BORDERLESS WITH BROOKLYN: How to feel really good about yourself for 35 minutes-Kony2012

By: Brooklyn Middleton/Assistant Opinion Editor

Remember when it was cool to try to ‘save Darfur?’ Wait, where? It’s that place in Africa, the one that everyone wore the green bracelet for and felt better about our leaders not really doing anything to confront 21st century genocide. Shortly, we will experience a similar collective amnesia in regard to what Jezebel.com referred to as the “Meme Du Jour,” Kony2012.

By: Brooklyn Middleton / Assistant Opinion Editor

Brooklyn Middleton / Assistant Opinion Editor

The 30-minute video from Invisible Children, the organization that created the campaign to make Joseph Kony, Ugandan war monger and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, infamous, is heartbreaking.  But what is even more heartbreaking is the notion that people are donating crucial money to an organization that’s mission is at best short sighted and at worse completely ineffective.

Kony2012 experienced an incredible social media success; awareness has officially been raised.  “Change the world, watch this video!” was said by at least one person on your facebook feed, everywhere. Maybe you even have your action kit purchased on Kony2012’s website. Now what?

This type of pseudo activism is not just ineffective, it actually impedes progress from occurring. By directing our attention to this organization, we remain oblivious to other organizations that are actually cultivating real change.

It should be noted that this entire organization and the west’s response is aligned with the ideology that Africa has to be saved.  This is a falsehood, overall, and particularly untrue in regard to Kony.  Kony is a horrible person who has committed vile atrocities, this is absolutely true.  But putting him at the forefront of the entire issue oversimplifies an incredibly complex problem.

Furthermore, it’s really questionable of whether the catchphrase and intent of ‘making Kony infamous,” is truly the best tactic to take.  According to Aljazeera, the  LRA has not even operated in Uganda for at least five years.  Additionally, the video in Uganda has angered citizens.  The GlobalPost quoted Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary of Uganda’s Prime Minister, saying, “ Kony is of no consequence. He is a peripheral issue. It’s some of these people from outside who get excited over these things.” And we did get excited. But the problem is, when everyone gets excited and feels like they are doing something productive when in actuality they have accomplished nothing, a total failure ensues.

Indeed initiatives that address the systemic roots of war-torn Uganda and the child soldier epidemic that is rampant are much needed, but a western organization who supports military  intervention is not the authority on this. Kony might be dead, he is probably not in Uganda, and if “they”(who?) do capture and kill him, does the entire global issue of children soldiers cease to exist – no.  Now that Kony has been made infamous perhaps we can shift our support towards campaigns that more accurately reflect Ugandan politics and society.

The founder of Invisible Children himself has admitted people are probably confused about what the organization does and does not do. With only 37 percent of the overall budget going directly towards central African-related programs, the founder stated,  “We are not an aid organization, and we don’t intend to be. I think people think we’re over there delivering shoes or food. But we are an advocacy and awareness organization.”

Advocacy and awareness are important. But if the entire effort ends with everyone being aware, for 35 minutes or so and then going back to their lives, it is not just an insufficient cause but detrimental to organizations whose efforts continue on long after YouTube clicks off.

 

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