The film KONY 2012 – which aims to make the leader of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) guerilla group, Joseph Kony, famous in order to raise support for his arrest – has been an instant viral success.

With over 78 million YouTube views, chances are you’ve watched KONY 2012 and it’s popping up all over your Facebook feed.

As Angelina Jolie puts it, Joseph Kony is an “extraordinarily horrible human being” who has committed terrible crimes against thousands of people, especially the 60,000 children he is said to have abducted.

And thanks to this film, millions of people now know something about Uganda and care about what is happening there.

But with the hundreds of thousands of #stopkony tweets comes criticisms.

There have been criticisms of the charity behind the film, which the charity’s CEO has responded too here. Many people say the film over simplifies a complex subject, or that it just doesn’t have its facts straight.

Ben Affleck, who has been travelling and working with charities in LRA territory in Northern Uganda and Congo since 2007, hasn’t criticized the film but has written an article about it where he says “Westerners are not and will never be the 'saviors' of Africa”.

The Ugandan blogger, Rosebell Kagumire, makes a similar point in this video and also highlights some of the other criticisms around. She basically says:

• The war is much more complex that just one man.
• The priority is post-conflict recovery right now.
• The film implies Africans are totally unable to help themselves and fails to acknowledge the work Ugandas have been doing to build peace in their country.

 

One things for sure, KONY 2012 has got millions of people talking and wanting to do something about child abduction and war crimes.

People who would never normally get involved in these issues. And it has shown what can be achieved when a small number of individuals put their mind to something.

The people behind KONY 2012 wanted to make Joseph Kony a celebrity. Now we’re all talking about the video, as is the news and probably governments. In that respect, it’s worked.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment and tell us what you think.

Our response: ActionAid has been working in Uganda since 1982 and we now work with over 200 partners supporting over 260,000 families. We believe arresting Joseph Kony would be a great step forward, but Kony and the LRA are one piece of the puzzle of injustice and poverty. Joseph Kony has not been in Uganda for six years. What’s more important now is the rebuilding of children’s lives in Northern Uganda. ActionAid staff in the area agree that conflict and challenges still exist but that this is rooted in poverty. What is really needed is investment in education, sanitation, health and livelihoods. The focus of our work is with ex combatants, particularly young women, to reintegrate them back into society. We also work to improve the lives of local families to tackle the cause of poverty which is the driver of local conflict. That’s about increasing educational opportunities, improving health care and investing in livelihoods. It’s incredibly important to work within a local context with local groups when it comes to such complex issues.