Earlier this week and even this morning, my mailbox and Facebook page were filled with links to the Kony 2012 video, depicting children who are taken against their will, kidnapped, often killed or maimed and ultimately made to become soldiers in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) a guerilla group in Uganda.
The video draws a parallel between Jason Russell’s son Gavin, and the children who were abducted by the LRA. Showing that Jason wants his son to grow up in a world where children everywhere aren’t afraid of being taken by anyone. So far it’s all good.
Then the video ends with the plea for the viewer to send them money, they even sell bracelets and “action kits” for their cause. The problem with all this though is that Kony, along with his troops, has been pushed out from Uganda into Congo and is in hiding in the Garamba National Forest, in 2005. (source) Today, in 2012, Kony is in hiding, starving. With very little resources to work with, he is probably surviving in a rat-hole, like Saddam Hussein was before his capture.
Yes you read that right, the LRA’s attacks on the villages have ceased since 2005. So essentially, the Kony 2012 campaign, although well meaning, is not only too late, but also badly executed in the sense that yes, today in Uganda there still are problems, but the LRA and Kony are not one of them, at least not to the extent depicted in the video. Are children still suffering from malnutrition or other ailments in Uganda? Absolutely. Like in lots of other countries including Latin American countries and Northern Europe, even North America.
So the focus of the video, showing African children to attract donations, is not only misleading but almost outright naughty.
Does this mean we should stop giving money to Invisible Children? I can’t tell you what to do, it has to be your own decision, but it does mean that the kony 2012 video is at the very least suspicious and should be treated with the same caution as the Nigerian Prince scam.