Kony2012; My response to Invisible Children’s campaign.

For the last many hours i have followed a campaign by Invisible Children NGO called KONY2012 that has gone viral getting more than 20 million hits on Youtube. I am a story teller and i know the danger of a single story  . It is something many people can easily ignore especially if we are outsiders to the story.

This is the video i recorded late in the night. It’s longer than i would have wanted but i just wanted to put my views out there on a conflict I have covered as a journalist and a people I have worked among as a communications officer at Isis-WICCE. I don’t in any way think I represent views of Uganda like some comments i have seen. This is me talking about the danger of portraying people with one single story and using old footage to cause hysteria when it could have been possible to get to DRC and other affected countries get a fresh perspective and also include other actors.


308 thoughts on “Kony2012; My response to Invisible Children’s campaign.

    1. Thanks so much for trying to shade light onto this issue. I agree with you that Kony is a murderer and in the same breath i disagree with you completely on both the analogy of the story and also the real effects of it. First of you cannot negotiate with a murderer, PERIOD. The atrocities that Kony has committed are so inhuman and thus should face the full extent of the law. We all know that the politicians especially in uganda have been using the Kony issue as a leverage to meet their political ends, the war has been going on for the last 2 decades. Museveni has been president for all this time, why hasn’t he ended it? I believe that Africans can solve African problems without the international community, but we DO NOT. Look at what happened in Kenya in ’07-’08. Were it not for the international community’s intervention, God knows what could have happened. Look at what is happening in Somalia!. When the international community or “Foreigners” shine light on the plight of our lives, doesn’t mean that they are shading light on the negative side of Africa! it would be better if you countered his video with yours showing what you are talking about- kids going to school and the decline in ” night commuters” as they are called. Asking for help doesn’t mean that we are weak or incapable. Its actually strength. Lets support the invincible children and let Kony be apprehended.

      1. I think like ANY criminal he should be arrested ALONG with any other criminal there.OR anywhere-I understand the President of Uganda is connect to major crimes against humanity-is this true? I do not support war.

  1. Thank you for posting this video. I am an American and I can’t claim to understand the complexity that is in many African nations, but I think that I do understand the mindset behind the Kony 2012 video. It’s very difficult to describe African conflicts in the way you have suggested in such a short time. I believe that it is why it was not included in the video, that the film’s purpose is merely to motivate the American public to seek more information about the conflict.

    You are right about local initiatives being key. Please continue to speak out in support of them, for they are key. And please continue lending your voice to this lesser-discussed side of the story.

    Thank you.

  2. Your response really has sent me thinking. I was one of those swept up by the Kony 2012 campaign when I first saw the movie. I wrote to my Senator, tweeted about the campaign, even sent money to Invisible Children. It wasn’t until the next day that I saw some of the negative feedback.

    You and many others point out that the movie is simplistic and provides a biased interpretation of the conflict. That, I can appreciate. But you also argue that the movie is campaigning for Western paternalism – that by participating in it people are pushing a hollow, somewhat arrogant “let’s save Africa” agenda. I have to take issue with that.

    At a fundamental level, Jason Russel was motivated by the plight of a child who lived in real fear of abduction. He created an organization to build schools. Perhaps his understanding or portrayal of events in Uganda is simplistic, but it seems to me that the motivations behind these acts are noble. Drawing attention to the acts of a war criminal seems like a positive contribution.

    I worried yesterday when I read a column stating that the Kony 2012 movement was “another example of the ‘white man’s burden'”. Does it matter whether the man doing the activism was from America, and that the region he’s focusing on is Africa? As long as people take the time to inform themselves on an issue, why shouldn’t good people band together to help others around the world?

    1. Wow Derek, you’re the man. Well said and I agree. Jason Russel has spent the better part of a decade trying to change the lives of those that had/have no voice and now many Ugandans are critical of him. His actions speak for themself. Bringing the world together for a cause like this can only be noble. Great job Derek!

      1. If a man is claiming to help Ugandans and Ugandans are critical of him, does it not follow that he is NOT helping them? Why do you believe Russel, a white American, when he says that he is helping Ugandans, but not the Ugandans when they say he is doing harm to them?

        That is why the “white man’s burden” is so evident here. He has taken on a cause with noble intentions, but noble intentions do not equal an informed, helpful approach. Raising awareness of the wrong issue and the wrong approach to fixing it can actually make the real problems in Uganda worse. And that is why it DOES matter that Russel is from America: he is claiming to speak for people who have already been speaking for themselves, and misrepresenting them. Just because Americans are suddenly aware today doesn’t mean that others weren’t aware before them. That sort of thinking is self-centered and self-important. There are people in Uganda already working on this issue and the effects of life after Kony (he hasn’t been there since 2008) and they don’t need uninformed military intrusion from people who feel better just because they’ve learned where Uganda is and learned what Kony was doing years ago. There are intelligent, thinking, empowered people in Uganda, just as there are in the U.S., only the Ugandans know much better what is going on in their lives and country than we do.

      2. yeah, both you Derek and Rosebell have good points. I’m neither Ugandan nor American. I’ve met 4 people from Uganda (2 of whom still live there) and 3 people of Ugandan descent. This thing has been going on for 26? years (my approx. age and the approx. age of some of the Ugandans whom I’ve met) and Jason’s campaign has been going on for 8? years (during which time I met the Ugandans). If it wasn’t for Kony2012 (which I have watched but I’ve heard all about it) I wouldn’t have known about the atrocities which it speaks of and I am a person who read various news websites (BBC, CNN, NPR, MSNBC, my country’s newspaper websites) everyday. Soo now I am aware. The best thing Jason and Rosebell can do is find a way to work with each other. Frankly, I don’t see how I can help this situation. I heard that the US gov. says it won’t help and I myself am very poor and not an American. I pray that God Himself will solve this situation.

      3. I assume I’m from a younger demographic than most of you who debate about this because I’m still and high school, and I’m very well aware of how little my peers are aware of this issue. Personally, I supported IC since 2004, and the video wouldn’t have gone viral if everyone was so aware of it. I don’t like it when people criticize it for being like every other “white man’s mission to be the hero” because the Kony 2012 campaign ISN’T exactly the same thing we’ve seen in history. How many examples can you name where social media has proliferated a cause to such proportions? None. So who has the authority to say that these efforts are fruitless? The Ugandan scholars and middle-, upper-class Africans? How come I’ve never heard of them making efforts the way that this man has.

        And to say that this hype is hysteria seems like a bad word choice. To me, hysteria would be based on fear that Kony is coming after us next, not the motivation millions of people (btw, how many of Kony 2012’s critics can do that?). I understand that it seems like the US is interfering with affairs that aren’t ours, but this is grassroots movement–the PEOPLE want this, not the government. We’re not in it for monetary value, on the other hand, we can’t help anyone without money. We can rip apart hundred of NGOs that ration more money toward their ads than their mission, but they’re still helping people. Kony 2012 just happens to be in today’s spotlight, but it’s not the only one. Critics have complained of the documentary’s choice to “make Kony famous” which is obviously made for ironic effect. This movie achieved its purpose to motivate people by keeping the story short. It wouldn’t have been so popular if it was 2 hours long. And I think the discussion that this video has opened up has even better consequences that it intended to make. No one would just look up a random woman’s response to the IC mission if there was no hype to begin with. This campaign has given people a louder voice on this topic, including the Ugandan children, which is definitely worthwhile.

      4. Who has the authority to say these efforts are fruitless? Perhaps those who look and fail to see any fruit. If you really believe that this isn’t a “White Man’s Burden” issue, then perhaps you need to measure the fruit in terms of how much difference it has made in the lives of the Ugandans and others affected (defined positively or negatively by them), instead of measuring the “fruit” by how many White people’s hearts were moved by a video.

    2. Well said Derek.

      I agree that it’s worrisome that people see the narrative as the “white saviors always having to save the black people”. I don’t disagree that some people following the Kony 2012 campaign fall into that category. However, in the same way that the narrative paints an unfair and untrue picture of Africans, it paints a similarly unfair picture of white people.

      Any critical analysis of American economic and/or military intervention in the world clearly shows that the primary American narrative is about “free people helping non-free people”. That is a human narrative, not a white American narrative. And as such It’s also a narrative worth repeating.

      Reducing everything to black/white racial issues is unhelpful. It artificially and negatively complicates the golden rule: “Treat others as you’d want to be treated… unless you’re white and the other person is black, then you have to be careful and acknowledge the intentions and capabilities of the black person in need, and the other black people already helping that person out.”

      I empathize with those saying “Do more than post Kony2012 on Facebook/Twitter.” At least that criticism isn’t racially motivated.

      I should be clear that from what I’ve read that Rosebell is great person doing great things in her sphere of influence, I just disagree with her criticism in this regard.

      1. Derek and xmartinj, I am on a similar page, though you two expressed the sentiment much more succinctly and effectively than I could have hoped to.

      2. Honestly, I do believe it matters where you come from and the types of action that is taken towards an issue like this. Too many time people come in with good intentions but have no idea of what barriers are placed around them. Good intentions can sometimes lead to greater problems. Honestly, I think the greatest power we have is to change our way of viewing Africa. Africa is not just a place of helpless, voiceless individuals, like Rosebell mentions.
        It’s so easy for us to take Rosebell’s criticism personally because we are Americans, but again she has a great point, we have a history of always wanting to play the role as the “good” guy.

    3. Kevina, as far as I know Rosebell is speaking from her own point of view, so who are all the people who claim that he is harming them? Besides, it seems to me that the measures adopted by local Governments have not been strong enough, since Kony is still wandering around Africa…this is maybe the best evidence to assert that they do need support! By the way, it is not really important whether Kony left Uganda or not; the main point here is, I think, that he is taking those children with him. From that point of view, this is not just a political issue; it’s also a moral concern, just as it’s a moral concern the problem of human rights in any other country. And moral problems do not have colours or nations; they are human in the first place.

    4. I liked hearing your view Rosebell and it made me think.

      But I don’t see anything wrong with someone standing up for something they feel passionate about. You or KONY 2012.

      I don’t believe the video is meant to take away power from the African people. I don’t think it is trying to make Africans look weak. The writer was just trying to do some good with the tools he has. I believe in that.

      This is not about the color of our skin. This is about people.

      I agree with previous writers,

      “I should be clear that from what I’ve read that Rosebell is great person doing great things in her sphere of influence, I just disagree with her criticism in this regard.”-xmartinj

      The more good voices there are the better.

      “At a fundamental level, Jason Russel was motivated by the plight of a child who lived in real fear of abduction. He created an organization to build schools. Perhaps his understanding or portrayal of events in Uganda is simplistic, but it seems to me that the motivations behind these acts are noble. Drawing attention to the acts of a war criminal seems like a positive contribution.”-Dereck

      Exactly how I feel. At least Jason is trying.

      I think he is just trying to gain interest in young crowds, the best way he knows how.

    5. Love your response Phan Le these people are too busy criticizing efforts that are already in motion to realize that their own lives are fruitless, what a waste of humanity.

      1. I would hardly refer to African’s who are working to improve their situation (through numerous means) as having “fruitless lives”, as you put it. That is so unbelieveably arrogant and rude. Just because it is an issue that is located in THEIR region, and just becasue they have a different way of approaching the problem does not mean that theior approach and their criticisms are wrong.

      2. I’m pretty sure chelsea was commenting on the American people who are criticizing the movement. I didn’t hear her say African…

  3. Thanks for speaking up against the jesusification of the American story. As Adichie observes: “So that is how you create a single story; show a people as one thing, as only one thing; over and over again, and that is what they become……It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power…..Stories are defined by power; how they are told, who tells them when they are told, who tells them and how many stories are told…Power is the ability to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person…

    Aluta continua!

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Some of these comments had started to make me lose my faith in human rationality.

  4. It seems that your main argument is one of pride. Your video makes it sound like you would take public perception of Uganda as capable and autonomous over an improved situation. I can’t believe that is really the case? I understand that you want to create your own narrative, but how is it a bad thing that people want to help? Sure, the help may be imperfect. It’s no magic bullet, but I don’t see how the arrest of a “bad guy” would be detrimental.

    Of course we agree that the “bad guy” term and the Kony 2012 video in its entirety are extremely simplified, but that is how you grab people’s attention in the first place. It’s not smart to inundate newcomers with many complexities or you will lose their attention. I’m confident that most of us realize Kony is not the only problem, but he is symbolic and his arrest would be a start. After watching your video, it seems that some small resolution would be a powerful asset to the conflict recovery process you speak of.

    With that said, you and other citizens of Uganda are obviously the experts, not me. What I know about daily life in Uganda basically amounts to nothing, and I don’t claim otherwise. I just don’t understand attempts to close the rest of the world out, when we are so clearly moving towards and global model.

    1. I hope you do get to Watch that video of Danger of a single story. We are not trying to close the rest of the world. God knows how long our story has been portrayed like that for centuries by both those who intend it and those who innocently fall into it but now we have access to social media and we hope you can learn our story from us. That you can have all perspectives is the greatest we can have. One never know what pride means until it’s stolen away even if it is in the simplest form. The issue is tell the real story if you claim to know us. Don’t portray a story of 2003 in 2012. All we want is honesty involvement in African problems and that the world accepts it when we view their effort differently. Intention good, how you go about it can affect the way we see those intentions. Thanks

      1. Thanks for responding, Rosebell. I do want to learn your story from you, and the story of everyone else from their own mouth. But, sometimes our own voices aren’t enough and it can be incredibly powerful when others join in to speak together. Although, I see that you are saying the right words are not being spoken. It just makes me scratch my head sometimes. What is a person to do? Ignore what is seen and hope that someone else can handle it? Or try to be an agent of change, at the risk of being…what? Considered paternalistic, somehow. It’s a difficult line to tow and hard to wrap your mind around the “right” course of action.

      2. hi rosebell,

        thank you for your video and zeroing in on the importance of having a voice. i agree with you that to recover from trauma, it has to come from within. it’s always a long, complicated and messy process that outsiders rarely understand. specifically in the case of children whose agency is taken away from them, part of their healing process is to regain their “voice” in their own way. the kony 2012 video, as a whole, suggests that somehow military intervention will end the problems of these children. it is reductive and makes your people look helpless without presenting a more diverse solution to the problem. i look forward to more of your opinions on the topic. thanks again.

      3. Kristin,
        The issue of paternalism is a complex one that is hard to grasp, frankly, unless you are from a community that is frequently the subject of such unconscious condescension. As someone from such a community, I can tell you that for me the frustration comes with seeing the suffering of my home country — mostly caused due the imperialism of the same countries now trying to swoop in and save it, mind you — being at once reduced to a ‘share’ button and expanded to encompass the entirety of my rich and complex roots. The matter becomes worse when those naive activists do so with the attitude of ‘making up for the wrongs of the past’; it takes the issue at hand and makes it about clearing the supposed savior’s conscience, once again taking the affected communities away from the center. What has to actually happen is for the activist to be minimally present, but for the activist *voice* to be irrelevant.

        In this country we are taught from a young age to do *something* when we see pain, and are often praised when seen doing so. This mindset has expanded to the international level; a level where, unfortunately, doing the wrong “something” can make things worse than they would have been if left in the hands of those experiencing the pain. Think Iraq and Afghanistan if you want recent examples, or look at the general history of Western imperialism — the concept of the Western savior, whether in a spiritual or physical sense, is always present. It’s a tough concept to articulate, but here is a video that gets at it a little bit:

        Ultimately, the best thing that you, as a privileged person who cares, can do right now is educate yourself. Read about the issue from both sides, including the issues of paternalism and the silencing of native voices. It will be an uncomfortable experience, and you may find yourself outright denying much of what you find — but remember that you have only known one side. Those from the affected communities who have grown up here have heard both the activist savior rhetoric and felt the pain at home, and while there may be some in this group who feel differently, the majority will have validly felt patronized by such campaigns and their supporters at at least one point. It may be tempting to find one Ugandan who disagrees with Rosebell and declare vindication, but it is never that simple; I myself didn’t see my community’s subjugation until recently. Remember that these voices, both here and abroad, have been the subject of both intentional and unintentional Western manipulation for far too long.

    2. Invisible Children doesn’t really include the voices of Ugandans in it’s campaigns… but rather imposes what it thinks is the best way for Africans. That is why IC is getting smeared with terms like “neo-colonialism”, especially when it is misrepresenting the situation. It’s not bad that they care, but they need to be more sensitive to the complexity of the situation.

    3. Neither American nor Ugandan here Kristin. I read both your comments to Rosebell. You both have good points. I heard that Jason has been working on this issue for 8 years. Since he’s been working on it for so long, I assume he knows how Ugandans like Rosebell feel about his portrayal of the Ugandan situation (don’t even know what to call it). As a person from a poor country myself (not an African country), I would be offended if you or Jason presented an issue that I’ve been working on in my country for years in a simplistic and inaccurate manner.

      You make a good point about our own voices not being enough. Yeah, then the person with the bigger voice has more responsibility to ensure they have the facts and the narrative straight. What is a person to do? You can do a lot in 8 years (the time it took to put together this campaign). I graduated from high school, got a BA and an MPH in 8 years. You can reach out to others who have the same cause in 8 years, to make sure you get the story right. As an MPH who took international health classes (and completed the degree in 1.5 years) I can tell you that we learn about how to accurately present global issues in the country where the issue takes place and abroad. You don’t go in and try to do your own thing. If you don’t work closely with the nationals, making them take the lead, your campaign will not be effective. There is a way to present complex information to the public in simple ways without losing the truth. It’s not a difficult line to tow when you have 8 years to get it right. Back to the point though:

      I don’t see how I can help the situation. Kristin, what are you going to do about it?

      1. I wish I could also call you by name, but unfortunately I only have “commenter” to go by. Sorry, then, for the subsequent impersonal nature of my reply!

        Thank you for the insight on the way your international health graduate classes taught you to address global concerns. You make a good point – if this is the result of 8 years worth of education, research and relationship building, the story shared and the voices represented should be developed well. Though you say 8 years is such a long time, I am inclined to take that with a grain of salt in that many conflicts throughout the world both currently and in history have taken significantly longer than 8 years to resolve, relationships have taken longer than 8 years to build, messages have needed for than 8 years to be given right. Not an excuse, just an observation.

        What am I going to do about it? I am not sure at all. At all. That I don’t know what is the best course of action from this point on has been made painfully obvious through the information and opinions that have been brought to the conversation within the past few days. I feel a complete disconnect from the ‘power to change history’ idea that was presented in the IC’s Kony video – in fact, I feel neutered of any ability to do anything, at least anything positive. More than that, I am acutely aware of the potential dissatisfaction with (and frankly in some circles, backlash that comes with) any statement I make on the issue(s) addressed in the video or on the continent as a whole.

        So for now, the best I can and will do, is continue learning about the real history of the issue brought of the in video, of the current state of affairs, of the potential sinister motives of all parties involved, on. and on. I will visit the blogs of Ugandans, citizens of the DRC and other areas with people who have their own story to tell and see what I can see.

        After that?

        I suspect nothing, other than remember what I’ve learned, lest I do wrong by the people who have to live it.


    4. exactly, kristin. they had to simplify. kind of like how Olympic swimmers shave everything and wear caps. less means speed. a complex narrative on all the facets was not going to accomplish the visibility. i respect people like rosebell who have more information and opinions, but what are you doing? trying to calm people down? faith is enthusiasm – feeling like you support a noble cause – this is a good feeling. why evoke doubt in people who have been sitting in their cubicle all day? what is the point of raising questions and not just supporting something that absolutely should happen? only to prove that you know and to put your information about there – but guess what??? this is not about anybody, their ego, the fact that a 27 min doesn’t make experts on African politics – it’s about those little babies who are ripped out and abducted and forced out of their childhood. it’s about everybody feeling like in all the world’s uncertainty there is ONE thing that we can do and that is “get a bad guy” – it’s the human condition personified and i wish people would just chill on the scrutiny because it is 100% unnecessary.


      1. That may be true. Either way, thanks for the eloquent reply. It really helps me understand your point…?

      1. Jared, that was certainly not my intended use of the term global. I can see how the “double speak” you mentioned could be the case, though. Not sure if we’re thinking of it in the same way (I consider this very method of discourse to be an example of the “global” mentioned).

  5. Thank you for posting your video. It is really beneficial to acquire as many facts as possible before making judgement. Kony does need to be captured along with all the other people involved as I am sure he is not alone in his choices of how to treat other humans.
    Thank you again.

  6. Although I can appreciate your concern about the outsider acting as savior, I wonder how long those who do not have a voice should wait while those who do compose their story. Since the war reaches beyond the boarders of the Republic of Uganda, perhaps, it is no longer the story of one nation, but of many nations. But even in Uganda– how hopeful can we be that change will come from within, when the government seems wholly uninterested in evening keeping track of the size or the whereabouts of the LRA? In the quest to keep the story restricted to only those who live within the boundaries of Uganda, you seem to overlook that Mr. Kony has been indicted by the International Crimes Court on several counts of Crimes Against Humanity, that his campaign of terror extends beyond the borders of Uganda, and that an international warrant has been issued for his arrest. Humbly, the issue is bigger than one’s county’s ability to compose a story. The issues involve man’s inhumanity to man. Join the cause for a better tomorrow, for your people, for my people, and for the world’s people.

    1. i believe it is outsider using people for money…it is a new growth area in the business model …activist/marketing/sacred charity…since the worshipping the 1% is out of fashion…profit off good hearts and good intentions works better these days…those 3 ‘men’ in the photo with guns don’t have an once of humanity and look very off…

    2. I think this is well said. Some things do demand attention and action, even if that comes in an imperfect form.

    3. Thank you Ima, your words shed light on the fact that Rosebell’s pride has blinded her to see that just because she is Ugandan, this situation does not soely concern her, this is a HUANITARIAN ISSUE and therefore, HUMANE individuals are working toward a better situation. And I would LOVE to know from Rosebell, PLEASE TELL ME ROSEBELL, what is YOUR personal experience reguarding this issue? Have the atrocities at hand touched your life? Have you layed awake at night in fear? If not, what right do you uave to claim this as your own and put down those who have seen it up close and MADE it personal for them?????

      1. Chelsea, I could ask the same questions of you. While you certainly have the right to disagree with Rosebell, it’s quite condescending that you simply assume this is an issue of pride. As for Rosebell’s personal experience regarding the issue of Joseph Kony, I don’t know exactly what she’s done, but looking through this blog, I see that she writes about women’s issues in Uganda and has been featured on many Ugandan news channels. Now, tell me, what have YOU done to help the people victimized by the LRA, and what right do you have to dismiss someone who has worked hard to improve the lives of Ugandans?

  7. My fellow Ugandans, we need to stop being victims and start being victors. We need to deal with our own problems. Its clear that our friends around the world are doing what they can to help and want to keep helping but what have we done to help ourselves besides criticize the help and support we are getting? If you don’t want someone else telling your story, then get up and speak.

    1. Ugandans have been doing a lot of work in the north. Personally i have worked there and many Acholi people do good work on the ground. i am compiling a list of great organizations that are worth support which have made real changes.

      1. I know there are, i have no doubt but we as a nation need to do more. I curated a photo exhibition about the peace, development and transition that has taken place in Northern Uganda and it opened my eyes to alot of things about the region. I think we need to stop dwelling on the past, pick up the pieces and move on. We need to support our brothers and sisters in the north and help them rebuild their region thus building our nation.

      2. I would be really interested in this so that I have somewhere to point people. At the moment I only know the Grassroots Group.

      3. A group that I have been particularly impressed with is the Concerned Parents Association.

  8. As an American who lived in Uganda for 3 months, I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to realize how little I knew about a conflict that I’d read countless books and articles on. It is integral that the loudest voice comes from those who have the cultural and historical understanding, and I really appreciate you pointing out, so clearly and concisely, how complicated this conflict really is.

  9. Thank you so much for posting this video. Your voice is one everyone needs to hear. As a global citizen, and especially as a teacher, I’m very concerned about the impact of this video in ‘the west’.

  10. thank you i have posted your page…and hope other s will share it too…
    these folks are just using folks for money and it is horrible…

  11. I used to be a studet ambassador, but I never ventured to Africa. Despite that, of all the countries I traveled to, one thing is certain, many of these countries have vastly complex issues that cannot be solved by America policing them.
    When I saw this video, it was one of so many I have seen. And truth is, this is somethig we should offer to help with but not get enraged about. As an American I feel like we need to focus on our own problems. Many Americans are much more ignorant to their own issues within their country.
    Africa is a strong country and the constant portrayal of it needing saved…It must be frustrating.

  12. Thank you! I believe your voice should be heard over that of any American voice on the situation- please continue speaking and posting—

  13. I’m so glad to see well founded responses such as your, as I’ve been incredibly frustrated and concerned since i first saw the video. I’m an American that worked a nuber of years in a journalistic capacity throughout eastern and central africa. The last time I did work in Gulu and its surrounding region was in 2010 (not at all the gull of 2006), and I think your insistence to drive home the fact that this began as a struggle for resources — in a region which is both geographically isolated, as well as being wedged between a long contentious border with South Sudan where there was political engagement in keeping the region destabilized — play greatly into the matter. In slight defense of the video (or at least my assumptions as to its principal aim) is that rather than explaining the complexities and overwhelming the enormity of the task by involving at least four countries (uganda, south sudan, dec and central af. rep.), they likely decided to use the success of the invisible children documentary (in uganda) as a primer for the “big picture” (which for them is Kony). I also suspect that they have no newer footage, and also risk losing donor-ship to their project which is still very active in rebuilding and educating the communities in the north if they were to show Gulu today. As to the matter of if Kony is really the BIG issue, i suspect too that the group sees the community focused capture of Kony as a needed revitalization of the worlds (and east africas) confidence in the potential for the ICC (which has like most international bodies been a dire sore which has no authority to fulfill its promises in the face of governments who work together to protect or coverup wanted accomplices, as has been seen in kenya). And I can’tt say that after the momentum of the arab spring, i wouldn’t like to see the ICC becoming more effective and more cooperated with. That being said, i feel very uncomfortable with the manner in which the film sought to further misgivings and miseducations (a propos the current realities in uganda, and the all abstract “africa” today generally). The emotional manipulations of using his son to highlight some point that if “even a child sees the problem, why don’t we” not only speaks down to the governments of africa to intelligently and autonomously find solutions, as any state does, but also it demeans the american people and wedges them into some cliché of being ignorant to an issue (which i doubt many people didn’t know about this) because of privilege, not because of cultural miseducations and manipulations by our own government which uses similar tactics as in this video to manipulate overly simplified dramas to explain complex issues facing all of us in the world today. The fact is, the US government is not involved for Uganda’s sake at this point, but to possibly give new breath the the ICC (which is a great idea that hasn’t worked). Anyhow thank you for your extremely sensible and effective counter-narrative to the video.

  14. I appreciate your heartfelt passion and can understand your skepticism regarding the IC campaign, but I honestly think you are doing your cause a disservice by trying to derail this effort.  Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  Even the best ideas are doomed to the dustbin of history if there is no political will to put those ideas into motion.  And you don’t garner political will by trying to educate the public about the intricacies of Central African geo-political history.  Politics is a blunt instrument.  To be effective, the most complicated issues need to be boiled down to simple (even simplistic) terms in order to capture people’s passions (“Yes we can!” “We shall overcome!”).  This is what “KONY 2012” can accomplish.  Yes, it is naive. Yes, it is short-sighted.  But it has the potential to create the worldwide political groundswell that is needed in order to allow the smart people on the ground there to bring all sides back to the negotiating table. Without it, people like you will continue to work tirelessly, but anonymously, in the bush to try effectuate a peace that will only continue to elude you.  My sincerest good wishes to you and your cause, and greetings on behalf of many concerned citizens in the United States. 

    1. I completely agree with DCDUDE

      I think the bigger picture for everyone is what to do now, regardless of which side of the fence you sit on. I don’t know that the argument could be made that this has not been one of the most significant awareness campaigns in the history of the world, no matter if it is flawed or not. Should we just let it fizzle away because there is criticism of how its being run/delivered? I think that more focus needs to be put on this campaign, to make sure that its not all bs. There sure are enough people blasting it, that we could come up with some better ideas. Why not try to use the momentum of this campaign to do it the right way, so that the world can come together to discuss this issue to help solve it in a way that works WITH Uganda. I want to believe that as a society, we can come together when we feel injustice has been done on a scale like this. That is a world I hope we can become.

      Regardless of the campaign itself, there has been a monumental shift in the awareness on the planet. For the first time globally we have seen the world come together with a united voice to discuss this issue.

      I’ll leave you with this quote.

      “The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” -Theodore Rooseve

  15. I want to say thank you for your work and dedication and most importantly the refocus on what social media can change or manipulate. While I listened to your response, I was particularly struck by your comment about “get people to cry about it at the end of the day, and then it’s forgotten.” While I consider myself a mindful human being about world issues, and how there are those who suffer greater than me, you definitely put me on check to be more vigilant so to speak and to be more active. My question is about charities based in the U.S. I have donated to ActionAid USA which seems to be a very reputable charity for violently oppressed and poverty stricken regions of the world (specializing in food production). I want to do what I can to help with my fellow human being. Is ActionAid USA a reliable charity? Bless you! –Javier

  16. They want to catch a bad man, don’t make there cause into something else, every critic of this video says similar things, that they didn’t throw every issue into the mixer when they made a purposeful objective. Well realistically they can’t, you know that based on your own video, but saying that there are more issues and those never being brought to light doesn’t make someone finally bringing one of those issues to the public interest somehow moot. I agree that the video doesn’t tell all but its only 30 minutes and it gives you a jumping off point for research into the topic, which is definitely warranted. I agree its a complex issue, but you won’t make it any less complex by ignoring the various facets individually.

  17. Invisible Children inc is a scam. Their Campaign project kony 2012 is a scam too. Many Ugandans are very upset at how Invisible Children inc has been using the Joseph Kony Saga to cause sensationalism, so as to create a way for them to collect more money in donations and enrich themselves.

    The more money they collect, the more these Invisible Children executives pay themselves hefty bonuses. Base salary for Invisible Children exec is about $85,0000. When allowances and bonuses are added these guys make over $160,000 a year. Just Think that this money donated that they lavish themselves with is collected in the name of protecting the poor war children in Uganda.

    For the last 3 years less than 10% of funds collected by Invisible Children is sent to the Ground in Uganda to help the Ugandan Children for which Invisible Children are capitalizing their campaign. Previous to that, only 32% of the money they collected was sent to Uganda to help the Ugandan People. A survey of all projects and activity on the Ground in Uganda to help the Uganda Children does not even total up to $1.5 Million of the $13 Million they have collected

    Now they have created this Kony2012 campaign to collect fundraising to help catch Joseph Kony? How is this going to help the Poor people in Uganda and central Africa? Considering the LRA war ended over 3 years ago. How is the Money collected going to be used help catch Joseph Kony? The Americans have sent 100 combat marines to central africa These Marines are co-coordinating their efforts with the armies of Uganda, Congo, South Sudan, Central African Republic in an effort to Catch Kony.

    Beside Joseph Kony is rumored to be dead already. There has not been a siteing of Joseph Kony for the last Two years since operation Thunder Loghting into Congo by Ugandan troops. Beside the viral Video of kony2012 contains recycled materials that are accurate six years ago. The information in the video is untrue and completely out dated.

    The Video does not focus on helping Ugandan children but rather on showcasing the media skills of the video maker. If you want to participate in a forum discussion on this topic you can
    check out http://www.kony2012-is-a-scam…. Invisible Children is a scam

  18. Rosebell, I was wondering which Charities in Uganda you think would be better served to recieve funds from people that want to help some. I’ve been telling all my sheeple friends to not give any money to Invisible Children. I’d like to steer them in the right direction. Thank you.

  19. I would like to say that Eva Baguma is right. You have FRIENDS around the world. I know I cannot speak for everyone, but I am inclined to believe that for the most part, we are not trying to be “White Messiahs” and this is not about “American goodness” as Drew Ddembe suggested. We are friends and we want to help. I don’t understand why there has to be such a negative reaction to the KONY 2012 video.

    When there is a problem, criticizing the people who are trying to help you is not going to help at all. Stop being a victim and start being a victor as Eva says! It sounds like we can all agree that Kony needs to be stopped ALONG with building schools etc etc. so lets try to work together. I think it would be really interesting if you were to contact this guy who made the video, expressed your concerns directly to him and maybe even worked together creating a documentary to tell the whole story. Others were right when they said the story had to be simplified to hold our short American attention spans (and this video was made to target Americans after all), but now you’ve got people interested and I would personally be very interested in seeing a documentary or some such thing telling the whole story from more points of views. This is just a film of what one man saw and a promise that he made to a friend to do everything in his power to stop Kony.

    I do have my own battles to fight, but I would like to be able to help with this cause. The fact that he has left Uganda only illustrates the fact further that Kony’s army is not simply a Ugandan problem and nobody else’s business. This is a human problem and people, believe it or not actually want to help.

    And now to cheer everyone up, here’s a reminder that simple joy and beauty exists in the world.

    1. Thanks Melissa, sorry its taken me a while to respond but i hope that people’s minds, eyes and hearts have been opened by this story and that we can all finally do something about it……together.

  20. I agree fully with the previous posters, Derek and Kristin. I think the motivation behind Kony2012 is valid and legitimate.
    (Personally, I don’t need a story about Jason’s son to grab my attention, but if 20 million+ other people do, who am I to take issue with the form that the message took?)

    It is of secondary importance that Invisible Children is not totally transparent, or spends too much money on travel and video-making. Thanks to what they have done, many millions of people now know about a situation which is real and ongoing (despite the spin that Rosebell puts on it – just see lracrisistracker.com to confirm this.) That can only be a good thing.

    Unfortunately for the genuinely dispossessed and vulnerable people of the affected region in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic (which is where most of the current killings and abductions are taking place), educated and knowledgeable Africans such as Rosebell are focussing on the fact that:

    a) Jason Russell is white (and therefore thinks he’s some kind of American Jesus figure)
    This is not helpful. He’s a human, flawed like the rest of us, but clearly trying to help. This is not a racial issue.

    b) Westerners don’t know the whole story of African nations like Uganda. That can’t be helped – we’re not Africans! But it doesn’t mean we are not concerned and cannot help.

    c) Supposedly the story is “out of date”, because it talks about Uganda in 2003. Again, not helpful. The situation _is_ current and ongoing, with 1000 killed and over 2200 abducted since December 2009 – largely in northern DRC and southern CAR. (see lracrisistracker.com) This isn’t just about Uganda.

    As commenter “kristin” points out below, and is essentially confirmed by Rosebell’s response, African objections to the Kony2012 initiative seem to be based on pride. What a terrible irony that an effort such as Kony2012 be undermined by Africans who feel that their ego has been dented! For goodness’ sake, Jason Russell might be a relatively ignorant Westerner, he might even have a Messiah complex, his organisation might not be totally transparent, but get over yourself and get some perspective, Rosebell! He’s trying to help!

    Rosebell, you have a very big voice in this issue, as a Ugandan journalist with interest in the issue, and are being quoted by world media on the subject. Please recognise that what you say carries weight – more than you probably realise. If you are not accepting of Western initiatives such as this, it sends a message to the West that our concern lacks legitimacy. Which I do not believe is the case.

    Your specific complaints:
    – the oversimplification of the story
    – the portrayal of regional African actors as helpless in resolving the situation

    Unfortunately, Invisible Children _has_ to oversimplify the story to get 20 million Westerners with short attention spans to actually learn _anything_ at all. There is no way that people like Rihanna and her fanbase are _ever_ going to know about the subtleties and nuances of African society and the troubled history of the central African region. This is never going to happen! (A shame, I know.) But at least now, those same Westerners, know that there is a perverted sadist in the region called Kony who has been killing, raping and enslaving vulnerable civilians for many years – which is an incontrovertible truth. Can you not admit that is a good thing? Is that not more important than the inevitable loss of pride that responsible, good people such as yourself will suffer, when they realise that a slightly corny 30-minute Youtube video has massively raised global awareness of the subject?

    Regarding helplessness – I think even you should admit that previous efforts have still allowed Kony to act with impunity. Regional NGOs have done good work, and continue to do so, but more help is needed. Ugandan and Congolese military forces have a very bad record (even compared to other militaries) when it comes to humanitarian crises, often exacerbating the situation. (My heart goes out to especially the women and children of central Africa who have been subjected to arguably some of the worst human experiences ever reported, often at the hands of military forces.)

    This is a global and interconnected age that we live in today. Please, as a responsible and educated African, be accepting of Western efforts, however simplistic, to aid the vulnerable in a part of this world that we all share.

    (note: I am a British man who has travelled extensively in Africa, and have only respect for the dignity and warmth of so many typical Africans that I have met. Especially the women, who I believe are among the strongest and bravest people I have ever known. Further note: there are many more Westerners who share my viewpoint)

  21. Incredibly articulate and insightful. Thank you for your comments. Rarely do we see global or political issues that are one dimensional, good v. evil, black and white, etc. While it is good the video brought up this issue to a larger audience, it is imperative its followers then take the time to think about the policy being advocated in the video. My concerns were aptly addressed in your response. Again, thank you.

  22. Rosebell, thank for for sharing your thoughts and insight. Clearly you have a lot of good to share with the world. If it wasn’t for the Kony2012, I would not have hear your voice. Why not put aside for a moment the “them vs. us” talk and instead grab the opportunity to harness this unprecedented media spotlight on the issue, not only of Uganda or even Kony, but of children being used in military conflict? The Kony2012 video might have only opened the conversation, and the creators might have over-simplified, got things wrong and been naive. But this is your opportunity to use the moment to to take the next step, to create something great, to enlighten us. Wishing you a happy international Women’s Day!

  23. Thank you so much for posting your video and response. I’ve linked to it on facebook and it’s being shared by friends. I learned more in your six minute video than I did the whole of the 30 minutes of the ‘invisible children’ viral video. Thank you!!

  24. Rosbell, thank you for sharing the other side of the story that focuses on empowering people living day-to-day with the issues faced by the people in Uganda. Please keep talking and sharing. I will continue room listen, share and help in any way I can.

  25. I have to agree with Kristen we are not trying to make the war just about Joseph Kony or tell your story they are just trying to bring to light the issues that need to be addressed. The gentleman in the video has also seen some of the problems first hand, now I’m not saying he has lived through it but he is trying to make it a world issue that children are being harmed in this way for someone else to gain power. If this were my child I would be outraged and want help from anyone that was willing to. I also don’t think they are trying to shorten your story but keeping in mind that in some place like America there are so many distractions and our own issues going on that they want to make sure people take time to watch a short video. The people who really care are going to take time to research and find out all the information they can, like myself. It saddens me that your not excepting the help that is being given to you. The story may have changed from 2003 to 2012 but the help is still needed, is it not?

  26. So what I’m gathering is that because he used old footage and didn’t tell the story from your perspective, then its no good? Regardless of who’s perspective it was from, the facts are still true, Kong’s a bad guy and needs to be stopped. Who are we to decide who gets to help and how? Could the film have been more current? Sure. But he showed a clip from 2003 to show what Kony had done to his friend Jacob. Could he have told it from.a different perspective? Sure. But he told it from the perspective of Someone in utter shock at what they have heard and witnessed and that is what’s going to get through to anyone who doesn’t live in Uganda. And its not just whites helping. I believe in the cause and I’m black. All Russel is trying to do is fufill a promise, raise awareness, and lend a hand to his fellow man. Shouldn’t we all try to do that?

  27. I know i already tweeted this and commented on the video, but i wanted to reiterate how much i appreciate your views and measured insight into this complicated picture! Your eloquence and poise in articulating your frustration are beautiful and, as a former NGO volunteer in Uganda, i deeply connected with all you said. Thanks for being awesome!

  28. Thanks a lot for the video and I understand that the KONY 2012 video simplifies the story of millions of people in Northern Uganda and other places in Africa. But if the story/purpose/idea was told in a complex and detailed way then it wouldn’t have made an impact or difference or gotten people attention. Such complexity would have scared a lot of people off.

    After watching the KONY 2012, I researched a lot. About the IC and the Ugandan history, and it is really complex. But the simple truth is that we, millions of people around the world, were oblivious to such crimes. And all this gets lost in the million and one problems around the world. And we really did not care.

    And the video it does say that KONY is not longer in Uganda but has moved into other countries. And if you watch other videos of IC it also talks about the situation improving and how the Night Commute has ended. And how they have also addressed what needs to be done with education, scholarships, and rehabilitation centre.

    And KONY 2012 is about KONY. It is not about solving each and every problem in Uganda and Africa. That is for you guys to step in and do it. It’s doing what it can in its own capacity and others do what they can in their own capacity!

    And it’s not about “outsiders” and being a “hero”. It’s about being a human and having the capacity to love not just the first year of going in Uganda but over 8 years of hardwork. They did not forget the people they met and have been trying to make a difference and are doing that till now. They have had other videos but none of the, had more than 100 views until this one. It’s not like they suddenly burst into scene with a story to make people cry.

    Also Americans or other nationalities can’t just go up to another Government and demand or put political pressure on them to change policies regarding these things. What they can and did was to go up to their own government to create/start a dialogue between the two countries.

    And about Africa being hopeless, please watch other videos like on Tony. It talks about how to give a future to the kids is to make they independent and educated and. And IC team realised that after Jolly tells them. And believe me when I tell you that they believe that you and all those kids have the power to change what is going on.

    Because of this one “over-simplified” viral video, all these other stories are coming out including yours. And people around the world want to hear about it.

    IC has over 200 videos they have made and this one massive viral shares only a bit of all the work they have been doing the last few years. I watched a lot of them and never thought that you guys were powerless, in fact just the opposite.

    It’s not about local initiatives vs non-local ones, but about a collective effort because we are all connected now and can’t ignore each other. Now that it has done its job to create “awareness”, others can no longer ignore it. An issue that was low on international and maybe national priority is being given a new push. And stories that we ignored can no longer be.

    So keep on sharing but also remember that no one think you guys are helpless.

  29. Child soldier catastrophe for many years now, and it has been frustrating trying to raise awareness. Now, awareness has been raised on a huge scale — by this video! and gotten people’s attention, not just in the USA, but globally. Others who have been working tirelessly on this issue and their publicising approaches have not been effective as powerful as this. The film may not be perfect but, suddenly, the world is AWARE of the problem and perhaps, now, something can be done to bring this evil and heartbreaking situation to an end. Don’t shoot the messenger! Also was just wondering if these guys were not “white” but of another race, would they receive this much of criticism! Why didn’t anyone else commit time, effort, money and energy into such a thing! It’s not about some “white” guys trying to be a hero, but rather some humans being humane in this insanely inhumane world. And maybe we have all become so cynical that we can’t just accept something that has real heart in it!

    1. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think that the video would have been as impactful to its primary audience if he were not white or living in a first world country, because the whole first portion of the video is making the point about why all children should be valued in the same way, and trying to break down the emotional barrier that exists in rich countries between our own children, whom we lavish money on, and underprivileged kids we see on the occasional news spot or TV ad. Despite the prevalent accusations of white imperialism, I think the IC video is explicitly trying to break racial and class barriers to remind people that these victimized children are just as worthy as every other child. I think that the emotional connection of the video is based on the speculation of “imagine if this had happened here”. Frankly, for most Americans, that level of instability is unfathomable. I believe that the efforts to get the U.S. government involved stem directly from the belief that the U.S. government would swiftly and decisively eliminate any such threat on its own soil, and therefor a belief that it could do the same elsewhere. Yes, that belief is rather naïve, and I do agree that it has a lot to do with the colonialist or imperialist belief of “we got it right, and we must show others the way”. When it comes to ideas like “These people don’t have china and silver; we must lift them out of poverty!”, this is is entirely misplaced, but when it comes to stopping murder and mutilation, and things like access to clean water, the morality of this view is murkier. Ideally, implementation on the ground in any such situation (in this case in Uganda, DRC, CAR and South Sudan) would be led by those with real understanding of the situation and how to improve it — that is, local people with the will and knowledge to make a difference — and the more privileged or more stable nation would simply provide assistance as needed. Obviously, the American and European track record on that front leaves a lot to be desired, as our policies have often not really accounted for all of their impacts.

      What I do find inspiring about the IC campaign is the idea that we can actively sway public opinion, and we can get actual results from our government based on that public opinion, including on issues that have no bearing on the security or economic interest of the country. It’s inspiring that people half a world away can now talk about not only sending money to a charity, but also getting their government to provide military aid and training or other types of aid that can only be provided by a government, if that is the kind of help that people in the area want and need. I remember back in 2000 or 2001, when my roommates were working with Amnesty International to try to combat the use of child soldiers. From what I have seen, this video has a much larger outpouring of support. If social media is now allowing us to reframe public focus and opinion, as this video seems to have done, I hope we can use it as a tool to better the political situation and political decisions in countries around the world.

      1. I should also mention that I understand that military aid is also not simple based on the history of military regimes in some of the affected areas. I do not know what to think of the role of oil in the whole situation, but I can only hope that the outcome will be positive through increases in stability and development of infrastructure.

  30. Thanks so much for your insight! If I may ask do you consider western military intervention to be a good or bad solution to Africa’s internal conflicts?

  31. People like sensation; otherwise you won’t get the attention that you need. Trust me, people in America are already absorbed in their own lives and their own problems; sensation works. If you don’t want the attention of Americans then okay, go fix your own problems. I don’t understand what the problem is. Uganda is getting publicity that it probably won’t get otherwise. And of course, all wars are complicated; it’s not as simple as one may hope it to be. The point of Kony 2012, is bringing awareness to the American people and not letting the severity of issues in other countries to wane and be forgotten. And there is nothing wrong with that. If you don’t want help or people who are putting themselves out there to help you then so be it. I’m personally not going to beg to help those who don’t want to receive it. I think that we should all be thankful that people care and we shouldn’t be so critical of other people’s compassion, empathy, or desire to make a difference.

    I understand your perspective but I feel like a lot of the critical voices regarding the campaign is nitpicking on minor things and we’re forgetting about the overall picture here which is to eliminate and bring awareness to needless violence and injustice not just to people in Uganda but elsewhere as well.

  32. I appreciate your insight about KONY2012. I read that:

    “…the charity that made this video has some terrible ideas. They support militarizing this whole region of Africa and allowing the Ugandan army to chase Kony across the region. Effectively, they want Uganda to invade the Democratic Republic of Congo. Last time this happened under the guise of “chasing the LRA”, 6 million people died. Kony’s an awful guy, but he pales in comparison to pretty much the rest of Africa. In particular Musevini, the 20+ year “president” of Uganda.”

    I would very much appreciate your thoughts on these comments.

  33. I have been supporting Invisible Children for five years now. Perhaps you need to be more inform about what this organization has been doing for 9 years . They didn’t just happen to create a video to make people, this is their response about the Oversimplification of a complex issue in the video.

    KONY 2012 portrays, in no uncertain terms, the image of a madman who manipulates children spiritually for his own tactical gains. In our quest to garner wide public support of nuanced policy, Invisible Children has sought to explain the conflict in an easily understandable format, focusing on the core attributes of LRA leadership that infringe upon the most basic of human rights. In a 30-minute film, however, many nuances of the 26-year conflict are admittedly lost or overlooked. The film is a first entry point to this conflict for many, and the organization provides several ways for our supporters to go deeper in learning about the make-up of the LRA and the history of the conflict. Likewise, our work on the ground continually adapts to the changing complexities of the conflict.

    These is SOME of the work they have been doing.

    As abductions continue throughout Central Africa, Invisible Children is partnering with renowned LRA-trauma specialist, Els de Temmerman, and the leadership of CDJP-Dungu, to establish the first trauma-focused rehabilitation program in the LRA-affected regions of northeastern Congo. Invisible Children, using its construction expertise from our education programs in Uganda, built the center with local labor and largely local materials. The center, located in Dungu, is locally managed and provides one-on-one counseling, utilizing a variety of therapy approaches adapted to each youth, including UNICEF-approved Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET). The center provides vocational and life skills training, school catch-up programs, and reunification services. Upon completion of the second phase of construction, the center will have capacity for up to 250 children and youth to reside at the center where they will receive holistic counseling services, which are also available for less-severe outpatient cases. Currently, a limited number of severely traumatized children are receiving treatment while the center builds staff capacity and develops systems. Full capacity is targeted for Fall 2012. Program management will continue to coordinate with both local and international NGOs and UN agencies to ensure that the center’s activities are utilized by, and fit within, the regional psychosocial and protection strategies.
    Promoting peace and prosperity through Education and Livelihood initiatives
    The scholarship provides fully paid, merit-based scholarships and mentoring from local full-time Invisible Children Mentors. Students are selected based on academic potential and need.
    Stats as of December 2011:
    University students: 250
    Secondary students: 590 (currently recruiting additional students)
    This program partners with 11 secondary schools and their surrounding communities in northern Uganda, working on projects that both build and renovate structures, while also investing in teachers and curriculum. The program also facilitates a yearly Teacher Exchange Program benefiting both Ugandan and international educators.
    Stats as of December 2011:
    Partner schools: 11
    Students attending partner schools: 9,048
    The Livelihood Program takes a holistic approach to providing sustainable economic growth and improved living conditions for war-affected northern Ugandans. It impacts rural communities using a three-pronged approach: over 1,250 community members are saving and loaning together, participating in our Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) program; 5,000 community members are benefiting from clean water and health and sanitation initiatives through the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) program; and over 1,000 people are receiving training on numeracy, reading, and writing in their local language as a part of our Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) program.
    Stats as of December 2011:
    WASH: over 5,000 (20 communities with an average of 250 community members)
    VSLA: 1,250 community members (50 groups of 25-30 members each)
    FAL: 1,000 community members (50 groups of 20-25 members each)

    They have answered lots of the question that are surrounding Kony2012 http://www.invisiblechildren.com.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/critiques.html

  34. Kony 2012 is a psychological propaganda at it’s worst. Playing off a story that isn’t real as it’s presented. This is such a load of crap. This is a test to see how easily Americans will fall for whatever is put towards them on a video. Just like the osama bin laden staged phony crap. Did anyone even notice that people were ALREADY on the white house lawn before Obama made the announcment? Hellooo..nobody is thinking anymore, they are just reacting and that’s what some in this goverment want. They don’t want thinkers. They want followers. Wake up.

  35. Really nice thoughts, one point i think is very accurate, is when you say that the error in this whole thing, is to think of africans as people incapable of doing anything or solving anything by themselves, so, as africans are considered to be completely hopeless and almost useless, america, or the whole world, should feel pity for them, and help them with everything, because they are just like a handicap person that can´t even feed himself by his own means… so everybody should feel pity for them and give aids. I strongly believe that what you say is what it’s need to be done, to reinforce the local initiatives, to believe in your own capabilities to evolve and solve your own problems, that obviously you are the ones who will better know which those problems are, and also, change the image that the media has brought up to your people, as a poor, threatened continent, full of sorrow and hopelessness… and start to show another face of normal hardworking people trying to rise from their limitating conditions… as in many places all around the world, where everyone is fighting against poorness, violence, ignorance, hunger, diseases, etc. It is true that maybe in Africa you can see extreme cases that maybe can´t be seen elsewhere, but i think it is also true that you are not as handicapped as the media tends to show you. If a person like you, speaking like you, with your level of sharp thinking and also emotional inteligence is what you can meet in Uganda…. then i dont think you should be envying nothing of noone in the world. Just organize yourselves and get the ideas concretized so you can start evolving… but if people like you are what you can find there, i dont think you need that much advice in the matter of how to get out of your suposed “state” of chaos. More than that, what you need is maybe initiatives that truly seek your development, with financial support and as in everywhere in the world, improving education, the best investment anyone can make. But this image the media is selling, of helping, and crying, and addopting little african kids to show mercy and compassion for them, and that whole thing of all feeling pity for the poor africans and all that crap, as you say, doesn’t help in no way to solve your real problems.
    Really liked your words, and feel really involved emotionally with your cause.. GO AFRICANS!

    PD: With all the respect, loved your words, your way of talking, loved your accent, and also i think you are very beutiful woman, and also smart and more important, with heart and passion. A true WOMAN! more like you should be in the world may i say with all the respect. Greetings from Chile, a nice little country in the corner of southamerica 🙂

  36. Hi, maybe telling some truth can help you understand western people.
    In Western countries we really don’t care about Uganda. When you meet some activists helping Africa: they are people disatisfied with their lives and fleeing to danger zone to find a purpose. The time we helped everybody is over (mainly because locals always turn against our citizen or steal the funds).

    If you don’t want us to care about you, it’s already the case. I didn’t shed a tear during the Kony2012 video. Except children and people born yesterday, everybody knows how this region is messed up. The last thing to do is sending troops there (remember Somalia 93)…

    I am aware of child soldiers since the 90’s. It was in a Newsweek issue. Only the locals can take care of themselve and turn things around.
    But KONY: maybe we will scare him just enough so he turns himself. Many warlords did that in the past.

    *I understand that Ugandan army can be uneasy with the issue since they committed the same crimes. Everybody wants to bury the past deep in the ground.*

    1. “In western world , we………..blah. blah,” who asked you to care ,and can you please talk about yourself and stop using the “we” , no one was expecting you to shed tears, otherwise you wild have fallen a victim of the manipulation this video is potraying .And who is this everybody who knows how messed up this region is?? People of your reasoning should first makke inquiries before posting crap,,

  37. Thank you for speaking out, Rosebell. I wrote about KONY 2012 on my blog to encourage my readers to research the cause before they jumped in. I also discussed the issue of “Affinity Fraud” and suggested people use this as an opportunity to consider the possibility. I haven’t made any final conclusions about IC, but I’ve been stunned by the negative backlash that recruits have levied against those who question the cause. You voice is very important in helping people to make an informed decision. Well done.

  38. In feel like they had a gun pointed on you when were making you statement,or you are related to those bad guys, the world is changing we have to change it with too,stop look in the past let’s move forward, this movement is not only concerning Africa, this is globalization, human trafficking or children trafficating period, Jakob is one of millions of kids that has been used or abused in Africa , spreading this about Joseph Cony help an other psycho not to think about messing with kids future.how a man will get in the future if in not prepared.wake up people, wake stop sleeping used network to open you eyes and your brain,pride ,put your pride aside.

  39. First of all, thank you so much for sharing your point of view. You have clearly thought through your opinions and have articulated them very well. I am one of the ones who, upon seeing Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 video, became impassioned to join them in their cause. But my perception of their mission was slightly different. I write this, not to defend IC, (admittedly I don’t know enough about them), but to explain the reasons why I support KONY 2012 – through the eyes of someone who reads the stories of survivors of the Holocaust in World War 2, and understands the mission to hold accountable military leaders under whom great atrocities have occurred.

    I never saw this campaign as the West coming to Africa’s rescue. Instead, I viewed this as an opportunity to advocate for international resources to be used to capture and try an internationally indicted war criminal. I would hope that the outcome of IC’s campaign is not only one where American citizens pressure their government to act, but where citizens in every free country pressure their country to act. I am not naive enough to think that Joseph Kony is the only person that needs to be tried for war crimes, however, capturing him and trying him is a start.

    I also understand that there is more to northern Uganda’s story than searching for a war criminal – that reconstruction efforts (for a lack of a better way to phrase) are vital to continuing the peace that has been achieved. Hopefully the KONY 2012 campaign will spark interest in these efforts as well. It certainly has opened up dialogue about the West’s role, NGO’s roles, and what is and has happened in northern Uganda.

    At the very least, I hope the enthusiasm evoked by the KONY 2012 campaign encourages you to know that there are many people across the globe who will stand by Ugandan’s sides to fight for justice and liberty in your country. I wish you peace, and God’s grace.

  40. thank you so much for enlightening us. You should be an ambassador! You made your point without insulting people. However, I think the organization responsible for the Kony2012 genuinely mean well. And I am aware there are many people that committed brutal crimes during the war and you guys are trying to get back to some sort of normalcy. I was under the impression that Kony was not murdering out of political ambitions and that the 30,000 people he murdered had nothing to do with the war in itself. He is an opportunist. I am hearing the same message from many Ugandans regarding the Kony2012 initiative. “Lets move on… the war is no longer an issue. Lets not make waves and rock the boat” If I am wrong, please tell me. If one single private, American citizen committed as much murder and mayhiem as did Kony, he would be hunted down, no matter what the political circumstances. I want to be respectful, but I just don’t get the attitude of the Ugandans that spoke negatively about this film. The man committed some ugly crimes. At the end of your short statement, you say something like, “Sure… this man did some bad things, but….” Its like you are minumizing his history.

  41. I think you’re an amazing young woman. The world (and especially Africa), is in dire need of more people like you. People who are intelligent and confident enough to stand up and be proudly responsible for the job of fixing what’s broken in their homelands.

    But I need to understand why you would take issue with a campaign, regardless where it was born or how misguided parts of it appear to be, that aims to eliminate the horrific suffering of kids and their families. The intention is to shine a light on an open sore named Kony that’s been seething and festering for decades without any apparent solution or cure, has destroyed tens of thousands of lives while most of the world has been focused on hangnails and dinner menu choices, and has been untouchable in the parts of the world where it operates.

    I appreciate your point of view Rosebell, but Kony needs to be stopped. If absolutely nothing else comes of Russel’s efforts, he’ll have done a great service to those children and their families that Kony was unable to destroy, and that’s worth a great deal of effort, regardless from which part of the globe it arises.

  42. the fact that Kony2012 campaign spread all over the world is true.the campaign also heard in indonesia,a country that thousand miles away from uganda.as an indonesian journalist,i’ve plan to write about Kony2012 campaign,then i realize that there is a lot of criticism.i think the point is not Kony,but that complexity in africa.thank you rosebell for giving us (in the different part of the globe) a different perspective.we dont want any misinterpretation and mislead

  43. Thank you Rosebell – your voice on this matter is invaluable. I’ve worked in Uganda with NGOs there before and had basically stopped because so many of them are more damaging than helpful (not all, but you have to look closely). People do think that as long as they are “trying to do some good” how they go about it does not matter. But the reality of that is that the process MATTERS. Amongst the people I knew in Uganda, Invisible Children had an especially poor reputation. They are great fundraisers, but as an organization has *never* taken the time to actually assess the issues or even objectively look at their own impact. So, the result is that a lot of the money they raise is wasted on ineffective interventions while, as the Kony2012 thing shows, they are still out of touch with the current realities. The truth is that now this organization is their employment and livelihood. Its harder to market post-conflict resolution than kidnapping of children by a villian. So they go with the old tried and true storyline. Without assessing the damage it does to Uganda, both in emotional terms of national pride and understanding with the rest of the world, and in actual fiscal terms as it will affect the rising tourist industry (Uganda is gorgeous…) and investors perceptions and stream money continuously into the NGO economy which at this point in time prevents the other parts of the economy from growing in a more natural fashion.

    Those who think this is not an issue of “white man’s burden” or that people are “noble” for even trying, need to research more of the actual issues and effects.

  44. Why isn’t the australian government helping?- Wait i know, because the’re just a bunch of lazy-ass people arguing about money

  45. So many respondees have talked about “those who do not have a voice.”

    That’s ridiculous.

    Everyone has a voice. The problem occurs when the rest of the world yells so loud that it drowns out the voices of entire people groups.

    We should be quite and listen.

    1. Valid concern. But, when do you draw the line between quiet listening time and cold detachment? How can we be sure we (as a person, as a nation, as humanity) aren’t just not yelling, but not speaking when we should be or are wanted to be?

  46. Thank you. I have shared your video in the hope that people caught up in the hype might stop and think. I hope people take the time to listen to different perspectives and then make an informed decision.

  47. Thank you Rosebell for your response. I agree that we do need a policy shift and a sustained approach to post-conflict recovery. Yes, with an academic eye we can critique the Kony 2012 campaign and talk about how it simplifies the various conflicts and how it fails to mention the changes in Uganda today and the powerful work of Ugandans in instigation grassroots change.

    However, strategically if someone wants to sell an idea to a mass audience that need to keep it simple (not necessarily simplistic). The message that Invisible Children Inc is pitching is: people can make a difference in ending conflict and bring perpetrators for crime to account….we are not powerless…we can make a difference.

    This is the message that I got from the campaign. And this simple message can be applied for any social, political and environmental campaign. This idea transcends borders. It can be applied in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria just as it can be applied in the US, UK, or Uganda, DRC, CAR or South Sudan.

    Yes the specifics of the campaign focused on Joseph Kony, and of the pressure that could be placed on American policy makers and legislators. But that is because Jason Russel and his friends were from the States. This is what they know. It is not to deny the place of local action by Ugandans, or citizens of neighbouring states in bringing Kony to account.

    Rosebell you obviously are doing great things in your country. But is it not possible that if we all work collectively internally and externally then we can increase the chances of stopping perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    There is much we – from wherever we are on this tiny fragile planet – can learn from each other. This is part of the message of Kony 2012. I wish you well.


  48. Rose! Your ideas are halfway true. I wish u were one of the people in Northern Uganda who suffered all those years. You would shut the fuck’n mouth of yours. Am a Ugandan, one of those people who suffered in the north. I am a freelance development thinker and a great academician now. I that the west is over exaggerating but, they are still helping the kids.

    1. Brother Francis, as an East African living in N. America (Canada), I would like to remind you of the need to “respectfully” voice your dissenting opinions. I’m sure you have the skill and ability to publicly express your dissatisfaction with Rosebell’s viewpoint without resorting to insults and vulgarity. We can disagree with our fellow Africans, but I encourage us to do so in a manner that still respects our dignity and humanity. As a sister of ours, Rosebell did not deserve to be called names or to be wished harm upon, simply for expressing her opinion(s) about an issue that affects her (and your) homeland. Peace & Blessings

  49. Thank you so much for this. No matter how much time he has spent in Uganda, Jason is not Ugandan. I’ve lived most of my life in Kenya and when this thing started, I began looking for what East Africans (specifically Ugandans) are saying about this. This is a very valuable contribution to the discussion.

    This video is a sermon given by Angelina Atyam, who is a co-founder of the Concerned Parents Association. She has the right idea. Kony is a bad man, but arresting him will not ‘fix’ anything. As you have said, there are plenty of local organisations that need support.


  50. Your perspective is immensely interesting and sobering. You are an amazing communicator and I could listen to you talk for hours! Thank you for your voice and your opinion, and clearly it has been and is being heard. I do have a few points I would argue though, if you don’t mind!

    In my opinion, when trying to effect change from within, often you need to pacify the government, empower them to be a part of the change. The problem with that though, is that (not wanting to generalize, but sadly this is the reality in most African countries, which is why many suffer from poverty and lack of elementary resources more than anywhere in the world) most African governments are corrupt. There is hardly any room for including them in the greater view of humanity because they often are looking to find what is in it for them. Clearly not every person in government is corrupt. I am sure you could find true men and women of integrity and honor. But it is not every PERSON who is corrupt – all it takes is one, and BAM! your system is corrupt and flawed. It is impossibly difficult to work with such governments. Your intentions can be so pure and altruistic, but it might as well just end there.

    My dad went to Africa recently for the second or third time. He went to the country of Benin in West Africa. Such a lovely people, and a beautiful country. He fell in love! However, he was appalled when upon arriving at the country’s airport (the first time), another man from France got off the plane with him, and had flown in a huge shipment of solar panels, in an effort to educate, encourage and help people get reusable energy. Didn’t the authorities stop him, and tell him that they wouldn’t allow him in, unless he paid them in CASH for 40% of the value of his panels? The dude was so thrown off, he literally jumped right back on the plane to head back home, and brought back his full shipment of solar panels with him. His intentions were good. He tried to get the people involved in a new, renewable effort and got halted before he could even start.

    This is not the only story i’ve heard like this. Again, your point of view is so sobering considering this whole Kony 2012 hype. But is it realistic? Is there an alternative to getting external aid in Africa? Sure the people can have a voice. But is it heard? In history you see that people try to speak so loud, but remain unheard or ignored by their government, and what does it cause? Rebellion – you said it! I don’t blame them. Imagine the frustration in trying to speak on behalf of your people and being shut up by the government because your plans won’t profit them? It’s so sad to say but I am just skeptical about African governments… It makes me ask myself if external aid from forget the USA, this has become a WORLDWIDE initiative! – is this the only way to truly affect change? The only alternative i could think of which would include African people from start to finish begins with the Education of the present and next generation. Look at this girl speaking! She is amazing! All you need is a few more like this, with a heart of honor and integrity, and you’ve got a whole government shift. I believe in it! But until then, I do believe in external aid PARTNERING with Africans to make considerable change. Isn’t this what Kony 2012 is promoting?

    Last thing, also in terms of resources: the reason for all this “Kony 2012 propaganda” is to raise funds to better equip Ugandan armies to find the criminals. This clearly is not a possibility internally, otherwise it would have been done in the past and I wouldn’t be here writing this extensively long dissertation on my opinion. The truth and reality is that until the continent stabilizes (wars, technology & government) it will clearly need external funds and aid to help TRAIN the people in new ways.

    Anyways. Still totally agreed on you on many points, like understanding the PRESENT context of the conflict rather than living 8 years in the past, among other things. Great, sobering video. Thank you thank you thank you!

  51. It’s fascinating to hear your views and in a broad sense I agree with many of your points. However why is a simplistic approach raising awareness of a single mans crimes a bad thing when it leads to people actually becoming interested in the wider picture. I for one would not ever have read your blog if the Kony 2012 campaign did not exist.

  52. there are always to sides of the story… and it’s great to hear the story from you… what I do believe positive in the campaign is the empowerment of the masses… how the people are actually stronger than the politicians… myself, from Mexico, we haven’t believed that yet, we as you have conflicts, and our story has been told throughout the news not in the right way as well… but with people like you, who actually believe in their own country and people, being able to stand up and speak for yourself, that’s already making a change, a big difference…

  53. You make some very valid points. I would love to hear more of the story from your perspective. I just thought I would let you know that the same people who made the video also have many on ground operations such as improving education for children in the region.

  54. So you don´t want/need international help? You are rigth, outsiders will never fully comprehend the situation, yet you admit he is a bad guy, local efforts have been insufficient and he is currently wanted internationally.
    Therefore, while I understand -and agree- that the US´s ego is tainting the campain, the backlash it has gotten makes me wonder, would people feel differently if the promoters were not American?
    At its core, I think its a good cause, its purpose is to make someone famous in order to find him and bring him to justice, in that sense I guess I support KONY2012.
    If anything it has managed to prove once againg the power of social networks in international social and political issues.

  55. Thank you so much for your perspective on the war and post-war recovery in Uganda. Your voice was heard and I agree with you that the narative about the “hopeless” African needing Western support is WRONG and needs to change. You are obviously intelligent and powerful, and powerfuly spoken in your own right. . . I would LOVE to see you organize those elders you spoke about and the peace fighters you know to create video like you did and SHARE it. We will watch! We will listen & we will share just like the Kony2012 video. This is the time for global communication. Lets keep it open and growing!

  56. You know what? It doesn’t matter if a bunch of F***king armchair experts think Uganda is being shown in a poor light – All that matters is that Jacob has hope now as do many of the children like him, and if this guys effort caused that, thats all there is to it.

    What makes anyone think they know better how to fix things? If Ugandans can sort things out on their own, let em. This video is not hindering that. I knew nothing about KONY and today I do, so stop pissing on someones hard work and truly noble intentions. 80% of Americans wouldn’t even be able to find Africa on a map, so reaching to such an extent is commendable at least and admirable.

    I wish I had a tenth of his dedication, I could transform my country…

    1. I find it interesting that these sorts of comments always deride people who have been involved in actual on the ground work as ‘armchair experts’ and dismiss their views and experience, as if living and working in Uganda itself is irrelevant. This, I think, reinforces the biggest problem I have with the Kony 2012 campaign – it is so reductionist, and so emotionally manipulative, that if anyone questions it those who support the campaign respond with vicious bile. When the people who live and work in Uganda and on this conflict are being abused for raising their concerns and asking for their voices to be heard, the Kony 2012 campaign is already causing damage.

  57. Rose, thank you for releasing this video. Your critique is both succinct and very sincere – will spread to other students, friends, and family! Though various student organizations are bringing this campaign to our campus, we will be hosting events and panel sessions to find alternative visions, campaigns, and grass-roots organisations to support that properly and effectively address the issues most pertinent to Ugandans (as they define them). Again, great video!

  58. Thank you for sharing. Personally I have hard time to agree with the amount of money that this organization burns compared with the actual relief / aid delivered.

    Regardless of what their mission statement is reciting the bottom line is that they are getting cash on the backs of Ugandan kids, and the vast majority of this resources are not producing tangible results right now for the very kids intended to be recipients.

    The global community is perfectly aware of the situation in Syria that it is not the pivotal reason for the Assad regime and the international political circus to come to a full stop.

    Awareness is not a Walmart mass produced product with immediate results as bread or an education, imagine how many kids they could send to school with 13 million a year or 30 million in the last few years.

    Looking are their tax returns is disgusting and what about the people that just drop a tear and move on quickly to the next sensation?


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  60. since race and stance seem to be everything here, let me put it up-front that I am a fat old white guy and probably not a very nice one … as soon as I saw that you were referring to Chimamanda Adichie’s lecture, which I know well, I began to wonder, fearfully … because she is so important to me, I have studied all of her work carefully and I take inspiration from it, particularly ‘Purple Hibiscus’ which has for me an entirely fresh moral dimension – one I have not found anywhere else – so as soon as you mentioned ‘single story’ I recognized it and my antennae went up, and as I read along, and then watched and listened to your video … well, I lost heart, I guess that’s what one says in a case like this, ai ai ai

    it is a longer story than there is room for in this little rectangular space provided, all I can wish is that you had taken more time over your judgements, because you are credible, yes, and informed, yes, and even so it seems (to me) that you have not only missed the point but missed an incredible opportunity also

    be well, David Wilson.

    1. I am a Ugandan and I certainly appreciate the debate and “awareness” that the video has raised, however in my analysis the unintended awareness raised by the video is more relevant to finding lasting solutions than the awareness effect intended by the producer.

      The principal grievance of many Ugandans is that we have been effectively locked out by of the aid discourse and interventions in the northern rehabilitation, as foreign aid workers arbitrarily and for reasons they know best think they are best positioned to shape the problem. I am a law graduate and my applications to work with a number of foreign aid organizations even as a mere volunteer have been rejected. As someone noted the policy making process in many of these aid organizations, especially those receiving the most funding needs to be rethought.

      I will cite one example, how many of the five Directors of IC are Uganda?, none. However they do remember to employ Ugandan drivers, menial workers and administrative officers (see IC website), Is this really shared ownership? To what extent do they contribute to IC policy making and analsis at the Board level. IC in my probably irrelevant opinion are to a good extent victims of their own folly. Nobody in Uganda knows how they reach many of their conclusions and policy prescriptions in the video, even senior Government officials have come out saying the video is misleading when considered in context. The issue therefore could be to what extent is misinformation better than information.

  61. Sorry my bad english, but i want to tell you, thanks for your blog, thanks for tell our african’s story. I write from Maracaibo, Venezuela, I’am journaliste and today at 10:00 hs o’clock to 11:00hs Venezuelan time or like 14:30hs london time, or 17:30hs Kampala, I’am going to talk about your point of view like the film Rony 2012. If it is possble we are going to play your declaration catching from your video. The radio station is in http://www.radiofeyalegrianoticias.net banner alive and then 850am Maracaibo.

      1. Transmití sus declaraciones y realicé una traducción comprensible para los radiopensantes, también tradujimos en wayunaiki, lenjuaje o idioma de los goajiros que habitan el occidente de Venezuela. Creo que nos hace falta mucha más información. Saludos.

  62. Thank you so much for telling it like it is. An almost three decade war may not be so simplified. I think the information has been out there, but its election time here in the U.S. and some need playing the drums of war for their own political survival. With the level of available technology and individuals like yourself, the days are numbered when the West tells the African stories.

  63. Pingback: Kony 2012 «
  64. Research the connections of the Kony video’s producers to extreme right wing Christians with connections to.Liberty University that are behind this video. The crazy evangelical NAR movement has interfered enough in Ugandan politics already…. Remember the Kill the Gays Bill? Please be circumspect and check out the stealth evangelical intent behind this video.
    It’s misguided. The LRA isn’t even in Uganda anymore. The biggest threat in Uganda is from the dictator Museveni and his genocidal troops

  65. Wow, you “have a problem with one man trying to save Africa”??? Seriously? You should be aligning yourself with this man from Invisible Children and the power and influence he has accrued to help a people who are not even his own!! Instead you are bashing him! He may be just an ignorant American but he has dedicated his life to this cause, tell me, what have you done to join the effort, besides sitting in front of your computer showing your superior intelligence!!!??? INCREDIBLE!!

  66. I find these comments very interesting, and typical, and in many respects, sad. Sorry, but I have thrown out my post-modern thesaurus. It was choking me to death. Until that video was released, how many people the world over knew about this issue? How many know about it now? A lot more. What is the effect of that? At this point it is difficult to measure, so we will have to wait and see. The whole is always greater than the sum of it’s parts, and this is a classic example of that. Would it be better for the three nations in Africa if Kony was captured as a result of this? Yes, you bet it would be. Would it solve all of the problems? No. Did IC oversimplify the issue and leave important historical data out of the narrative? Yes. Does that matter to the average person who they are trying to connect with? No, not immediately. But, if they are really interested, they will get the full history.Who are the primary characters in this story, the ones who would be of interest to the global population? The victims, the women and children, and the men who were unwilling to collaborate. Does the ommission of important (to some of us) historical and geo-political data mean that this campaign is irrelevent, and tantamount to corruption and therefore a total waste of time, and a western, white man’s post modern rendition of Tarzan? I seriously doubt that.

    What I see in my students, every day, and my classrooms in Toronto resemble the United Nations, is a willingness to get involved regardless of identity politics, which has been brought up numerous times with respect to this issue. Who is to get involved in this issue? What are the criteria for membership and admission? Who are the gate keepers (and there appear to be plenty across a wide spectrum of political ideologies)? My young, and curious and concerned and interested students don’t stop to ponder these questions. They, like, I suspect of so many of the thousands who have shown an interest in this problem, just want to lend their support for change. Do they know what they are getting into? No, most of the time they do not. The thick skinned will stick it out. And how many does that amount to, I mean really stick it out to the point where you are writing letters and presuring your government to act, and mobilizing and out there pushing the envelope? Not too many as I am sure most of you can attest to.

    Of all the people reading Rosebell’s blog, how many actually go out in the field and can claim that they make a real difference? At this point I can’t. I’m great at spreading information and sharing ideas, but not to the scale of this thing. What I find amazing and disturbing is the outright blanket criticism of this intiative (Kony2012) has the effect of actually legitimizing his actions. There is tremendous currency in cyicism. It has the ability to stifle and drown possibility. As a teacher, I see that every day.

  67. Hi Rosebell, I found your video really helpful. I was trying to gather information about this bizarre campaign (it looked bizarre to me, at least, at a first glance). There’s absolutely no background information in Kony2012 video about Uganda’s recent history or (even!) what the LRA purpose was or is in the first place. In my experience giving no info means someone’s trying to hide something. Of course I know very little about Uganda but still I find that you can’t campaign about something you have no idea. And I absolutely agree that this kind of narrative is so obviously twisted and biased, not to mention way too old (thanks for that info). We live with this narrative everyday in Mexico and many other places around the world: the so-called americans (meaning US soldiers) are coming to rescue us, but hey, guess what, we don’t want to be rescued, least of all by the army of a country that is mainly responsible for creating and mantaining our problemes in the first place. DUH!!!

    I fear that if this campaign should be succesful, we may very well start being afraid. Who can assure me that tomorrow I won’t wake up with a so-called “viral campaign” claiming that the US needs to send troops to mexico to rescue the poor mexicans from the evil of El Chapo Guzman? Or do otherwise with any other country? The dangers of this viral simplicity -viral ignorance- are not to be underestimated. If we allow this kind of narrative to actually determine the course of events (and wars) in other countries, well, I’m sorry for the language, but we’re so fucked up.

    Lastly I’d be very grateful if you could explain us what ressources are at stake in this war (it’s always about the ressources, I guess), the origins and history of the LRA and of course it’d be so enlightning if you could tell us a bit more about the local initiatives you mention in the video. I’m sorry I’m so ignorant, but the world’s so big and there are so many countries, sometimes one feels like you can’t really keep up or even understand…

    Many greetings from Mexico and thanks again for the information,

  68. Hi,
    I have to express my feelings and my opinion too. If I were Russel and I had promise to a child that I would do something about it, I would keep my promise. Most of the people don’t keep their promise. Most of the people don’t do anything to change. I think I’m one of them. But I can’t criticize something that is changing and making people think that they can make a difference for something that they believe with all their heart. Unfortunally we can’t avoid the voice of people putting us down when something good happen. There are many bad guys all over the world. There are many issues, problems the entire world. We can’t change all of the problems at the same time but we can try to make a difference. Please, instead of criticize and making the campaign looks like a non sense video, let’s spread and do something. I love all the nations and specially the kids. They need our support.
    “We all have VOICE but are not using. When we have an opportunity to use our VOICE we just remain SILENT.”

  69. So at the end of the day, what seems to be the issue is that we should ignore “outsiders” commenting and trying to help sort out a situation they feel impacted by, and channel our resources and support to “indigenous” people who understand the “context”. What’s there to understand in the context? Is this really that complex? We have a maniac who has been running around for over a quarter of a century, killing, maiming, kidnapping, and despite countless promises, our government has failed to stop him. Oh yes – they pushed him over the border. Great. Now we can all move on and think about rebuilding. Justice? What’s that all about? ICC – that’s neo-colonialism. Betty Bigombe thought she could have dialogue with this guy in the 90’s – we are still waiting. Having spoken to Kony’s one time “spokesman” Mr Matsanga (one of the most amoral creatures I have ever met), I know that there are always people willing to make a buck, regardless of how many lives pay for that buck. Maybe Kony is not top of mind anymore in Northern Uganda, and maybe people do want to move on. I don’t know, but surely, as a nation, we bred this monster and we should have the duty to stop him. So take away the US troops, I don’t know why we need them with an army the size we have. In any case, why should the US have to deploy its army to deal with Kony – he has never affected their national interest. I find this whole discussion incredibly shallow and self-centered. In all this, Mr Russell stands out for doing what he feels he must, and if he makes some money or gets some fame out of that, so be it. How many Ugandans have profited from this war? Is that not one of the reasons it went on so long?

    1. Jonathan, it would be good to hear some more of your perspective. As a European Australian I am an easy target on this issue for racial stereotypes. It is ironic that we now are having the reverse racial discrimination occurring.

      When can we as humans see past the colour of our skin and look at the substance of ideas? Yes, we can disagree about the campaign and criticism is good up to a point. However, if criticism is not managed well, instead of helping provide a better alternative to helping reduce violence in the region and for post-conflict recovery – over zealot criticism of this campaign may cause the fence sitters to go back to their plasma tvs and choose the easy option of choosing not to act and let others sort out their own problem.

      Jonathan I agree to reduce the problem to an us vs them is not helpful. As Ben Lee says “We are all in this together”
      Regards Stewart Mills, Sydney.

      1. “Reverse racism” doesn’t exist, Stewart. Pay attention to history, colonialism, and imperialism and the uneven distribution of racial power that STILL affects society and you’ll know why I am saying this.

        Racism is not citizens objecting to ignorance and misunderstandings from foreign countries with a known history of “helping” nations whether they want it or not.

  70. Thank you so much for this truly insightful response to the Kony 2012 video. It is the first piece of heart felt properly researched information i have come across.

  71. Pingback: Spotlight CHANGE
  72. We around the world have had enough of Americans interfering with their “good” intentions leading to hell. In the Balkans there are thousands of ongoing cancer cases – an epidemic in fact – where the good- intending Americans dropped their good-natured depleted uranium bombs – the same ones they are dropping and selling everywhere. This is happening in Kosovo and Serbia, but also in the Montana region of neighboring Bulgaria (a supporter of the US in their good-natured, well-meaning military campaign). This is only one example of the results of American interference. You do your good helping deeds and then go home, leaving the mess to the locals. YANKEES GO HOME AND STAY THERE before you’ve made a mess this time! Ugandans can sort it out themselves – they don’t need your uninformed opinion. Thanks for the good article.

  73. I am a northern Ugandan from Gulu, the area worst affected by the Kony/Museveni war but beg to differ from Rosebell’s opinion. And I think I speak for the vast majority of northern Ugandans who are very grateful to Invisible Children for bringing their plight to the world spotlight. The typical reaction is that with the spotlight on Kony’s capture perhaps justice will be done after all, and both Kony and President Museveni and his brutal army will face justice for crimes against humanity and human rights violations during the long conflict. Unfortunately, right now we can only hope for justice and intervention from “saviour figures” outside the country because of the utter neglect, discrimination and suppression against northern Uganda from Museveni’s government. Efforts on peace talks and other initiatives from within have been repeatedly frustrated and struck down (1994 peace talks is a glaring example).

    For those who complain that the war is long over in northern Uganda and therefore stopping Kony is now irrelevantI ask, is it OK for Kony to continue killing and abducting children in Congo, S. Sudan and Central African Republic? Is is OK for northern Ugandans to be plagued with worry that Kony could one day return to restart where he left off? Wouldn’t capturing and putting Kony on trial bring at least half-closure for the victims, even if other perpetrators still go free? Cessation of active fighting alone does not necessarily mean normal life has returned to the people suffering from long drawn psychological trauma starting to rebuild their lives from scratch without much help. Capturing Kony and bringing him to trial would certainly help in the healing process.

    Those like Rosebell who are criticising the KONY 2012 campaign would rather see the Kony problem hidden under the carpet, or are too embarrassed by the 20-year unwillingness and/or failure of the Ugandan government to bring an end to their suffering under Kony. Tell me, how could Kony’s rag-tag foot army of a few thousand composed mostly forced recruits elude a powerful Ugandan government army of over 50,000 with sophisticated weapons?

    One of the tools the Ugandan government apologists are using is playing the “colonialist” or “neo-colonialist” or “western saviour” card to sidetrack viewers from the real issue which is the documented UNWILLINGNESS and FAILURE by the Ugandan government to contain Kony all these 25 years! Should we continue advocating for the same remedies again after it has failed again and again? Reminds me of the famous Einstein quote about insanity, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
    I think it is very disingenuous of Rosebell Kagumire, a journalist I previously respected to be misleading the world in this manner. I hope enough people see through it.

    1. Great to hear your side Joyce, Im sure those responsible for IC will be endeared to hear it after all this useless criticism from Rosebell and associates.

      1. Chelsea, have you ever set foot in Africa? Useless criticisms from the people who live there? With the recent melt down of J Russell, there might be a position opening up at IC. I’m not sure where you are writing from, but if it is the US, perhaps you could take your “enthusiasm” for saving the world to a few of the Aborignal reserves in the US and see if you could’nt help the “poor natives” fix their “sorry lot”, or better yet, take your film crew into a few of the all black neighbourhoods in any of the US states and tell the “po’ black folks” how you think they should fix their problems. Once you done any of those suggestion, you might have a better perspective as an outsider.

  74. Thank you for this info! It’s nice to see that people want to care, but whenever a video like this surfaces, there always seems to be misinformation and panic without proper research and background.

  75. I think in as much as RoseBell has a point in saying “rebellion within communities must be stopped to prevent wars”, we still need to appreciate the fact that we all have differing perspectives of issues. The producer seems to be tackling it from the angle that once Kony is arrested and prosecuted that child soldiers will seize to exist…the question i ask is “is that true for a fact?”( as RoseBell says -and i have to take her words for it-the situation in northern uganda has improved.) I believe the essence of the documentary was to campaign for the arrest of KONY not to tell the world the story of Uganda as it is today-he did clearly mention 10 years ago as the time he met Jacob, didnt he? No one else told/ is telling the story of the people (i stand to be corrected), the Ugandans are not doing it themselves are they? It’s a shame that we get upset often when Africa is portrayed in a “negative way” by the Western world but i find that to be hipocrisy at its worst. Majority of people outside Africa or who have never been to Africa do not know OUR stories. If we are not the ones telling our own stories, then what report do we expect them to believe?

    “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
    …whose time is NOW. Joshua has an idea..he believes this is the time to carry it out! What about us? Are our local initiatives to prevent wars working? Let’s evaluate them NOW !

  76. Thanks for sharing this, and setting the record straight. It’s good to know that there are people like you, rather than white people who have that whole ‘saviour complex’, sharing your voices and experiences.

  77. As an African (Kenyan) I have got to say that we are an interesting bunch! I’m not sure we even know what we want… What is the goal here? Is the goal to have a perfect story or to get humanity to stop for a minute and participate? I am so confused by the Africans who do not appreciate the publicity received from this initiative. Our continent is in shambles and because our egos are bruised by the airing of our dirty laundry, we now want to count all the good things that we have already done and point out all the errors of a group that has for the last 10 years tried to do something – anything to stop Kony and others.

    Nobody has disputed that many local groups are working on this problem. We must recognize the sacrifices of the many who are working. But from a campaign perspective, would it have been better to make a movie highlighting every single fact? With all the atrocities how long would that movie be? Several days long? Let’s be practical. Practical – that is a tall order… something tells me that the reason why at least Kenya or Africa is in its current position is because we have no idea what being practical means.

    Why are we so focused on pointing out the negative? Why can’t we be thankful that the world is now aware that something has been happening? Invisible Children is doing their part – let’s do ours and stop being the authority while sitting in our air-conditioned and heated, comfortable homes.

    I applaud the Invisible Children for raising the awareness and provoking the consciousness of people whose most important tweet or facebook post the day before they saw the video was “The Real Housewives of Anywhere” or what the Kardashians did yesterday!

    That’s my 2 cents worth of opinions of this issue!

    1. The more I watch her video the more it makes me realize how (almost) pointless it is for me to offer up much in the way of “advice” on this issue from the comfort of my living room in Toronto, Canada. And when I think about that, I begin to become very uncomfortable with the knowledge that I have gained through reading, watching and listening to the stories, blogs, twitterings, you tube videos, opinion pieces in newspapers around the world, etc.,and how that makes me wonder how, or rather what on earth Jason Russell and Co. were thinking when they set out to make this video? When you watch the video of the Kony2012 video being shown to Ugandan’s in Lira, and hear their testimony, it is painfully clear how inappropriate, and insensitive the entire campaign is. And the arrogance that continues to be displayed by IC and their supporters is really quite shocking and appalling. If you are told by the recipients of what ever “service” you are offering, that they don’t want it, shouldn’t that be a sign to move on? It is analgous to having men cousell women who have been raped, or people who have experienced racial discimintaion having to report their experience to a member of the group that was responsible for the discrimination. The vast majority of North Americans are so far removed from this that any meaningful contribution from most of us is almost irrelevant. IMHO,anyone who wants to do anything meaningful should find a local Ugnadan NGO that is involved in the recovery process, and donate.There are ways to find that information and to facilitate it as well.

  78. I wonder when everyone is going to realise that this war is never going to end as long as the black market gold and diamonds trade exists in the region. Kony may be the bad guy, but there are bigger and badder guys making sure he does not go anywhere.The region boast some of the largest unexploited natural resources in the world in the form of diamonds, gold, uranium, and other minerals. There are several parties with vested interest in the region that are funding the wars in Darfur, DRC, CAR and Uganda so as to facilitate their exploitation of this wealth of resources from the region. It is estimated that 30-50% of the diamonds produced each year leave the region “clandestinely”. That my friends, is what’s really going on. We shouldn’t be worrying about the pond scum (Kony), we need to deal with the real bad guys ….the puss that infects the mucus, that cruds up the fungus that feeds on the pond scum. There in lies the real problem!!!

  79. (I’m sorry if this post is a bit longwinded.)
    It’s not only the Americans and Africans that get affected by the KONY 2012 campaign. I’m gonna use myself as an example here. I’m a Norwegian law student about to finish my masters degree. You could say I’m white, or you could say I live in a different continent and therefore probably doesn’t know much about Africa.

    The Norwegians closest to me tend to talk about donating to charity as a duty. When I grew up, my mother told me: “eat all of your food, think about the starving people in Africa”. We grew up seeing suffering Africans in the history books. The only time we see Africa in the news today is when something tragic has happened, with only a few exception. So when I saw the KONY 2012 video, who was I to question it’s content?

    I’m expecting that most people reading this are reacting rather negatively to what I just wrote. Good! This has been by reaction too.

    I found this blog because of KONY 2012. I don’t approve of the content of the video and don’t want to share it, but I’m still glad I saw it. Think about that for a second. For me, it tells me something is lacking, but who am I to know what?

    I know little about what happens outside Norway and Europe, but it’s not for a lack of trying. Unfortunately, most of the information I find on the internet is either oversimplified, very detailed and aimed at experts, or it’s old and focused on the tragedies. It’s discouraging, and leaves me stuck with my view of Africa which is clearly lacking.

    I want to know more, I would like to help if possible, and I don’t feel sorry for it. This information isn’t just something I want in order to lessen a feeling of guilt. It could actually become relevant to me in my line of work in the future, seeing how I’m studying both Norwegian and international law. I’m also a human who cares. If I don’t become an expert, then at least I’d like to know enough to weigh up for the misinformation.

  80. Hi, I’m from Brazil and many of my friends also shared kony’s viral video on their facebook
    Thank you for posting your way of seeing things, it was very good to hear such an inteligent perspective! I’ll share your video to my brazilian friends also, spread the word!

  81. However the Kony2012 phenomenon “ends”, I’m thrilled to have discovered Rosebell’s blog, and through her, a whole network of African media and netizens. My African experience was once limited to Google News updates on the AU, and an occasional visit to allafrica.com. This is much better.

  82. Thanks Rosebell for this eloquent video. We’ve referenced it in a blog on WITNESS on ethics, representation and agency: http://blog.witness.org/2012/03/kony-2012-juggling-advocacy-audience-and-agency-when-using-video4change. Individuals like you, and groups like Global Voices play such a key role in giving prominence and amplifying stories – we need to make sure this is an integral part even of big narratives aimed at audiences with limited knowledge. There’s got to be a way of hybridizing the way that a film like Kony 2012 reached so many people, with a way of genuinely conveying the range of perspectives and emphasizing the decision-making from people deeply affected by the actions that are pushed for.

  83. Reblogged this on Purple Pond and commented:
    In light of the Kony 2012 campaign by Invisible Children and the conversations is has generated, I’m reblogging a post by Rosebell Idaltu Kagumire, a Ugandan multimedia journalist working on peace and conflict issues in the Eastern Africa region and Editor and Rights in Crisis Digital Campaigner at Channel16.

  84. This was absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much for offering such an intelligent, well thought-out, and objective opinion about the issue! There’s so much sensationalism surrounding the conflict, particularly in the West, that it is incredibly difficult to get such a clear, logical take on the issue.

  85. If there is an American presence at all in Africa, I believe that instead of “saving” the Africans, we should be supporting them in their effort to save themselves. When this conflict is over, it should be a victory for the Africans, not for Americans. America is so obsessed with getting credit for saving other countries that we forget that these people are capable of helping themselves, and they want to be able to help themselves. We should be supporting that effort rather than stepping in the middle and ending their problems for them.

  86. Why is it so hard for folks to just >ask< what another group needs of them instead of assume? We do this all the time in our culture- we decide what's best for children without asking them what they need, groups of men decide what's best for women's bodies without talking to women, urbanites create economic policy for rural people, the corporate boss creates rules for the workers without any concept of the realities of their daily lives and on and on. We are the inheritors of a culture of colonization and this paternal attitude is an unexamined extension of those power dynamics- REGARDLESS OF INTENTION. Far too often we look to the intentions of a perpetrator and not to the effect the action. No one knew that burning fossil fuels would change the climate, that was no one's intention. But if that process was begun with good intention, should that prevent me from being able to speak out about it's effect? No, it shouldn't. Good intentions are no excuse any more. So remember- the next time you want to help someone, ask them what they want before you do anything. Other wise your really good intentions might just hurt the very people you want to help and even worse? You might not even know it.

  87. To those that think bringing Kony to justice would make the world a better place, I ask you to consider the Drug War in Mexico right now. Every time we take out a Cartel kingpin, a vacuum of power is created and huge violent battles erupts. This has resulted in more than 40,000 killings in Mexico in the past 5 years. And we are he ones supplying the Cartels Arms and buying their drugs. These are large and complex systems of violence and corruption that plague Uganda, DRC, Sudan and South Sudan. From what I have read of these conflicts in the region, I am unconvinced very child soldiers will end or even get better with Kony out of the picture. This is the danger of oversimplification. Educate yourselves. Your good intentions are not infallible.

  88. I might or might not watch Russel’s Kony 2012. Having said that, I find some of Rosebell’s objections to Russel’s video a little untenable. I believe Russel or any one has the right to tell the Kony’s story. And it is within his right to tell it the way he wants to. And he can actually suit up his son and come and hunt down Kony. Yes, the tragedy is Ugandan, but the story of ‘suffering children’ is universal. Actually it does more good, I believe if it is told. I will hasten to added that the possible 100 million hits of a baised, ill-informed, Euro-centric narrative about a Ugandan problem is better than no narrative at all. The second problem I have with Rosebell is her milking the idea that the west is ignorant about Africa’s or Uganda’s problems, so it should shut up. By this very argument, Rosebell and the the rest of Ugandans from the central and southern part of the country who for twenty years were ‘sleeping’ did nothing, said nothing about the suffering of the children in northern Uganda have no right to talk. Lastly, this idea that the context has changed and therefore it should be factored in. Rosebell, thank you very much. Tell that new story like you have done. Let Russel tell the old story because it need to be told. I think as Unoka in Things Fall Apart would have put it: stories like a debt never rots or grows old. Let stories be told.

  89. Thank you for being open to educating us. I’m sorry that in 2014 this is still a relevent video. I hope to see us (white folks) be able to find better ways in talking about these types of issues. This video was very helpful in a paper I am writing right now, so thank you very much.

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