KONY 2012: Humanitarianism of Colonialism?

By Voice of Africa Radio [Bro. Omowale and Sis. Kai]

When US based non-profit organisation Invisible Children released their 30 minute documentary KONY 2012 online on March 5 2012, it almost instantaneously went viral breaking all records.  Within four days over 20 million people had viewed it.  Now that figure is over 100 million.  The premise of the film, told through the eyes of former child soldier Jacob, is that Joseph Kony, leader of the Uganda based Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is “’the World’s worst war criminal’ on par with Hitler and Osama Bin Laden, is responsible for unspeakable atrocities and the disappearance of 30,000 children in his campaign against the government of President Yoweri Museveni.  The poster for the film features the peace dove superimposed on the entwined logos of the USA Democratic and Republican parties with the slogan “one thing we can all agree on.”  KONY 2012 ultimately calls for military intervention to pursue Kony and bring him before the International Criminal Court (ICC) by December 2012, when the campaign ends.  and gets the sanction of President Obama  in the form of a letter officially authorizing 100 combat-ready military ‘advisors’ to help track down Kony and the LRA.

Not only has the film’s cause been endorsed by a range of celebrities (including: Lady GaGa, Bill Gates, George Clooney, Bill Clinton, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, Angeline Jolie Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Oprah Winfrey, ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International), in terms of viewership it has had most impact on young people (18-29).  According to research by Pew Research Center, people in this age group more than twice as likely to have watched the video than those in the 30-49 group and almost three times as much as those in the 50-64 group.  The Pew team adds that in the first days after the release 66% of Twitter responses were supportive of the campaign, although this figure has been declining ever since.

However, not everyone has been persuaded by this global phenomenon.  Blogger Sokari Ekine refers to ‘White Saviour Industrial Complex’, while  Black Agenda Report Managing Editor Bruce Dixon in his 14/03/12 article Social Media Scam Alert: Top Ten Ways to Tell Kony is Phony, asserts that the success of the KONY 2012 is less a social phenomena than many have assumed: “Thanks to relentless promotion by Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Bloomberg News, ABC, CBS, Oprah, celebrities and politicians of both corporate parties, along with right wing church groups and foundations, the Kony 2012 video has gone viral.”  Another area of contention is the characterisation of President Museveni as the “good guy” in this scenario.  While it is true that he has been a strong ally of the USA, this doesn’t preclude him from some of the crimes that even the LRA are accused of abuses not, not only in the LRA’s stronghold in the Acholi region of northern Uganda but also in the Democratic Republic of Congo (alongside Paul Kagame’s Rwanda).

The timing for the KONY 2012 campaign has also been questioned given that the documentary was allegedly filmed in 2003 as well as the fact that the LRA are said to be at their lowest point for several years.  In his article The Congo Conundrum: Truth Catches Up With Obama, Journalist Antoine Roger Lokongo claims that the LRA are at their weakest point in 15 years with their forces “fractured and scattered,” adding that as recently as 2003 they had 3,000 armed troops and 2,000 people in support roles. Now only 200 to 400 fighters remain.  Moreover, Kurt Nimmo at infowars.com posits that Kony has not actually been seen since 2006 and may not even be in Uganda and may even be dead.  Some have also queried how criminals are defined in that Joseph Kony is a wanted man but not, for example, George W Bush or Tony Blair in spite of the one million or more deaths (Opinion Research Business poll) as a result of the Iraq war fought on a false prospectus.

These factors have led some commentators to suggest that KONY 2012 is being used as a pretext for Africom (USA Africa Command) intervention to secure natural resources for the USA.  Such arguments are largely based on the alleged links between Invisible Children and the CIA and locate KONY 2012 within the realms of USA military psy-ops (psychological operations) aimed at misinforming and misdirecting its largely young audience while furthering USA strategic objectives.  So in spite of the humanitarian facade, according to Professor Horace Campbell, Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University, less than one third of the donations received by Invisible Children organization goes to the ‘victims’ in Africa.  Moreover, he argues: “From the period of colonialism and the imperial partitioning of Africa, humanitarianism has always been presented as a front for military operations… Now, the defense planners have upped the ante in an effort to entangle the minds of the young in the United States by the skillful use of social media tools to harness support for US military operations in Central Africa.”

This information consisted of the background to a panel discussion organised by Voice of Africa Radio in April 2012 on the then hot topic of Kony 2012.

Source: Voice of Africa Radio

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One response to “KONY 2012: Humanitarianism of Colonialism?

  1. Amnesty International does not support Kony 2012. We have been very critical of it. If you want to know more about our position, please contact me at tomturner@earthlink.net — Tom Turner, DRC Country Specialist, AmnestyInternational USA

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