, when they seek to put an end to murderous scum like Joseph Kony and Yoweri Museveni. What we must not do is support, probably well meaning, rich Westerners flying around the world trying to solve the problems of poor old Africa.
Some more on the story and on Invisible Children can be found at the following blogs.
The last one there, ilto, is a post from 2006 showing that this criticism of Invisible Children has been around as long as they have.
Please, if you want to do something to help the people who suffer in Uganda, and anywhere else in the world for that matter, educate yourself on the situation there in ways that go beyond Youtube videos and listening to a bunch of rich white people. Try reading the local news, reading blogs from the area if any are available. Hell even start with the Wikipedia entry or reading the New Internationalist world guide. Don’t allow emotive and snazzily made videos play on your basic humanity. Read, read and then read some more before you go making a mistake and supporting an initiative that could just make things so much worse.