08 3 / 2012
I’m not alone in my criticism. Many others have shared their concerns, and I am pleased to see an explosion in the amount of ongoing discussion. A brief reading list for anyone who wants to understand what’s going on:
Joseph Kony and Crowdsourced Intervention - Jack McDonald, Kings of War - McDonald, of the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, writes about the challenges of cooperation between states in Central Africa, and about what role public opinion should have in conflict management and military affairs.
New addition: Solving War Crimes With Wristbands: The Arrogance of ‘Kony 2012’ – Kate Cronin-Furman & Amanda Taub, the Atlantic – Cronin-Furman and Taub are lawyers with expertise in international law and politics. They are critical of the KONY 2012 campaign’s focus on awareness, arguing that it may “displace specific solutions to these very complicated problems.”
Invisible Children founders posing with guns: an interview with the photographer – Elizabeth Flock, Washington Post – An interview with the woman who took the controversial photo of the founders of IC holding guns with the SPLA. Also quotes IC’s response to this photo.
Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (and other complicated things) – Michael Wilkerson, Foreign Policy – Wilkerson is a PhD candidate who has, importantly, lived and worked in Uganda. He’s concerned about the contents of the KONY 2012 film.
Stop #Kony2012. Invisible Children’s campaign of infamy – Angelo Opi-aiya Izama – Izama is a Ugandan journalist who says that to “call the campaign a misrepresentation is an understatement” and that the campaign is “disempowering” to African voices.
Kony2012; My response to Invisible Children’s campaign – Rosebell Kagumire – Kagumire is an award-winning Ugandan journalist and holds a Masters in Media, Peace and Conflict Studies from the University for Peace. In her video, she says: “The war is much more complex than one man called Joseph Kony.”
Joseph Kony 2012: growing outrage in Uganda over film – Mike Pflanz, The Telegraph – Pflanz sums up the Ugandan concerns about the campaign. He quotes Fred Opolot, spokesman for the Ugandan government, expressing the government’s concerns about the campaign.
Questions We Can Ask About Kony 2012 - Meg Nanson – I’m trying to keep my links to major publications, well-known journalists, and blogs written by those with expertise in the issues, but I feel that this is worth reading. Nanson is the founder of an NGO, and although her work is not linked to Africa, this post lists important questions that I’d encourage you to consider.
I’ll end with a long-ish quote from an interview Polly Curtis of the Guardian did with Arthur Larok, Action Aid’s director in Uganda:
"Many NGOs and the government, especially local government in the north, are about rebuilding and securing lives for children, in education, sanitation, health and livelihoods. International campaigning that doesn’t support this agenda is not so useful at this point. We have moved beyond that.
"There are conflicts in the north – several small conflicts over natural resources. Land is the major issue: after many years of displacement, there is quite a bit of land-related conflict.
"But many organisations and governments are focusing on this. We need to secure social stability, health and education. These are the priorities. This is what we’re trying to focus on. Poverty is high compared to the rest of the country. That’s the practical issue that needs to be addressed.
"I don’t think this is the best way. It might be an appeal that makes sense in America. But there are more fundamental challenges. Kony has been around for 25 years and over. I don’t think in the north at the moment that is really what is most important. It might be best on the internet and the like but, at the end of the day, there are more pressing things to deal with. If the Americans had wanted to arrest him, they would have done that a long time ago.
“At the moment I think the work of Invisible Children is about appealing to people’s emotions. I think that time has passed. Their reputation in the country is something that can be debatable. There is a strong argument generally about NGOs and their work in the north.
“The video would have been appealing in the last decade. Now we just need support for the recovery rather than all this international attention on this one point. Getting the facts right is most important for the international media. That would help the situation as it is.”
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