Kony and Invisible Children; Dont Always Believe What You Watch
Joseph Kony. A man whom was previously unheard of by the masses but whom now has his name on the lips of over 50 million people worldwide due to a viral campaign by a charitable organisation. On the surface this looks like an incredible success in the battle to capture and imprison one of the world’s most despicable warlords and to bring a measure of stability and justice to a people whom he has terrorised for so long. Yet, scratch the surface a little and all is not what it seems and I feel that those poor people whom have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into publicising the campaign via their personal Social Network sites need to be aware of what they are supporting.
Joseph Kony is a man whom many have never heard of before this week yet is someone who has been committing atrocities against his fellow man, woman and child for 2 decades. In essence this Christian Fundamentalist and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) that he heads has aimed to implement an extreme religious ideology in Central Africa whereby they adhere to the same 10 Commandments that feature in the Bible. Primarily active since 1987 in Uganda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo the group has been effortless in their campaign to impose its strict ideals on the people of those nations and as strived to achieve their extreme aims through murder, mutilation and rape. A key component of their force has been the abduction and subsequent training of local children to bolster their forces. To highlight the absurdity of the group’s intentions, leader Kony claims to be a spokesperson or even prophet acting on behalf of God. With Kony at the helm the group have committed many atrocities including but not limited to various massacres that number hundreds of people at any time. A recent attack that drew media reporting from abroad was the December 2009 Makombo Massacre in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the Red Cross verified the butchering of at least 321 people and the abduction of dozens of children for military and sex purposes. Deceased deputy leader Vincent Otti once gave an interview where he chillingly stated “Lord’s Resistance Army is just the name of the movement, because we are fighting in the name of God. God is the one helping us in the bush. That’s why we created this name, Lord’s Resistance Army. And people always ask us, are we fighting for the Ten Commandments of God. That is true – because the Ten Commandments of God is the constitution that God has given to the people of the world. All people”. Not much difference from the Islamic extremists looking to impose Sharia law it seems. We’ve all seen “Blood Diamond” with Leonardo Di Caprio therefore we have some kind of basic cinematic idea about what has happened at various points in the heartland’s of Africa in recent times.
As stated earlier, the group have been active since 1987 and in that time have committed many disgusting and outrageous acts against their own people as well as those of different tribes in Africa’s complex Central region. Yet it was only this week it appears that the name of Joseph Kony has become known to the vast populations of the so-called West. Beginning this week with the publication of an emotive and well-produced docu-appeal by the charity organisation Invisible Children, the reaction has been incredible with such superstars as Rihanna and Justin Beiber using their social network sites to repost the video. The video has received over 50m hits and has become known newsworthy for the way it has taken social network by storm; indeed at various points this week the hashtags that have trended on Twitter have included #stopkony, #Kony2012, #stopKony2012, #InvisibleChildren, #MakeKonyFamous, #LRA, and #Uganda. Objection complete…the world now speaks of Kony is the same kind of breath once reserved for Bin Laden, Saddam and Gaddafi. Men the West considered public enemy and men whom had to speak.
But hold on. Is this the full story? A fantastic charity organisation taking on one of the world’s biggest demon’s and winning. Not quite. The charitable organisation whom produced the video are controversial to say the least and with good reason. Invisible Children are an hardcore activist group who proudly display that they are not for profit whilst undertaking various campaigns primarily through the media of film. To date they have released the group has released 11 films since their foundation in 2004 each accompanied with a different colour bracelet to highlight the cause. Nothing unusual here and all very commendable so far. Slowly however there appear to be cracks in the organisation’s public image and this is something very important to take on board for the amount of incessant and ignorant preaching from many millions of normal and grieved citizens on social networks need to be fully informed of what they are agreeing to support. Most people enter into campaigns such as this with an aura of ignorance about them…they see something bad happening in a video and within seconds they are fully signed up activists. That’s good…if what they have signed up to fully complies with their beliefs as opposed to manipulating many facts and stories to suit their own agenda. And manipulation and over exaggeration of facts is certainly something that Invisible Children is guilty of.
Merely re-tweeting a video or linking to their campaigns on Facebook is directly supporting the organisation. Purchasing a so-called Action Kit even more so. Wouldn’t you like to know what you are supporting as opposed to entering blindly into a campaign? Invisible Children is a group that has regularly drew criticism from those who were aware of it before this week’s sudden “hit”. One key criticism the group draws is that despite being termed “not-for-profit” one would reasonably consider that the vast majority of any donations to the organisation that have been given in good faith would be immediately redirected to the heart of the campaign, in this case Uganda. Yet the company’s own records show that last year only around 31% of donations went to their Charity programme, something that earned it the condemnation of an independent Charity organisation that only rated Invisible Children with an accountability level of 2/4 stars. The “Charity” undoubtedly do provide a portion of donations to the grassroots level in Uganda but when they proclaim to be fighting the evil of Kony and working on this subject to get funding from people is it right that a whopping 69% of funds go on non charity matters such as film-making, wages and even transportation? Surely people donate to help the children in Uganda as opposed to funding the wages and travel costs of the activists themselves. It’s a given that some funds have to be diverted to help prolong a campaign but the majority? Recent figures that have come to prominence from the company’s OWN accounts include the fact that the organisation have paid $1.72m in “compensation, $16k on “entertainment”, $1.1m on “transport” and the infamous video itself which set the company back around $1m. Big money. None of which has directly gone to those whom the Charity implores us to help. How about the fact that the company has influenced people to spend $32 on an “Action Kit” that judging by Facebook and Twitter the masses are climbing over each other to get not realising that only around 10% of their hard earned donation will be utilised in Uganda.
And whilst we’re back on the subject…why Uganda anyway? The LRA have been relatively inactive there for the best part of a decade and the nation is slowly moving on. This campaign is coming towards the end of the reign of terror as opposed to during the heart of it. Do these people on social network sites, many whom are charitable by nature and thus of the peace-loving variety, realise that Invisible Children actually calls for DIRECT MILITARY INTERVENTION?? That’s correct, the “charity” doesn’t advocate merely concentrating on providing water and medical supplies but is using your money (some of it anyway, the rest is on flights and entertainment whatever that means) to call for a US-Led war in the country. They indeed wish to flood Uganda with arms so the people can wage their own war. I hazard a guess that there are a large number of anti-war people whom have been duped by a well-produced video into directly supporting yet another war. I’m sure they would be sickened and insulted if they were aware of this. Taking it a step further, the organisation and their funds go towards the Ugandan Government’s Army as well as some other related armed forces in the locality whom the charity seemingly portrays as the liberators against tyranny. Yet many human rights experts explicitly point out that just as the LRA are culpable for their actions in harming the people of Uganda, the official army themselves are not without their critics for murder, rape, pillage and corruption.
With this in mind, if one still feels they wish to support the campaign then by all means go ahead and carry on re-tweeting. Knowledge is power however and armed with the full facts, make your choice accordingly. Joseph Kony has been a bad man for a long time and hopefully now his name is known he will be found and tried by an International Criminal Court but always be careful which side of the fence you align yourself for you may discover things are not always what they may seem.