Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Re: Kony 2012 - NakedSha

Our people say:
Yoruba: Ẹ̀ẹ̀kan lejò ńyánni.
Eng: One gets bitten by a snake only once.  - Yoruba proverb.

The media has evolved into portable forms and sizes which allow for instant world-wide participation of any and every one who has access to these platforms. One good example is Twitter. Twitter trends are the best indication of what the world is ‘buzzing’ about. In most recent times, this is the Ugandan rebel leader, Joseph Kony. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader has recruited 30,000 children in the space of about 20 years who help propagate terror in an already unstable Uganda. A popular human-right NGO called Invisible Children (IC) created a 30-minute video which addresses Kony’s criminal activities and, in typical out-of-Africa fashion, hypes up the rest of the world about donating for the purpose of capturing Kony and bringing him to justice. Their mantra is something along the lines of Kony 2012: Let’s make Kony Famous.

I am disgusted by the Kony 2012 campaign and this video.

Last week Thursday at a meeting of primarily Africans and African-Americans, the issue of Kony 2012 was brought up. When I contributed an opinion against that of everyone else (except those who had no idea what was being talked about), I was accused of being a supporter of child soldiering and unsympathetic to the plight of the invisible children of Uganda. I was not too shocked at this accusation, untrue as it is, because I am used to accusations. Does anyone recognize the accusation of being Americanized or a rebel to [culture] if one disagrees with killing or a prison sentence for homosexuals in Nigeria, etc.? My disgust towards Joseph Kony's legacy and the Kony 2012 campaign are not mutually exclusive. Child soldiering is a step beyond criminal and Joseph Kony cannot be remotely justified. But many people do not understand that we will not all support the salvation-saved dynamics that Africans have lived within for too long. I won’t. The IC MAY have good intentions but good for who? The colonials had “good” intentions, so did the missionaries, the invasive multinational extractive industries and all the other saviors of savage, fetish, illiterate, uncivilized and [bringers of the white man’s burden] Africans. Good for whom? For whom, biko?

And then, the campaign reduces the menace of child soldiering to one man, Kony.  

Such a simplistic strategy of click play -> watch -> be moved -> donate -> share will not solve the problem. It is too complicated and intricate and the imposition of outside salvation has largely not worked and cannot work. Also, it is ridiculous to think that the capturing of Kony will result in a change to child soldiering in Uganda simply because the rebel leader is captured. Kony operated (somewhat successfully) before his indictment (for which he is still at large) for over 20 years for a reason and if we know a little of our dear continent, it is not all black and white. At best, the world’s concern that has resulted from all this hype is short-lived. So, of course, since many of our governmental infrastructures are not sufficient to solve our crises, almighty U.S.A had to intervene. Why oh why would the U.S.A send 100 troops to ‘help train the Ugandan army?’ Oh, yeah, Uganda needs salvation from the West. Will the West ever leave the ‘other’ alone? Power dynamics. 

More, the video does not represent important and accurate facts such as Kony’s LRA presence in the DRC, CAR and other neighboring countries. The people of Northern Uganda are flabbergasted because they recognize their most pressing needs as war recovery not some hype about Kony. Just because some content will make a juicy, viral video does not mean ... I stop there because, anyway, Africa has always been the subject of single stories and viral, juicy media representations. To make the outsider cry and then donate or laugh and then pay-a-visit-to-the-safari-resort or dance and then tie-a-piece-of-tie-dye-cloth-and-jump-and-throw-feet-and-arms. So, Kony 2012 is not an exception to them.

Kony 2012 is more propaganda than treatment and if it is any at all, it is treatment of the symptom and not the disease. Until the systems of corruption and conflicts are disarmed, many more Konys will arise after, if at all, Kony is captured. And it will be of no surprise to me if Kony is not at all in hiding. Think Osama bin Laden and the like; the best place to hide is right under the enemy’s nose. Joseph Kony probably casually watches television at night with his kinship and gun-bearers like much of the world is doing. Or worse, he doesn’t give a SHIT!

Make Kony famous? How about make the faces behind child-soldiering famous? 

P.S: Your donation of, say, $10 will buy at least 50 oranges from the beggar in your home country with two children on her arms and one on her back. It is simplistic but it will do less harm than Kony 2012.

Find out more about the IC's budget here. It is no wonder they make powerful videos. 37 cents from your dollar donation will go to the IC’s over-simplified projects. The other 63 cents will go towards salaries, travel costs and film production for the next viral video for the next Kony, 2012 propaganda. Maybe Boko Haram, 2013.



  1. On Point!!!!I've been screaming the same...well,in less 'well-said-words'!

  2. Dang babe! Talk about hitting the nail on the head.
    I'm half Ugandan and the first couple of minutes after i saw the video i got all riled up but after thinking about it and remembering some conversations with my brother who still lives there with his family i couldn't help but go numb to the antics behind it all.

    The Lord will be our strength!


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