There has been an International Criminal Court warrant out for Kony’s arrest since 2005 and yet the international community has only erupted in condemnation now. My question is, why? Some suggest that the reason is the support the campaign has received from celebrities; “When they speak, the world listens,” campaigners say.
If you haven’t heard of Kony, then you probably don’t frequent the internet very often. This 30-minute clip has got more than 32 million views on YouTube and “Kony” has been plastered everywhere this week. It seems like everyone is getting involved, from my Auntie to Jay-Z.
It all started with a campaign by the Californian organisation Invisible Children. It has been revolutionary in the sense that it has proved how far social media can take an issue and turn it into a household name. Oprah, Kim Kardashian and Rihanna have all written about Kony in the last week.
In my opinion. the reason why the campaign has become so popular is because it requires no effort – you just have to click “share” or “retweet” and suddenly you are an activist, speaking out against these atrocities in Uganda. It makes us feel important and as though we are making a difference but we let other atrocities slip past us without feeling the need to get involved so I am still questioning what it is about this topic that people are so moved about. I have seen tweets of support from people I know have very little interest in world affairs and there is almost the sense that if you haven’t got involved in spreading the campaign then you are basically condoning Kony’s actions.
Evelyn Apoko, one of Joseph Kony’s victims, has condemned the focus on the man, instead of his victims. In some ways, I have to agree. Joseph Kony is only one man, and by focusing on him it suggests that if he were to spontaneously combust then the whole problem would disappear. This, of course, is not true. There is without doubt a whole network of people who have made Kony’s use of child soldiers possible.
I am not saying that the campaign doesn’t require our attention, it definitely does and I am in admiration of the organisation who has achieved such great awareness for an issue that was largely ignored in the past. However, does it say more about our willingness to affiliate ourselves with celebrity-endorsed campaigns that our genuine concern for the victims? Share your opinions in the comments!