Kony 2012! Its entered the conscience, the consciousness of every individual who has access to youtube or simply can’t resist that ever seductive ‘share’ button. More viral than any other video, Kony 2012 has made a lasting impact on the public with an estimated six million views in just a week. Social media is rife with ‘Stop Kony’ slogans and reposts of the video.
What this video fails to do is explain the complexities of what is happening in Uganda. I think the part of this campaign that aggravates me the most is that half the people who are supporting it could not point Uganda out on a map, they could not tell you about the Ugandan government nor the issues of inadequate governance that define the region. I’d place bets on the fact that most people could not even tell you who the Ugandan president is. Uganda has experienced hostile conditions and human rights abuses for over 20 years. Notoriety hasn’t proven effective before, we hardly messaged the CIA when we located Osama on facebook or when Saddam poked us, making them famous didn’t aid in their capture because in all honesty what is the average person actually going to do to make a difference? What makes an African warlord any different? What will his sudden thrust into fame accomplish? Everyone feels like an activist for reposting a generic political statement that they heard in a video, but what do they plan on doing with this information? Shall we begin by facebooking Kony himself and urging him to turn himself in to the American government? Shall we do it more Where’s Waldo style and try and spot the warlord? Joseph Kony and child soldiers are hardly a new problem in Africa, he’s been committing these atrocities since 1986, which sparks my question, why the sudden interest now? Could it possibly be due to the fact that the US government found oil in Uganda a couple of months back? It’s not like oil has been the basis of a war under the guise of extracting a terrorist and providing better governance before. Generally its self-interest that gets the US government to take part in anything. It’s naive to think that making Kony internationally recognised to people who want to support a cause without getting off their couches and logging off their laptops is going to make a difference. And I can guarantee you that the money Invisible Children makes off their donations and selling those wonderfully fashionable ‘Stop Kony’ political activist bracelets is hardly being used for what you think. Invisible Children’s most recent financial statement from 2011 states that they took in $13.8 million. They spent $8.9 million in total, $2.3 million on marketing, $1.4 million on management and general expenses, $700 000 on media, $850 000 on merchandise to create awareness and a mere $3.3 million on actual programmes on the ground in Africa. That hardly gives me any faith in the organisation.
What did you learn from Kony 2012? That there’s child soldiering in Africa? It’s been happening for decades without half the world caring. I don’t condone Kony’s actions, I think he is a pathetic excuse for a human being. However, I don’t believe that social media can aid in his capture. It’s simply like reposting one of those statuses about cancer, it makes you feel like you’ve made a difference when in reality you haven’t accomplished much in the fight against cancer.