Uganda in the 1980's was experiencing the worst combination of stereotypes found in Third World wars. The presidency of Tito Okello, an Acholi, was being challenged in a civil war which had major tribal undertones. When Okello lost, a long brewing power struggle erupted in the Acholi between the Anglican and Catholic Churches on one hand and pentecostal, independent religious-tribal leaders (sort of like the religious-fueled violence in Central America). One of the leaders to emerge from this power struggle was Joseph Kony, an Acholi who sought to purify his tribe through his own unique interpretation of the Ten Commandments. From the mid-1980s up to today Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has engaged in murder, genocide, slavery, kidnapping, child solidery, drug smuggling, and cannibalism.
Recently, Invisible Children started the #Kony2012 campaign in an effort to raise awareness of Kony and the LRA. Let me say mission success, congratulations.
There are some other notes I would like to make about the effort.
First off, Kony is no longer in Uganda. This is because the various central African militiaries are running his group into the ground and have made the LRA a shadow of its former self. The United States has even become overtly involved with President Obama sending in official military advisers to aid in operations against the LRA starting in late 2011. Examining the LRA Crisis Tracker, first featured on the blog last October, shows the group is now active in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Central African Republic. Uganda is now mostly at peace because of the great efforts being done against Kony. You may have never of heard of Kony, but all the right people have.
|You may have to click to zoom in to see but notice how there are no 2012 reports of LRA activity in Uganda|
For all his crimes Kony will most probably die, so do not believe the claims that supporting anti-Kony operations will bring him to trial. I have met several self-declared ex-military advisers, contractors, and even "offensive private military contractors" (i.e. mercenaries) who have told me that since the mid-2000s the United States and United Nations have been aiding Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, and what became South Sudan in their effort to destroy the LRA with Kony being killed on the battlefield. They all have assured me that he will never allow himself to be taken alive and the various African militaries want to kill him.
Finally, there has been some criticism of Invisible Children as a charity. I wish to point out that it is an advocacy group first and after that a charity. It has a fairly good rating from Charity Navigator to boot.
Much of the reasonable criticism of the campaign focus on how the movie gives the feeling that the LRA is still a massive threat, that nothing is being done to stop them, and there are even worse threats out there that being ignored for the most part. This is true: the Taliban are on the rise, Kashmir remains a killing ground, and Boko Haram is unleashing a new Jihad on Nigeria's Christians. However, #Kony2012 has done a great job at promoting public awareness, on that end it should be praised. Now let us expand the effort and stop these other groups as well.