I wasn’t going to post about Kony 2012, because :
- I’m not an aid blogger. Half this blog is just MS Paint pictures. Probably more than half.
- Everything there is to be said about the issue has been said by those much smarter and much more eloquent (and much funnier) than myself.
- I’m a white American girl in South Sudan, and this issue is at its base largely about (culturally) white people speaking for Africans (by whom I mostly mean northern Ugandans).
That all being said, obviously this is a post. Because after watching the video (A 30 min video may take you 30 min to watch. For me it takes 2 days. Or as my friend said, “My internet in Africa is too slow to watch this video about Africa everyone is talking about.” Yay internets), all I can say is Hell. Fucking. No.
“This movie expires on December 31st, 2012, and it’s only purpose is to stop the LRA and their leader Joseph Kony.” Really? Because I could have sworn it was to get people to sign a petition. Or buy a bracelet. Or tweet at the Biebs or something. I watched the video and I still don’t really know what its purpose is. Word choice, um, is important, kinda.
“The problem is 99% of the world doesn’t know who Kony is.” No actually, that is not the problem. Not. The. Problem. I’m pretty sure that more than 1% of the world knows who the Taliban is, and probably al Shabaab, too. Being obscure (at least on an international scale, which, in an international comparison, the LRA is really not) isn’t the problem.
Listen, I’m an activist in my heart. Loves me a good protest. Think the power of the people is bad ass. In the past I’ve always been more or less just “meh” about IC, despite the criticism that have been lauded on them. But I can’t, don’t, and won’t support IC’s Kony 2012 video. And in all honesty, most of the people I know and have talked to here (which is – granted – limited to my own little secluded world) who have watched it feel the same way.
Because this? This is just insulting. It vastly, vastly, vastly oversimplifies the aspect into “good guys” and “bad guys.” It strips Ugandans particularly (and South Sudanese, Central Africans, and Congolese peripherally) of their agency. It ignores the work which is being done by local individuals and groups on the ground, now and for the past 25 years. It perpetuates the myth that “Africa” is a warzone (when Gulu specifically is a vastly different place in 2012 than it was in 2002). It treats this incredibly complex issue as something so easy to understand and end, a four year old can understand it (btw, whose middle name is actually Danger! That’s awesome. Parenting win?).
So no, I cannot condone or support this video. I appreciate that people are talking and debating, and I don’t think IC is comprised of malicious people, but this is just awful. Discussion and debate without proper context are dangerous.
Therefore, please, before you go tweeting at the Biebs (really? The Biebs is Africa’s greatest hope? ohdearlord), do some further research. Look into the issue and weigh both sides. Figure out if Obama was ever threatening to remove those 100 advisors he sent last fall (I haven’t read anything, but maybe IC has inside info?). If you still think at that point this is the best course of action, and the way to arresting Kony, is by raising awareness and putting pressure on the American government, well, agree to disagree.
But please don’t just repost the video because it makes you sad, mad, and is a fad (yeah, I rhymed there).
Sigh. Sometimes I fear I’m turning into a Republican. But then I remember I like taxes and libraries and gay people.
And if you didn’t have enough links to read (and you should) up above, here’s some more:
Link Madness: www.whydev.org/a-readers-digest-of-kony-2012/
IC Official Critique Response (I appreciate/respect them for this, but still disagree): www.invisiblechildren.com/critiques.html
Ehtan Zuckerman: Unpacking Kony2012
International Crisis Group: The LRA: End Game? Nov 2011
and last but not least
Foreign Policy blog: Kony is Not in Uganda (and other complicated things)
And ETA Wronging Rights: Solving War Crimes with Wristbands: The Arrogance of Kony 2012
and HRW: Letter to Obama from Civil Service Reps in LRA-affected areas of DRC, CAR and South Sudan
And to top this all off, Happy International Women’s Day!! If you just can’t get away from the LRA/Kony story but still want to acknowledge the 101st IWD, check out Women of Kireka, which lots in the Kony-critique madness have tweeted/blogged about as an example of local initiative.