I watched Kony 2012 over the weekend. The video posted on YouTube by US advocacy group Invisible Children, had been shared by many a friend on my Facebook wall during the past week, telling me to ‘just watch it’, so I did just that.
Fascinating piece of propaganda it is too. If you are not one of the 80 million + who has already viewed the 30 min long film on YouTube, here’s a brief synopsis:
Jason Russell visited Uganda 10 years ago and ever since has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of the LRA- a rebel group led by Joseph Kony responsible for the abduction of thousands of children to build his guerrilla army in central Africa. After setting up Invisible Children, Russell’s efforts were eventually acknowledged by the U.S. government who agreed to deploy special forces to support the Ugandan army in efforts to track down Kony so that he can be brought to justice. ‘Kony 2012’ was created in Russell’s own words to “make Kony famous”, citing that as long as people know who Joseph Kony is, the US will continue their military support in central Africa until he is found. The video says it will only be streamed for 2012.
Watching the video you are encouraged to make donations to the cause, buy a trackable bracelet and on April 20th take part in an activity called ‘Blanket The Night’, in which we will all wake up in the morning to find our cities plastered with images of Kony.
What’s fascinating is how the whole episode is now escalating. Jason Russell has suffered from an incredibly public nervous breakdown in the midst of all the hype/ criticism. Meanwhile, Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has gone on the PR offensive using the same social media platforms stressing that Kony is no longer in the country, bizarrely tweeting celebs including Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, inviting them to visit.
Regardless of your political view, thoughts about the creator, and opinions on the cause, it’s an extraordinary story to follow and an astonishing demonstration of the power of social media. Jason Russell has literally got the world talking- who could have predicted to what effect?
It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens on April 20th. I’ll be honest, I’m probably not going to make a donation, nor buy a bracelet, neither will I be getting up at 3am to stick a poster up in Beech Road park. But I am now aware who Kony is. Objective achieved.