Alas, we’ve made Kony famous (again).

11 days and 80 million hits later, one thing is clear: the Invisible Children campaign has succeeded in one of its primary objectives, to make Joseph Kony “famous.” Whether this is a good thing is what has troubled so many. For an organization whose numbers have been dwindling for years, is taking down the LRA an idea “whose time has come; whose time is now?” (quoted from the YouTube video). I’m not really keen on jumping back on this bandwagon, as I do concede that anything that can get millions of youths to “look up from their iPhones” is a good thing (though I don’t agree with a great deal of what Kristof writes in that article). Nevertheless, I’ve come across a few additional articles on the Kony 2012 phenomenon that merit a share…

Alex de Waal is at it again, this time answering those who take issue with his criticisms of the Kony 2012 campaign by asking “so what would you do about Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army?” His response? To go through the nine-point approach of the 2006 International Crisis Group step-by-step, rating the effectiveness of each point. His conclusion?

African and international efforts have already solved most of the problems associated with the LRA and the conflict and humanitarian crisis in northern Uganda, and are making progress in the remaining areas. Let’s keep up those efforts.

Nevertheless, it looks like Uganda is spear-heading a renewed drive to capture Kony. Given their track record the last time they tried to hunt Kony down, is this really something we want…?

On a more light-hearted, but nevertheless important, note about Kony 2012, the Prime Minister of Uganda, Amama Mbabazi, recently tweeted several of the high-profile celebrities who had jumped on the Kony 2012 bandwagon. His message?

As PM of Uganda,I appreciate your interest & invite you to visit.We have peace,stability & great people.#KonyisntinUganda

Well played, sir. Well played.


Do we really want to make Kony famous?


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With all the furor surrounding Joseph Kony, it’s worth highlighting some of the helpful perspectives floating around the web. While the world could certainly do with Kony’s arrest, he is far less a menace in 2012 than he was in 2006. And when Nodding Syndrome claims the lives of far more children each year than the LRA, one has to wonder what what could be accomplished if we in “the West” could get our priorities straight. In the end, it seems that Joseph Kony wants to be famous. Don’t most megalomaniacs?

Alex de Waal’s take on the “Invisible Children” campaign? “Irresponsibly naive” and “peddling dangerous and patronizing falsehoods.” Read more of his excellent, albeit brief analysis of “Kony 2012” here.

Foreign Policy magazine says Kony’s not in Uganda? Say it ain’t so. Alas, the cold, harsh reality of trying to raise awareness without being sufficiently aware yourself is that you just may have picked the wrong issue to highlight:

In addition to the problems of poverty and nodding disease … Uganda is barely (if at all) democratic, and the president Yoweri Museveni ushered himself to a 4th term last year, taking him to over 25 years in power. Corruption is rampant, social services are minimal, and human rights abuses by the government common and well documented. Oh, and oil is on the way.

What do Ugandans think? At least one, blogger Javie Ssozi, remains unconvinced:

I wonder whether Jason thought through the consequences of using such words before he used them! I want Kony captured but not through use of provocative statements which could cause more harm than good!

On the other hand, Luis Moreno Ocampo of the ICC sticks up for the StopKony campaign. His take on it all? “These are just a bunch of kids from California, they could be off surfing or whatever but they’re not.” It’s a fair point, and one worth keeping in mind. At least Invisible Children is doing Rush Limbaugh one better, and not accusing the U.S. of trying to “wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda.”

Finally, the International Working Group on the LRA released their “Diagnostic Study of the Lord’s Resistance Army” last June, and it’s worth a read. In the final analysis, the report offers the much-needed reminder that,

in the highly politicized operational environment that constitutes the zone of LRA operations today, it is clear that the civilian population of the region will continue to bear the burden of host government incapacity unless some other credible and substantial protection presence can be deployed.