March 15th, 2012
09:57 AM ET

Kony 2012 flops in Uganda

Editor's Note: The following text is from GlobalPost, which provides excellent coverage of world news – importantmoving and just odd.

By , GlobalPost

Kony 2012 may have received more than 73 million hits on YouTube since its release on the internet on March 5. But in Uganda it is a flop. Top Ugandan officials denounce the video — created to raise awareness about Joseph Kony, the leader of the brutal Lord's Resistance Army operating in central Africa — as false. Kony's LRA, they say, has not operated in Uganda for years.

Other Ugandans slam the video as the work of privileged young foreigners. Critics around the world have been vociferous, too. But most Ugandans have not even seen the Kony 2012 video, produced by the American NGO Invisible Children, because the internet is not widely accessible.

Among those who haven't seen it, but are still outspokenly critical is Pius Bigirimana, who is in charge of the reconstruction of northern Uganda from the devastation of the LRA.

“Anybody portraying Uganda to still have insecurity is a sadist. That person is a liar and is peddling falsehoods,” said Bigirimana.

More from GlobalPost: Out of nowhere, Kony 2012 goes viral

In Uganda, Kony “is of no consequence. He is a peripheral issue,” said Bigirimana, the permanent secretary in the prime minister's office. “It’s some of these people from outside who get excited over these things.”

Many have criticized the campaign for misrepresenting the situation in Uganda, implying that conflict with the LRA is still being fought.

President Yoweri Museveni's government urged “that any awareness campaign fully takes into consideration the current realities of the situation.”

“Misinterpretations of media content may lead some people to believe that the LRA is currently active in Uganda. It must be clarified that at present the LRA is not active in any part of Uganda,” said the government statement.

The Lord’s Resistance Army was expelled from Uganda six years ago and has been reduced to a force of about 300 fighters now operating in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and the Central African Republic (CAR), the government statement said.

The LRA is currently being pursued by the Ugandan army with the support of 100 US military advisors deployed late last year. US President Barack Obama sent the team last year to help hunt Kony and the LRA to achieve stability in the volatile region. Commitment by Ugandan and Congo militaries is crucial to stopping Kony's mobile militias, according to the International Crisis Group.

Betty Ocan, a member of parliament for the town of Gulu, where Invisible Children bases its operations in Uganda, said she had only seen a short clip of the film on international television news.

The LRA is no longer high on her constituents’ agenda, she said.

“For the people of northern Uganda, it’s not so much a priority,” Ocan said. “Most of the time, the people will say, ‘The most pressing thing for us right now is that we want our children to go to school.’”

More from GlobalPost: 4 things you can do to stop Joseph Kony

Ugandans displaced by the war against Kony's LRA are also worried about resettlement and getting compensation from the government for property lost, Ocan said.

For the people of northern Uganda who suffered because of the LRA’s violence, the film is a historical document, according to Ocan.

“The people of northern Uganda know that this was just a documentary which was taken during the bad times,” said the member of parliament. “Some people say that it reminds them of the past, so they do not like it so much.”

“If (Westerners) watch it, they should think about the impact (of the war). They are watching something that is past. Kony has not made it back to Uganda since 2006.”

Despite the fact that Kony is no longer a factor in Uganda, Ocan added that the people of northern Uganda remain concerned for the welfare of populations where the militia is still active.

“We feel bad if the people of (other countries) are suffering because of Kony. We don’t want people to suffer.”

The film, which features extensive footage of Invisible Children’s founder and other — mostly white — activists campaigning against the LRA in the United States, has also been criticized as neo-colonialist.

More from GlobalPost: Designers of Kony 2012 campaign respond to criticism

“If a film comes along and successfully empowers foreigners, many of them young people, to claim the right to do as they please in Africa — whether it is worthy or not — I can see why (Africans) would take offense,” said Angelo Izama, an award-winning journalist and Ugandan political analyst.

“It’s an unvarnished reminder that outsiders still have more power to change things if they choose,” Izama said.

Invisible Children has posted a statement in reply to critics on its website. In response to the charge that the film suggests the war is still ongoing in Uganda the group emphasizes its work in countries where the LRA is currently active.

“Since the LRA left Uganda in 2006, Invisible Children has been publicly denouncing their atrocities in DR Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic (CAR), while continuing to work with now-peaceful communities in post-conflict northern Uganda,” reads the statement.

“KONY 2012 portrays, in no uncertain terms, the image of a madman who manipulates children spiritually for his own tactical gains,” the group’s website states. “In a 30-minute film, however, many nuances of the 26-year conflict are admittedly lost or overlooked.”

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Topics: Africa

soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. Lindsay


    March 15, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Reply
  2. Laughing

    Point to me where Uganda on the map of Africa to those so informed and know it all.

    March 15, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Reply
    • Jess

      I can point to it on a map, thank you very much. I couldn't before this campaign, but I can now. That's one of the reasons I like Invisible Children, they are inspiring people, including myself, to become aware and informed of important world issues. I never used to frequent, but I do now because I've realised it's actually very interesting to know about what's going on in the world. I used to think politics were boring.

      March 16, 2012 at 1:35 am | Reply
      • Pravda13

        I am so glad about your desire to read up more Jess! That is excellent. The thing is for so many of us who have been aware of this issue from the beginning are disgusted an organization would use old footage to try to get people to join a campaign that was resolved in 2006. They even used false numbers regarding the size of the LRA which is truly 300 scattered ex child soldiers. The countries mentioned are now in the stage of recovering and attention and money needs to be given to organizations directly working with these people. BBC is also a great world news resource.

        March 17, 2012 at 1:48 am |
  3. european

    why kony is still alive why why why

    March 16, 2012 at 12:08 am | Reply
  4. Benedict

    The purpose behind the video may be genuine,but the facts of what they want to portray are out of sync with the reality on ground. Thus, i would advise anybody else who wants to make videos that wish to highlight social issues should make sure that what they say is what is happening in prime time!!

    March 16, 2012 at 6:25 am | Reply
  5. shadowgovt

    kony2012 is misleading govt backed and sponsored lies, kony hasn't been in uganda for years and recently they found massive oil reserves in uganda rivaling those of saudi arabia. govt knows they cant use no more bs excuses to occupy and invade other countries so they have turned into manipulation and mind washing of dumbed down american public which does not use reason but emotions to make decisions.

    March 16, 2012 at 7:48 am | Reply
  6. jack

    It's just an internet meme and a troll tactic now, no one cares

    March 16, 2012 at 7:52 am | Reply
    • Jess

      That would be incorrect, a lot of people care. and that's a good thing. I'd rather people care about something like this, than care about how big Kim Kardashian's butt looks in that dress.

      March 16, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Reply
  7. skb8721

    I don't know on what evidence some of you base your claim that this is a scan or a money-making endeavor: The organization's budget is available for examination online, and less than 16% of its revenue goes to salaries and that sort of thing. In other words, 84% goes toward the organization's programs, and the largest chunk of that 84% goes toward programs in Central Africa.

    March 16, 2012 at 10:52 am | Reply
    • Jess

      People are just looking for reasons to be pessimistic. nothing more.

      March 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Reply
      • Pravda13

        Or we could be people who worked for years on the issue trying to shed some truth to IC's campaign.

        March 17, 2012 at 1:52 am |
  8. Bla

    It was an internet fad to start with and that's all anyone should treat it as. At least the Ugandans know what it really is.

    March 16, 2012 at 11:41 am | Reply
  9. TLE

    Bravo!!! Make KONY famous! Keep talking, even if you hate the idea, thats exactly what the video wants. Wether you want to become part of the movement or not, you are. It starts with a video, creates a controversy, and brings KONY to the forefront. Basically KONY needs to be stopped and made to pay for his crimes against humanity! It's just like a nagging bill collector, eventually you have to go bankrupt or pay it. It doesn't disappear, and neither will this issue! The more we talk about him, the higher the likelyhood that the governments of this world will catch him, or kill him, just to shut us up! So keep talking! Not only is it entertaining, but also productive! Peace!

    March 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Reply
    • Pravda13

      The talk is good because people will hopefully learn to research organizations, read the news, and know what is happening in our world so when false campaigns like this rise again, people will not be misled.

      March 17, 2012 at 1:53 am | Reply
  10. Lucifer

    Too bad AMERICOM' propaganda wasn't bought by the masses, looks like people are not as dumb as govts think. Good for you Africans, protect that oil for as long as you can. (amongst other resources)


    March 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  11. cassidy

    i think that cnn should give daily or weekly updates on whats happening with kony.most people dont know him but ounce we make him famous he will be known by the middle of the year and be arrested before 2013.what he starts to move to where we live and takes kids?well thankyou.

    March 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Reply
  12. Amazing

    On April 20, I am going to get naked, jacked up on drugs and masterbate in public like the creator of PHONEY 2012. Can you give me money?

    March 17, 2012 at 9:35 am | Reply
  13. David

    I'm sick of how people are so ignorant that they latch on to some MEDIA "Issue of the week" and act like they are doing something by sharing it on Facebook, then posting comments like they are awesome "couch" activists. Every year six million children die from malnutrition before their fifth birthday in Africa. Get off of your butts and do something about THAT!

    Go ahead and post this video, keep people aware, but for God's sake, don't give this SCAM charity a DIME (unless you want to buy a tee shirt to show what an awesome GIVER you are) – it's funding their party lifestyles, you idiots. Give the money to charities that actually DO SOMETHING!!!!

    Anybody who posts an OPINION on how important this thing is needs to be strapped down and forced to watch a video of an Ethiopian child dying of hunger. Of course, if it doesn't fit the "look at how involved I am" tee shirt to prove how awesome I am club, you probably will forget about it the moment you are let up.

    Bunch of posers and phonies you faketivists are.

    March 17, 2012 at 10:54 am | Reply
    • GeorgeBush XII

      With the money that bankers and and politicians have been making or stealing however you want to look at it, could have fed and educated every man, woman and child. There is no reason for anyone to be living in poverty. It is orchestrated that way, Poor to middle class is govt enemy #1. It's called Eugenics and you are all expendable in the eyes of your govts, and monarchs. That is why they test on you, because you allow it, and because PUBLIC LAW allows them too. LOL What a world we live in.

      March 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  14. 15 usa soldiers ra pe 2 afgani women before killing them

    the afgani investigation and the international lab proved now that 15 usa soldiers was involved of killing more than 16 children and women, and that 15 soldiers ra pe 2 afgani ladies young ladies ra pe them repeatdley and then shot them dead and burned there bodies , exactley as it happened in iraq when usa soldiers ra ped 14 years old girl then shot her and shot her parents and brothers and burned there bodies ...usa did that in vitnam ,korea and many other places they are murderous thugs ra piest killers and OBAMA say soyy all the time!!?/while leaving evil iranians and evil syrian bashar al asad killing more civilians obama is a cowered president if obama want to fix this problem he must attack syria now and remove bashar al asad to show to the muslim world that he mean it, remove the evil in syria now and prove your point OBAMA.......why you are silent...SILENCE IS A CRIME.

    March 17, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Reply
  15. Bradly Hunter

    America! Africa wants investment , a level economic playing field, and respect, more than aid and charity these days. They are increasingly tired of negative headlines that has to do with them. In Africa America is still well admired, but our focus on their failures and lack there of when there is success is pushing them into the friendship with Asia instead of America. We will lose an entire region of allies if they feel it will forever cost them their image to be our friend. I bet know body knows there is a middle income country with relative success just to the north of South Africa. By the way South Africa isn't too bad either.

    March 17, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Reply
  16. kony

    March 19, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Reply
  17. Common sense

    Just watch, those Kony wristbands will end up being the mark of the devil. Thank god I didn't fall for this ponzi scheme.

    March 27, 2012 at 5:16 am | Reply
  18. Vanessa

    I understand all of your frustration. But what good is it to sit around complain about the video? Have you guys done anything to help Uganda or stop Kony from spreading more evil? I think the video is a good start to helping spread awareness on the issue. I don't think the video would have been made if Kony was no longer a problem or threat to Uganda. There are some questionable things about the money that has gone into it.. but money is also needed in order to advertise for something. Try and see the good in the organization and the video it put out.

    March 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Reply
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