The Invisible Children is an advocacy group, which has been in existence for the last nine years,with the aim to stop the atrocities of Uganda's LRA rebels. Theorganization just released a campaign film, "Kony 2012," to create global awareness that will eventually lead to the arrest ofLRA leader Joseph Kony and disarmament of his rebel group.
Just moments within its release, the web based film went viral over the Internet, instantly reaching millions of viewers from around the world and hitting themajor news outlets like never before. The film also immediately drew criticism from within some circles. However, almost all the criticism leveled against the film and Invisible Children tactics are missing the points.
First and for most, the Kony2012 campaign film is right by focusing and targeting Joseph Kony individually to be arrested, at least by the year 2012. Kony is not just an average ordinary rebel leader, but he is also an internationally wanted fugitive who has an outstanding arrest warrant against him for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Kony survivallies in his ability to maintain his followers around his cult personality. His followers believe he is somehow possessed by holy ghost. Kony single handedly acts as the catalyst that ensures the cohesion of the rebel movement and propels their atrocities. To hiscult followers, Kony is a messianic figure, albeit with demonic qualities. Therefore, a removal of Kony from the battlefield, dead oralive, can certainly guarantee an end to LRA rebellion and their atrocious history.
Secondly, even if the LRA rebels are currently not operational in Northern Uganda, it should not mean that the advocacy groups in the position of Invisible Children should not pursue this issue with the same fervor in a similar case if the rebels were to be operational in Uganda. More importantly, highlighting the atrocities the LRA committed in Northern Uganda like the Kony 2012 campaign film captured, should not be misconstrued as out of context and inaccurate portrayal of the situation, especially if the aim of the film is to create awareness to the audience who never heard of LRA before.
There are important facts the critics who advance the argument that the LRA is a spent force,simply because they are out of Ugandan borders ought to be made aware of. In the first place, Joseph Kony is indicted for the crimes heal ready committed, not the ones he never committed yet. So, wherever he is, he needed to be detained. The effort to stop him sooner thanlater, go a long way to prevent his future actions. Hence, it is essential in the effort to apprehend Kony that all are to be reminded of LRA's brutalities; past, present, and future potential, just as itis portrayed in the Kony 2012 campaign film. Second, even though theLRA are currently not operational in Northern Uganda, the group still remains mainly of Ugandan origins and is firmly in tact. Perhaps those critics who believe that the LRA is a spent force, simply because they are out of Uganda need to be reminded that the group actually becomes a much bigger regional threat that continues with the routine looting, kidnapping, rapping, and killing of innocent lives in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. It may be true the life in Northern Uganda returns to normal, but not in areas currently affected by LRA and those captives under their custody, who by the way include Ugandans.
Besides, the aim of the group to wage the war in Uganda never changed iota, and the group isdoing everything in its powers in trying to stay alive. For thegroup, the move farther from Ugandan borders, even though done underpressure, serves as a tactically withdrawal, while the group buys allthe time it gets. Third, it is a culmination of mounted pressure suchas the one exerted by Kony 2012 campaign film, which in part drovethe LRA out of Ugandan borders. If anything, such pressure must besustained, not just to keep the LRA off the Ugandan borders, but toalso ultimately flash them from the earth.
Thirdly, the afrocentriccriticism that the campaign to stop LRA atrocities should not bespearheaded by foreigners from abroad, because it portrays a negativeimpression of Africans not capable of solving their problems and thatsuch effort imposes foreign solutions to African problem is just alame excuse motivated by empty ideological pride. First, the effortto stop the LRA menace requires multiple pressures exerted bymultiple actors, from within Africa and from without. Kony 2012campaign film is one among many of such required strategies and itdoes not in any way stop those who think they also have bettersolutions to the problem from executing their plans. Otherwise, theburden of proof remains with those critics to yet come up with theirbetter solutions to the problem. It is ironic that those criticsselect to selfishly own the problems that they are yet to resolve,while trying to downplay an effort that shines light to theatrocities of LRA and creates empathy to their victims on a globalscale. The fact that the LRA has been in existence over the last twodecades should serve as a stark reminder for those afrocentriccritics that the problem has developed beyond Africans ability toresolve. Second, it is none other than an African country in the nameof Uganda, which referred the LRA case to the International CriminalCourt (ICC) for prosecution, hence, internationalizing the issue. Notonly that, the LRA activities affects more than five countries ofUganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central AfricanRepublic, and the Sudan, making the situation a regional one and bydefault an international concern. The United Nations is alreadyinvolved and so are other countries like the US, which deployedtroops on the ground.
It is an acknowledged factthat the LRA issue is a complex one, which requires complex solution.Therefore, Kony 2012 campaign film is one such great effort towardbetter solution for the problem. Let all those who are concerned joinin the effort, in whatever ways they see fit rather than trying tothwart an already successful campaign that shines light into JosephKony and can potential lead into his demise. Because of Kony 2012campaign film, millions of people of good will are now know of whoKony is and the evil he represents. Kony himself is aware that thefocus is zoomed on him. Evil thrives better in an environment ofdarkness, silence, isolation, and secrecy, but with such sustainedpressure and focus, Kony will be caught, dead or alive, and that willmark an end to the LRA atrocities and a new chapter for recovery forthe enduring victims.
- Steve Paterno is the author of The Rev. Fr. Saturnino Lohure, A Romain Catholic Priest Turned Rebel. He can be reached at email@example.com
- The views expressed in the 'Comment and Analysis' section are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author not Sudan Tribune.