Kony 2012, a 30-minute video about the head of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) which went viral last week, has been promoted further by social media endorsements and campaigns by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey.
The awareness program by San Diego-based charity - Invisible Children - received over 70 million YouTube views so far. However, the campaign and the various initiatives have been subjected to widespread speculations with many openly criticizing the video.
Ugandan guerrilla group leader Joseph Kony has been blamed for mass killings, mutilations and rape. Through the years, the LRA has earned a reputation for its actions against various nations. The organization has kidnapped and forced around 66,000 children to fight for them and has reportedly forced the internal displacement of over two million people since its rebellion began in 1986.
In 2005, Kony was indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands. Though he has evaded capture, yet atrocities are still being committed by Kony and the LRA in DR Congo and some other regions.
The guerrilla leader's popularity surged last week after the documentary by filmmaker Jason Russell for the Invisible Children had been released.
The prime aim of the production was to draw attention to Kony in an effort to increase the United States' involvement in the issue. However, the makers of the video have been criticized by Ugandans who believe that the video is yet another neo-colonial campaign that indicates that Africans are powerless to help themselves.
This is another video where I see an outsider trying to be a hero rescuing African children, a blog post by Ugandan journalist Angelo Izama mentions. We have seen these stories a lot in Ethiopia, celebrities coming in Somalia, you know. It does not end the problem. I think we need to have kind of sound, intelligent campaigns that are geared towards real policy shifts, rather than a very sensationalized story that is out to make one person cry, and at the end of the day, we forget about it.
Get a glimpse of the guerrilla warlord in the images given below:
Joseph Kony addresses his first news conference in 20 years of rebellion in Nabanga, Sudan, where he called for a ceasefire with the government as a prelude to peace talks, August 1, 2006. Reuters
Joseph Kony in an image taken from Reuters TV in Nairobi in May 2006. Reuters
Joseph Kony (seated C), surrounded by his officers, addresses a news conference in Nabanga, Sudan, August 1, 2006 Reuters
Joseph Kony addresses a news conference in Nabanga, Sudan, August 1, 2006. Reuters
Joseph Kony speaks to journalists at Ri-Kwamba in southern Sudan in November 2006. Reuters
Joseph Kony of the Lord's Resistance Army is seen in this image taken from Reuters TV in Nairobi in 2006. Reuters
"Kony 2012," a 30-minute documentary produced by Invisible Children, hit YouTube on March 5. Six days later, amid controversy regarding the claims made in the video about Joseph Kony and the nonprofit's methods, over 100 million people have seen "Kony 2012," which makes it the most successful viral video in Internet history. Reuters