The #Kony2012 show

The boy had lost his brother, and as he wept before Jason Russell’s camera, Jason Russell brushed back the loose strands of his magnificent blond coiffure (who will play him in the movie version?) and told the boy in hushed tones: “It’s okay. It’s okay.” Jason Russell promised the boy that he, Jason Russell, would do everything he could, would stop at nothing, would move mountains if need be, just to make sure that everybody in the world would finally come to know the name of Jason Russell.

Wait! Sorry! The name of Joseph Kony. This is all about Joseph Kony after all. Not Jason Russell. Nope, nothing at all to do with him.

It must be because “Kony 2012” is about Joseph Kony and not about Jason Russell that there is so much footage of Jason Russell’s young son, Gavin, worshipping Jason Russell atop trampolines and on beaches and at kitchen tables, and professing his hope that one day he might grow up to be just like Jason Russell.

Obviously! I mean how the hell else do you make a movie about the Lord’s Resistance Army?

And so it was that Jason Russell came to make a film (well, the eleventh version) in which the heroic Jason Russell makes a film in order that everyone in the world should finally know the name of the  internationally-renowned, globally notorious, definitely already world-famous warlord, Joseph Kony. It was to be the untold story of a much-chronicled man.

If this challenge were not daunting enough, Jason Russell also took it upon himself finally to convince the world that Kony, the man who had hitherto been merely the very first name on the International Criminal Court’s most wanted list (indicted on 33 counts including war crimes and crimes against humanity seven years ago), should in fact be arrested.

Great Scott! Why didn’t anyone think of that before?

The “Kony 2012” show is here, and the whole thing is a miserable fraud.

It’s meant to be an “awareness-raising” film. What it is is a study of a bunch of vain and ignorant young people who can think and feel only in cliches and appear to be laboring under the notion that Mark Zuckerberg invented both compassion and democracy for them sometime around 2004.

They want to empower you. And as a group of entitled white Americans, they know exactly what real power looks like. That’s why they’re giving you the chance to demand that America wage yet another bloody war based on zero knowledge and maximum hysteria whipped up over the wickedness of a single foreign figure. This is what democracy looks like according to Jason Russell: the power to choose on Twitter and Facebook who is to be the next target of America’s moral manhunt, all with the benediction of a panel of biddable celebrities.

You say Zooey Deschanel has tweeted that she wants to stop Joseph Kony? You say Kony has reduced Vanessa Hudgens to tears? But of course, we must send in the drones.

A writer from Northern Uganda, Musa Okwonga writes in Britain’s Independent that he hopes the Invisible Children “see this campaign as a way to encourage wider and deeper questions about wholly inadequate governance in this area of Africa.”

And this, generally, has been the considered view offered by those fair-minded folk who recognise the film’s sheer idiocy but hope that the “awareness” raised by it will lead to intelligent engagement further down the line.

Unfortunately this completely misses the point. The point of the film is absolutely not to encourage deeper questioning of Ugandan governance. The name of Uganda’s Life President Yoweri Museveni is nowhere to be found. Instead the point is to “literally cry your eyes out” (see Twitter passim), having been moved into a frenzy of moral clarity by the quite revolting mixture of generalised disgust at black Africa, infatuation with white American virtue and technological superiority, and a dose of good old-fashioned blood-lust. (When it boils down to it, it is a call for assassination.)

You then parade your borrowed and branded sense of right and wrong (those production values are also your values, after all) by sharing the link to the film. Everyone except for Joseph Kony gets to feel that they’re in the right, and Jason Russell and his friends get famous for being good.

The problem with the “awareness” argument is that it suggests that interest in the war in Uganda can be separated out from the experience of intensely racialized and charisma-driven moral masturbation, an experience which turns out to be, more than anything, one of the most intensely satisfying kinds of identity-formation.

“Fight for that,” says one speaker, without letting on what “that” is, “because that is what is going to change this world, and that is what defines us.”

To ask people to climb down from the soaring heights of “Kony 2012” (remember how we fall down into Uganda from the heavenly realms of Jason Russell’s Facebook page?), a place where they get to feel both sanctified and superior, and truly descend into the mire of history and confusion is simply too big an ask. It would be boring and difficult and it would not be about Facebook or Angelina Jolie or coloured wristbands or me. When the euphoria evaporates and the Twittersphere has dried its tears (probably by the end of this week), all that remains will be yet another powerful myth of  African degradation beneath Western power–and Jason Russell will be famous and rich.

The blogging battles that have broken out in the past couple of days are welcome. This is being contested and the controversy, as well as the campaign, is becoming a big deal.

Foreign Policy features an excellent guest post (by Oxford student Michael Wilkerson) where he indulges in a spot of light fact-checking (whatever, so Kony and the LRA aren’t in Uganda, meh), points to Invisible Children’s dubious finances (surprise!), links to a strong piece by Ugandan journalist Angelo Izama and poses the timeless question: what are the consequences of unleashing so many exuberant activists armed with so few facts?

One consequence of all this is that in the future we’ll have to get used to crowdsourced foreign policy that will come with dollops of the white man’s burden and most likely won and lost in popularity contests on social media: for example, #Kony2012 was quickly displaced by #stopKony2012 at the top of the Twitter pyramid.

As for Jason Russell and Invisible Children: Earlier today a Ugandan writer friend wrote to me wearily but pithily:

Invisible Children is quite notorious. They are still stuck with the old, “sexy” Kony story even as Ugandan children die of a mysterious illness [nodding disease]. They refuse to move on. Man, those guys have made money marketing this idea. It’s disgusting.

* Picture Credit: Glenna Gordon.



Elliot Ross

Elliot Ross is senior editor at Africa is a Country. He tweets at @africasacountry and @futbolsacountry

  1. Understood, the method used is grossly reductionist. However, the value of “kony 2012” lies in the fact that it stands for and represent a unified and cohesive gathering of people towards a global human-rights cause. Occupy wall-street failed and if this fails, i have very little hope for future endeavors. Don’t rain on this parade & indirectly place doubt on future causes. Think positive and hope for the best.

    1. Gathering of people towards a global human rights cause? It’s a bunch of misinformed, easily convinced people who probably don’t have any idea of any other issue happening on a world scale. One video goes up on twitter and people go bat shit crazy. Over what? whats #stopkony2012? He’s been on the hitlist since 2005. Where were these people in 2005? Then homeboy Russell comes in and says its a ‘human’ issue and not a ‘political’ issue, but he rushes the masses of these misinformed people to the political headquaters of his country pushing for a military intervention? When the USA puts a military presence overseas (advisory or not) its a political issue and you bet they got some strategic reasoning for being there, not out of the goodness of their hearts. This has been repeated in history time and time again, especially recently with all this middle eastern occupation. The only thing that needs to change is the majority and their blindness. Be more aware of everything and question EVERYTHING!

  2. They couldnt even geographically place Uganda (according to them its in Central Africa). What else could they get right

    Being condescending doesn’t require intelligence. I agree with most points in this article but you don’t need to lower yourself to this to inform people.

  4. What are you doing to change the world? Oh and please don’t tell me about academics, they hide behind their complex words, theories and ‘research’. There is no perfect way to execute change. If it wasn’t for his annoying voice and hero-struck child, The world would still not know who Kony is or about the situation in Uganda. Atleast someone is doing something about the world, and not hidding behind critique and desktop activism.

    1. And what are you doing to change the world precisely? Reposting material ad nauseum, without taking even a moment to critically analyse any elements of the situation? Donating money and providing free publicity to an organisation who are clearly making a profit off not only the suffering of other people, but the people actually investing their time and wellbeing to resolving this issue, i.e.. the one hundred U.S. soldiers who have been deployed to Uganda since 2011? No one is supporting Kony, but that ought not mean that we reduce this the complexity of this issue to a simplified hero and villain scenario. Fact of the matter is, people in a position to act upon this issue have known about it, and did so long before this issue became fashionable. Resolution may not have been as swift as desired, but as you illuminated for the rest of us, ‘There is no perfect way to execute change.’ Simply because IC can yell the loudest about it, does not mean their intentions are pure or their actions effective.

      And by the way, I really enjoyed the anti-intellectualism you opened your response with, almost as much as the oblivious hypocrisy at its close. Because I’d like to measure you’re contributions to society and knowledge against those you so clumsily dismiss, because as far as I can tell , all you seem capable of is ‘hidding [sic] behind critique and desktop activism’.

      1. Karl if you leave me your email,I can actually email you what I have done and what I do.Yes I am just a simple ‘african young woman’, who does not regard herself as an intellectual. So not phased by your anti-intellectualism insult, atleast I do physically try to bring change to my people, intellectual or not. English is not my first language, but I would think it clear that criticizing someone who is trying to bring forth change is not productive in attempting to make the world a better palce.So I dont think im being a hypocritc.

    2. I totally agree with you 3rdworldhippie. The problem with the western society is that if its out of sight, its out of mind. Not enough people care about anything beyond their own backyard. If it was us fearing for our lives, worried that our kids would be turned to sex slaves or child soldiers. we would want world awareness and for justice to prevail. If you don’t believe in invisible children, make a difference a different way. It starts with you.

      1. you are never more straight to the point. agreed,Russel might be gloating for the blitz but at least he did something to chip at the the evil that is kony whilst those now criticzing were busy at nothing

  5. As a Ugandan who would like to see my country move on, this doesn’t do a lot of good for us. All the impressionable Facebook and youtube crowd will now associate those images with Uganda, yet the war ended in Uganda more than ten years ago. The biggest beneficiary of this video will be Invisible Children, a ‘charity organisation that spends most of its money on overhead costs and not on the children themselves.

    We now have to work twice as hard to get tourists to come to this beautiful country.

    1. Anna I hope you don’t mind i reposted your comment directly onto the invisible children’s website to raise some awareness of my own and show the narrow minded uninformed followers, of what true Ugandans input was on the Invisible Children’s organization

  6. Well said Anna. This whole campaign is terribly cliche, terrible over-used, and terribly tiring. It is tiring to always have Africa portrayed as the victim, as if there aren’t African people on the ground quietly and effectively doing work to ensure progress of their nations. The Kony campaign was not well researched at all, and leaves many gaps, as Anna rightly says, seeing as the war in Uganda ended more than ten years ago. It is not enough to applaud such actions on the notion of ‘they meant well’, when in fact their meaning well may have created much harm. Let us raise the bar. If one is to do good, then let this good be effective, well informed and thoughtfully executed, with an understanding of the environment one is entering, and the communities there-in. I nodded my head through-out most of this article – refreshingly blunt.

  7. I couldn’t even bother reading the whole thing, cause it’s the typical overanalytical bullshit that always comes back to try to downplay the efforts of a positive global cause.

    Who cares if the way they did it could’ve been done A or B… what matters is the awareness it’s bringing and how people are getting involved. Stop being a fucking downer all the time, where is that gonna get anyone?!

  8. Great piece.

    Minor point: #stopKony2012 was, I think, mostly used by people in support of Jason and IC. #stopkony, #kony2012 and #stopkony2012 were all popular; this wasn’t a schism, they had all bought into Jason’s narrative.

  9. This critique seems to be a perfect case study in intellectual angst. If this filmmaker gets awareness raised then one shouldn’t be so frustrated with their own lack of ability to do the same that their efforts turn to trashing someone else with noble intentions.

  10. Thank you for informing us about the evident shortcomings of this organization. However, you are missing the point and you really shouldn’t hate on this. I guess in your eyes ‘white’ Americans should just go back to sleep and allow politicians (who’s only real motivation is to be reelected) to deal with these issues. “Uganda, what?…..” NO cause is perfect. NO person is perfect. This is simply a model for future change. Embrace it or move out of the way. Its a step, though not a perfect one, in the right direction.

  11. KONY2012 is a desperate video. Where was Jason Russell and America when children were snatched from their mothers’ breasts by rebels? Where were they when abductions, mutilations, encampment, maiming, killings, raids etc were taking place? Were they waiting for the religious leaders, cultural leaders, political leaders and some of us who who hail from that “hopeless’ sub-region -Northern Uganda to fail so that they deliver us?. If America’s mission now is to arrest or kill Kony, it will be not because the world didn’t know, it will not be because we, who watched our own parents and relatives killed, did not care and neither does it mean they care. It only means Jason and his enthusiasts, were waiting for the right time to once again, rub the pepper of Western falsehood on our faces, that Africa -Uganda -northern Uganda, cannot solve its own problems. Let Jason and his cronies achieve their mission, but let them know that even if they are preaching for another military approach to an end to the war – we will not die all and definitely not in vain.

  12. As awful as Kony is, I think it obvious that one of the biggest enemies we face is the NATO and US military machine. 1.5 million dead in Iraq, and conquests in countless other countries. If we truly want to change the world I think the military industrial complex and all its banking and corporate facades should be crippled, rather than eliminating evil rebel leaders and gov dictators one by one. Henry Kissinger should be higher on the global criminal list than Kony. Yet Im sure we wont be seeing a viral campaign calling for his head, Google and facebook would never allow that.

    1. We live with what we have. Cliches or not..profit earned or not..whether there is a hidden agenda or not…things have already been put in motion 36million views in 3 days…Only time will tell whether this is a scam or something that will change the course of history. I only hope that it does not fail just because people think that the video is too slick too good to be true.

  13. This article try’s to say that it’s all about the Director “Jason Russell”… In fact, after having watched this video a few times, I had not even remembered the name Jason Russell, until I read this article/blog/ in response to this video…. I do however remember the name Joseph Kony…. Who I had NOT previously ever heard of (as I’m sure most people hadn’t either).

    Yes the way that this video has been shot, may not be to everyone’s tastes and some people may find it a bit corny… You may even think that this is an advert for facebook and facebooks timeline! However, the video raises awareness – which I think it does very well.

    The video asks for public support – Some arguments say that this has been going on for many years now, why do people all of a sudden care… Well, why not? These are truly horrific things that are happening to the most vulnerable people in society – Children – and on a very large scale… Why would you not care? Ok so it’s not new news, but if you’ve not previously been aware of the situation, and now you are suddenly aware of it (like me) why would you not want to help…. These people need help and the general public in the western world should be made aware.. I cannot understand any argument that says otherwise.

    You say that this video and campaign is “Fraud”. Fraud is a MASSIVELY Strong word…. You make it out as if someone has set-up this whole Kony 2012 campaign to steal your money?!…. That simply is not the case. The video’s main purpose is to raise awareness and gain public support….. You do not have to donate to this if you don’t want to. However if you do wish to donate The TRI and invisible Children – this is a publically registered non-profit organization – so you can check and see exactly how they spend your donations… This is NOT a secret business running secret finances, trickling you out of your money and not telling you where it’s going….. It’s all there in black and white. It would seem as if 30% of donations go directly towards the people and children affected. With the majority of the remaining money being spent on making video’s, gaining media attention, public support, etc… So if you don’t agree with that, once again you do not have to donate… However the video clearly states that one of its main objective is to raise awareness, so they’ve already given you a massive heads up as to where the majority of the money you donate may be spent.

    I happen to agree that public support makes a HUGE difference when it comes to the decisions and policies that politicians make… I live in England and last summer there was a public outrage when we had large scale rioting, looting and public disorder… This directly lead to faster prosecutions and stiffer sentences which would not have happened if there had not been the thorough and extensive media coverage as well as the shared public opinion that what was happening was wrong… Public option counts, and if enough people want something, then the politicians eventually have to listen – and the end of the day they need your votes to stay in power!

    The response also says something about getting “America to wage yet another bloody war based on zero knowledge”… No that is incorrect, they are not demanding war. The few number of American Military officials are there in advisory roles only – the Kony 2012 campaign aims to keep them there in that role and hopefully to the successful capture and trial of Joseph Kony.

    Thanks for listening :)

    1. Hi Martin,
      I enjoyed your reply and agree. I found the tone of the article unnecessarily offensive.

      1. There are always going to be downers. I think this is an amazing movement. I totally agree with you Siri & Martin!

    2. I believe that the approach that STOPKONY / KONY2012 took is really not to help much. My question to you, is what is your present view of Africa, as a continent? What is your view on Uganda? The perception here is that everyone is dying,all the children are getting raped and recruited by Kony. How, so far have the US and UN helped in this situation?
      The question I would like to ask again is, who is arming these rebels? Why has Kony existed for so many years? These are paid militias, hired guns!! They are used for the purposes of the highest bidder.
      Further, this stop Kony campaign, how will it be implemented? Will the US troops move into Uganda? Will they be joined by NATO,bombing the forests until they route Kony out,like they did Gadhafi and Gbagbo?
      Whatever money you are giving, thinking you are helping us Africans, isnt really helping. You are just complicating the issues we have to deal with at the end of the day. You dont understand our problems,or the solutions thereof,however much you read about us. Dont use us to make yourself feel better about your do good desires.
      I appreciate the views that have been expressed here…at the end of the day AFRICA IS NOT A BROKEN STOOL,THAT NEEDS FIXING(if you know what a stool is)

    3. Martin you couldn’t have worded and written this any more perfect, I 100% agree with you so Thank You for saying everything I wanted to but couldn’t find the words to.

    4. “The few number of American Military officials are there in advisory roles only – the Kony 2012 campaign aims to keep them there in that role and hopefully to the successful capture and trial of Joseph Kony.” (Martin) The successfull capture of Kony – without any use of weapons or any victims as a consequence? You sincerely think that this could happen? How?Kony leaving the bush with hands up? I don’t know about that…but for some more information about the other disadvantages on this issue, I recommend the following video:

    5. Martin – I don’t disagree that publicly elected officials can be responsive to their constituents. But isn’t one of the more compelling arguments criticising the campaign the fact that there is simply no need to influence elected officials on this particular issue? That is, we have no reason to believe that Obama or Congress had any plans whatsoever to withdraw the advisors. This campaign seems like an awful lot of time and energy expended trying to stop something that wasn’t going to happen anyway.

  14. I very rarely comment on blog posts but this was a truly pathetic rant. More facts and less bitterness please. I am actually interested in getting a balanced picture. But this wasn’t it.

  15. All these people talking saying this video is just to raise ‘awareness’, bring kony to justice. What this NGO is actually doing is going to really harm the Ugandan people in the long term. I’m not implying that they are intentionally doing this, they probably have NO idea what its going to do. All you have to do is pick up a histroy book and read what happens to a vulenerable country when foreign aid and intervention (even if its an just an advisory role) come into the equation. Invisible Children went about raising awareness the WRONG way by lobbying their government. The US already has their nose in everybody elses business, this is just adding to the list. This war is OVER now. There are peace talks with the governments of the region. Capturing kony isn’t going to make a difference to the overall problem. Just like how capturing and killing Osama didn’t make a difference, his ideas are still very well in place. Konys ideas were planted and came to fruition a long time ago, His ideas will continue even after his capture UNLESS a legitmate change in the society at a grassroots level is made.

    One of the main points of the video is raise awareness to keep the US ‘advisory’ roles in place. That’s a bad idea. The US doesn’t have a very good rep overseas right now, their presence is most likly a negative one. They went in once already in the region and nearly 900 ppl died becaude of the rebel retailiation. They should get out and let the organization who is SUPPOSE to be in there, the UN forces, keep the peace. The US has done enough in Iraq, Afghanistan, Isreal, and the list goes on. The #stopkony hashtag and the spread of kony2012 is in direct correlation with the NGO that Is pushing for a longer presence, which will legitimize their presence there. They don’t need to be there and they shouldn’t be there, Uganda is a soverign nation.

    One question the #stopkony army should be asking is, why is it that a nation that struggles to feed their people has enough weapons and resources to wage a 26 year civil war. Oh maybe because since the end of the Cold War the US has pumped over 120 million dollars worth of foreign aid and direct weapons transactions to Uganda. Those weapons don’t disappear over time, they find new uses and unfortunely this kony guy found.

    1. You know, a quick search could tell you that Invisible children is active in the DR Congo and Central Africa…where the LRA is active. They have clearly stated in the video that they want an advisory role to support local military, no invasion. In fact they say on their webpage FAQ that they really don’t have much support for many Americans coming over to Uganda or elsewhere to help because they thing its better to help Africans help africans…

  16. The Great Brouhaha: The Kony2012 Debacle:

  17. The problem is that people think money and diplomacy will fix things. Throw money at it and it mysteriously disappears. Engage in lengthy peace talks and more people die in the time it takes to get anything done. These guys are either ignorant or downright scam artists. Awareness does not fix things like this. You are not helping the cause if you help them. The only answer to corruption and terrorism is assassination. The more people you have fighting against a person, the less likely you are to kill him. The sad reality is that we can not do anything. You want Kony dead? Hire mercenaries.

    1. I hope that was a joke. Kony’s group were mercenaries that were hired to fight other mercenaries, and then realized that being fanatic warlords can be profitable. Repeating the process is a stupid plan.

  18. Excellent piece. Invisible Children has always rubbed me the wrong way, and this whole slacktivist campaign just confirms what I’ve always suspected about the organization and its methods/aims/general reputability. The comments here are truly telling, as well–people would rather pretend this highly visible organization is helping, and that they, too, are “helping” by “raising awareness” than actually face facts and learn about the issue in all of its complexities. Typical intellectual laziness and white guilt/white savior crap, once again.

  19. Kony is a scapegoat for all the other problems in the region and Africa as a whole. There is a slew: diseases (malaria, AIDs, nodding disease), inadequate infrastructure (water, electricity, roads), mass starvation, poverty, unemployment, the corruption of an inept government, and the pettiness and ruthlessness of selfish dictator. Lastly, the unrestrained horrors of war: rape, enslavement, murder, and local disputes over scarce resources. All of that cannot be laid at the feet of one man, though Kony is surely to blame for his large share in the bloodshed, his arrest would not solve any of this (though it is true that his deserves to be tried at the ICC for his role. One thing the video got right is this: we fortunate Americans seem to care only when it aligns with the Entertainment frenzy, and I doubt that either the citizenry or politicians of the developed world will even bother for a second to truly address the problems that this humanitarian disaster faces.

  20. The indignant response to criticism, via GOOD mag interview.

    GOOD: What are your thoughts on people who say this video is an addition to the “white savior” canon?

    JENKINS: To be completely candid, I think that’s the most absurd and offensive accusation. The whole point of the movie is that we are all humans. If this were white people suffering these crimes, we would be there, too. It has nothing to do with race and it has nothing to do with neo-colonialism. This has to do with us having the resources to help fight for people who don’t have resources. Also, look at the staff page on our website to see how many Africans work with us. It’s not as if we’re all white guys from San Diego.

  21. Invisible Children isn’t scot-free, but then, who isn’t? And if it weren’t for their Kony campaign, I doubt you’d have been giving a second thought while writing about hipster artists from Cameroon. The fact remains that the Kony campaign has ignited this massive debate about Africa, including this obnoxiously cynical rant.

  22. As a Yale- educated Black American, I have an interesting point of view with regard to issues like this. My education allows me to understand these issues from a political point of view, but my race allows me to see things in different perspectives from my well meaning liberal white peers. I completely agree with this article. I saw the interview tonite on Piers Morgan and I also vomited with disgust. I assure you that all the people disagreeing with this article in the comment section are white. They don’t understand the racialized history that movements like this stem from. They only see it from a current pop cultural point of view. Kony is a monster, yes but this is just an attempt for Mr. Jason Russell to make himself famous. The guy is obsessed and looks nuts. I also know plenty of guys, (and im assuming he’s gay), like him. I would be very curious to see the level of “diversity” in his close intimate circle of friends. Mr. Russell, why don’t you leave the disposing of despots to the government where it belongs. This is essentially a public lynching with a racialized bent for personal gain.

    1. Great job that governments have done deposing despots (not sure Kony really counts as a despot, anyway) Also, assuming he’s gay? What in Mother Africa’s size 9,000 apple bottom jeans does that have to do with anything? you sound like a member of Uganda’s wonderful, incorruptible, tolerant government that has proven so adept at deposing its despots….

  23. Martin has to please allow every reader to lol at an unfortunate choice of words – “This is NOT a secret business running secret finances, trickling you out of your money and not telling you where it’s going….. It’s all there in black and white” – which I don’t think need further unpacking.

    But what bears pausing on, and not loling @, are

    [1] This, taken from the original article: “When the euphoria evaporates and the Twittersphere has dried its tears (probably by the end of this week), all that remains will be yet another powerful myth of African degradation.”

    and [2], which circuits back to [1]: The Shepard Fairey ripoff poster-ripoff given about 5 seconds of screen time in the Russel video, in which Kony is pictured/cartooned, third in a sequence of ‘truly evil’ masterminds: the two that precede him are Bin Laden and Hitler.

    Why exclude Sadaam Hussein (or, ahem, Jonas Savimbi)? – well neither is so straightforward, and this is not about politics; this is about global consensus (figured graphically by merging icons for the two dominant American political parties), coming together prior to state politics the effect state policies.

    So what’s the basis on which this cohesion can be imag(in)ed? – well, obviously, one of African degradation: opulent, grubby, and infertile pointless evil that doesn’t even qualify as machinating or cynical the way Rumsfeld or Cheney’s brand would. Let’s be honest about the fact that no good will come out of this, and that what we’ll be left with is the consecrating of the image of the white NGO do-gooder – an absolute stereotype of himself – cut into the bodies of black Africans imaged as living dead.

  24. Why would you even consider bringing sexuality into this? Whether or not Jason Russell is gay has nothing to do with the topic at hand. A lot of good your “Yale education” did you.

  25. I’d like to ask everyone who is for the 2012 kony video, why do you think we are so opposed to help from your government? There is a way for things to be done, and this is not it. You have to admit that the people who are supposed to be the main beneficiaries from this campaign (and should be singing and dancing in the streets) were offended and hurt by it. Please try to understand why. I am an Acholi form Uganda.

  26. Invisible children is a charity that claimed about 13 million last year. They spent 8.5 million on costs, including some really odd expenses, $800,000 on computers, $140,000 on postage and $85,000 on utilities, insurance and many $200,000 +claims for a fancy fleet of vehicles and the like, just to name a few. Only about 3 million made it , if it did in direct charity. I am just waiting in the next few days when these guys come under some serious scrutiny because so far it looks like total BS.

  27. Maybe if the name of your blog were, i would have read whatever sense or nonsense you have in that blog, i think your so caugt up in negativity and for the record, that is the price of being a super power, you always have to look for the next hunt whether or not it is Gadaffi, Kony or Sadam Hussein, its just the way it is.

    1. super power.super man.god bless of the world is satan.god bless the us foreign policy for taking the lives of millions of children,throughout the last 60 years.oh yeah.

  28. Since we all know that Africa is a country, I guess that it is not worth mentioning that one of the picture used in the video to show how the 100 US military advisors/trainers are being active against the LRA, actually shows the Ethiopian Army being trained in anti-terrorist tactics back in 2006 (picture that you can see here And in case you wondered, Ethiopia couldn’t care less about the LRA.

    There is also a very blatant lie when they say that the reason why Kony is number 1 on the list of the ICC (which by the way doesn’t have a document titled the “World’s worst criminals list” (as shown in the video) in case you wondered) is not because he’s responsible for the ‘worst atrocities’ but because he was the first one to be indicted by the ICC (at the demand of Uganda btw). So if ever he was attributed the number 1 spot by the ICC it is because of a chronological listing not because of the scale or type of atrocities.

    Talking about the ICC, how come it is never mentioned in the video that the US has not ratified the Rome statute and is therefore not party to the ICC. Basically, the million US teens and stars would try to lobby their congressmen and senators to bring Kony to justice in front of an institution whose authority itself is criticized/not recognized by these US lawmakers (even though it’s true that the US has a working relationship with the Court).

    Oh, and still about the Court and the whole bringing him to justice thingy (which after all is the cornerstone of the Invisible Children campaign); one of the very reason why Kony refused to sign the peace agreement in 2009 is because he feared he would face a trial by the ICC. Without this ICC threat, he would have been more inclined to sign the peace agreement as he was on the back foot at the time. In fact, one of the most successful strategies used by Uganda against the LRA has been the offer of amnesty which led to the defection of several of its members including some high-level ones. (More about that here:

    Regarding the arguments that more (US) troops are needed in order to capture Kony and/or train the Ugandans to do so, they fail to even acknowledge that the area is already heavily militarised. You have the Ugandan troops trailing the LRA, but you also have the Congolese troops, the South Sudanese and the Centralafrican army, none of which are known for their respect for human rights and their presence already puts the local population at risk. But you also have more ‘professional’ armies on the ground including the UN peacekeepers of MONUSCO and the French army in the Centralafrican republic. All together they have never managed to catch Kony, and 100 (or more) US militaries aren’t gone change much.

    And as a way of conclusion on that Kony2012 video, let me say that either the guys that made the film are incredibly stupid to think that a 5 years old kid from San Diego’s suburbia can understand the complexities of a 25yrs conflict in Central Africa that already involves multiple international actors or they think that it is the viewers that are stupid and cannot understand that the situation is way more complex than what they present/pretend it to be.

      1. I think it rather proves that the guys behind Invisible Children are either ignorant of the actual situation on the ground or misrepresenting the truth.

        CAR and South Sudan have no military?
        South Sudan just became a country but they do have an army, which is mostly made up of the SPLA that spent 30 years fighting for independence. South Sudan is in fact trying to disarm and reduce the size of its armed forces and to make it more professional. It is not a good army (but neither is the UPDF), it still needs a lot of training, but it is a military force to reckon with none the less.
        CAR also has many problems with its army but it has one. And like for South Sudan they are also well battle tested as they have been in the past involved in an internal conflict in CAR. And they also receive quite a lot of support from France both in terms of training and logistical support (including intelligence) but also with french soldiers being directly involved in the fighting. (Here is a bit on information about French support to CAR in its fight against the LRA:

        On the role of the UN. Its mandate is to protect civilians, which in reality is very different from what the guys says is a “do no harm policy”. And it is a complete lie that they only protect their own base. In fact the UN troops have been deployed in various part of the areas where the LRA represented a threat to the local population. Just last December, in collaboration with the Congolese armed force (yes, despite being a ‘failed state’ they also do have one) they launched a large scale operation to prevent LRA attacks and were quite successful in doing so (see here some information in French about that operation:

        And still about the UN and its role in the hunt for the LRA, there was this strange story that came out, back in 2006:

  29. Name your sources – your “Ugandan writer friend” – who is he? Where is his information coming from? You are as bad as the people you write about. The taxman will eventually “out” Jason and his Invisibles as definitely after all this, they are not going to be ‘Invisible’ to the IRS!

    1. I think they are being ironic. Most news sites treat Africa as one big country while here they try to get to the details on the ground in each country

    2. Efia, please read the following sentence and tell me if you still have a question about the name of the blog.

      I have traveled to Canada, China, India, the US, and Africa.

      This kind of sentence is grammatically incorrect. But you see it even in respectable publications!

  30. Oh, in reference to my last “Comment” – that is IF Jason and the Invisible Children Inc. Organization indeed “have made [these bucket-loads of] money – marketing this idea” as you/your ‘Friend’ suggest.
    Note, I am placing ALL discussion about KONY12 onto my Wall for people to be informed and make up their own minds. But sometimes it just comes into my head that some Journalists are actually threatened by the whole KONY12 thing, it could have been ‘TONY12’ ‘Baloni12’ but this has threatened – some?, many?, – journalists because it is Journalism by the people for the people – that is a threat to some and it is the journalists that have been reacting so, so very loudly. And this is NOT my major point, but just something to put out there and in to the mix that is this topical debate…

  31. Funny that the same feeling that inspires the people who launched the campaign is mirrored in the people who criticise it, as it all quickly descends into a debate about who has the right to have an opinion and get attention for it. No one is asking for Kony to be assassinated, they are asking for him to be arrested and tried. Apart from feeling frustrated that a blond American has the resources to make this more likely, and that others have been saying the same for years – which are pretty minor objections – what is the problem, exactly?

  32. Thanks for this. I was actually squirming at the the beginning of the video where Russell talks about his son and himself! If he doesn’t have enough sense to see that this part of the video would look so bad, I am not sure if his work should be taken seriously. That is in addition to other problems in the video.

  33. Yes, and by all means let’s not try to put a mass murdering evil bastard behind bars. What example would that set? No, let’s spend our time and energy discussing how morally superior YOU are.

    It takes me a ton of effort to refrain from writing my true extremely low opinion of you, so this will have to do: the perfect is the enemy of the good.

  34. “‘This paints a picture of Uganda six or seven years ago, that is totally not how it is today. It’s highly irresponsible.’ – Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan journalist.

    ‘Suggesting that the answer is more military action is just wrong. Have
    they thought of the consequences? Making Kony ‘famous’ could make him
    stronger. Arguing for more US troops could make him scared, and make him
    abduct more children, or go on the offensive.’ – Javie Szozie, an Ugandan blogger.

    ‘What that video says is totally wrong, and it can cause us more problems
    than help us! There has not been a single soul from the LRA here since
    2006. Now we have peace, people are back in their homes, they are
    planting their fields, they are starting their businesses. That is what
    people should help us with.’ – Dr Beatrice Mpora, the Ugandan director of Kairos, a community health organisation in Gulu.”

  35. I have been reading all the posts, investigating on web sites, reading about the history of Uganda, Kony, the president, the army… Of course everybody has an opinion, we can criticize the video, the campaign, Invisible Children, Jasson Russell, the actors, the young people giving money or “liking” on facebook, but we should also celebrate people’s interest for good causes, people trusting other people that take the lead and at least do something. Facebook, whether you like it or not changed the way people communicate. You might think these guys are naive, and that might be true, but they are standing behind their ideas, human values, they have dreams of a better world. Why are go so cynical? Why do we have to see the bad in good causes? You can think Jasson is getting publicity for his movies, you can criticize him for having his son in the video and his son wanting to be like him. But it would be better to see a truly happy boy, being naive (that is how children should be), loving his dad and being proud of him, saying and showing how he feels when he is told bad guys are hurting children. For me, Jasson was trying to compare the way his son lives and how he embraces life and family with the way abducted and persecuted children live theirs. Why can’t we think he used his own child to really get involved and show he really cares.Maybe someone else would have done it differently. Maybe the people criticizing so much have better ideas, do something then. Use your knowledge, your experience, and the same passion you have for criticism and get out there.
    Of course I think people contributing to these causes have the right to ask how their contributions are being used. Invisible Children should be audited and regulated, but should also get the support of people arguing they know better so the funds can really get to the right places. Lets not kill young people’s dreams of a better world, lets help, make these ideas better, contribute and HOPE things like this one reach many people, have an effect on their feelings and create responsibility. Lets HOPE there are more people who want a better world.

  36. The video gave me heartburn after like six seconds of watching it. Since then I’ve read thirty thousand, thoughtful responses by Ugandan journalists, civil society activists, and media critics (Mamdani’s was very good). Truthfully though this was one of my favorites….I mean to some point you just have to call this stuff out as the steamy pile of shit it is.

  37. When the video was forwarded to me I expected it to be a fact-oriented and straightforward sort of film with probably some kind of shock value in it to justify the viral status. Instead I started feeling sceptical within the first 30 seconds of watching it meander around without getting to the point. Then it got even more cringeworthy with the blond guy turning it into an account of HIS life and his kid etc. rather than focus on making a much shorter crisper film that would focus on showing more of what the children in Uganda were being pout through. But now it turns out even that was being misrepresented.

  38. I’m going to leave this simple. You used no facts in this post at all to prove whatever your point it. A bunch of big words isn’t going to prove that Kony 2012 is a fraud.

    1. Your view is either an innocent fallacy of logic, or else you’re wired-in deep to the IC charity or belief in their video. There are a bunch of very good facts represented by the original author, who I would suggest is a credible source, but also note that many of the respondents have provided links, which you need to explore and reference.

      The logical fallacy is that others have to “prove that Kony 2012 is a fraud”. The fallacy is to assume automatically that Kony2012 is not a fraud. Even if you believe it has merit (and, at best, it has some) why assume that the picture it paints is correct and beyond reproach?

      If you’re a believer who has enrolled after watching – go follow some links, use google, and learn.

      If you’re an IC employee or troll, well, hopefully others will understand the nonsense of these “trust until proven otherwise” views.

  39. underneath your frustrating sarcasm you seem to just be sore Russel found a method that worked and you didn’t. Truth of the matter is there were a lot of people talking about Kony but they were only talking to each other and Russel finally got “the masses” to listen. May be messed up the way he did it but that says more bout how messed up the masses are not about him plenty of people use the need for a Savage Victim Savior myth for less noble purposes.

    1. Yep…”Phony 2012″ has got you hook, line and sinker!

      Listen to the “Kony 2012” narrator’s own words when he says that the US would not intervene unless there was something in it for them…only to later imply that it was the campaigning of “invisible children”, that changed their minds!

      Now – go to google and look up “Uganda, Oil discoveries”. You’ll soon find out that only a few years ago, GIANT oil reserves were discovered in Uganda, rivaling even those of the middle east. There’s your reason! There IS something in it for the US powers-that-be…and it’s hidden in plain sight.

      This is a cynical FAKE grass-roots campaign, in order to get the those who are typically against military intervention to actually campaign for it! It’s brilliant, and diabolical. They totally earned their “evil genius” badges for that one.

      …And watch out – because there’ll be plenty more where that came from. Traditional media is losing it’s hold, so they’re turning to the same kind of “guerilla marketing” techniques long employed in the corporate world, with a focus on social media.

      Face it – You’ve been DUPED!

      Next time, try to be a little less gullible…and engage in some research and critical thinking.

  40. Mr. Ross’s thoughtful piece gestures at this but doesn’t quite come out and say it: Am I the only one who sees the eye of a child exploiter massing his own child army in the direction of the Kony 2012 video? I found the tone and the angle to be profoundly disturbing – I actually couldn’t even watch it. It is literally as if Jason Russell is starring as Joseph Kony, and that in a film putatively about exploited children. I’m left with my head in my hands wondering how things could come to be such a complex mess.

  41. Hi are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own.
    Do you require any html coding expertise to make your own blog?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Mailing List

Sign up for email updates!


Not the continent with 54 countries

©Africa is a Country, 2016