A good friend of mine is currently living in Uganda. She recently went to Gulu, a city that Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) used to occupy for their inhumane (to put it mildly) endeavors. In her blog she shares some of her witness to the healing that has taken place by past victims of the LRA, including one of Kony’s wives and children.
As many of you remember, in 2012, the organization Invisible Children released a video about Joseph Kony. Its intentions were to inform the world – make Kony famous – and essentially, help bring an end to the rebel group. There has been much criticism over the video since then:
- Invisible Children is highly biased; the film does not give the whole story
- This video was a money grab
- They do not use their funding efficiently or ethically
- Filmmaker Jason Russell shows inappropriate behaviour after the video’s release, questioning the legitimacy of the organization
Picture from the first Invisible Children Stop Kony video.
Invisible Children released a second, much less publicized, video in response to some criticisms.
Because information is so accessible and social media gives many more people a voice, it is difficult to make truth of situations like this. One critic highlights the notion that the LRA was initially formed in resistance to Uganda’s National Resistance Army, which was exploiting children. Whether that is true or not, the LRA’s current mandate is no more justifiable.
The video was evidently unsuccessful in bringing down Kony. What the video did succeed in, however, is getting people to act. I am not saying the awareness raising events – Cover the Night – posters, t-shirts and bracelets were effective. But, they got people moving towards something likely more productive than what participants would have been doing otherwise.
I am hesitant to say that at least the video raised awareness because
a) just raising awareness is not always enough and
b) it was highly one-sided.
But, again, it got the attention of millions about a topic that does require attention to be solved.
While Invisible Children may not be seeing the success they intended, my friend’s blog is proof that issues are being addressed. If you can’t stop Kony, you can at least stop what he has done by addressing the needs of the people that used to be a part of his agenda. At Laminadera Village in Gulu, Uganda, that is precisely what is happening.
In the words of my friend “Gulu is a place resurrected. Redeemed. A place of peace. The peace that comes only from knowing a time of great pain.” Encouragement for any development worker.