By Tesi Uwibambe
On Tuesday, a panel consisting of both students and faculty met at the North Creek Events Center from 6 to 8 pm to discuss “Kony2012,” the recent mini-documentary aimed at making Joseph Kony infamous. The video went viral last March, causing widespread reaction.
The “Kony2012” campaign video was uploaded by Invisible Children, a nonprofit organization, last March. The film was narrated by the organization’s CEO, Ben Keesey, and takes viewers on his personal journey to awareness. The film was intended to draw attention to the crimes committed by Kony with the hope that the war criminal would we captured and tried for his actions.
The 30-minute you-tube video was moving and overwhelmed viewers with emotion, especially those who did not know about the war in Northern Uganda.
Following the Liberation War in 1983, Uganda was peaceful and focused on development, especially since former Presidents such as Idi Amin (who was portrayed by Forest Whitaker in “The Last King of Scotland”) and Milton Obote halted certain aspects of the country’s progress.
All was well until a man from Odek village decided it was his calling to wage war against the recently established and stable government of Uganda, in order to create a God-fearing nation. This man, Joseph Kony, became leader of the ironically named Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and induced the massacre and torture of tens of thousands of innocent Ugandans, raped women, kidnapped and brainwashed children to be gained as soldiers for his army.
Despite countless efforts by the Ugandan Army, aid from other nations’ military forces, and even peace talks, Kony is still at large roaming across the borders of Southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR).
While it is difficult to put into word two hours worth of intellectual discussion and sharing of ideas from a very learned and diverse group of panel members, I will do my best.
Beginning with the reception of the video, one of the panel members emphasized the rhetorical use of the video by college students and the interesting fact that, although it was not domestic, it was engaging for all and made people feel like they could do their part to help, therefore it was effective. One of the reasons it was so effective and generated strong emotional responses was the charming insertion of Keesey’s own son in the video, showing credibility. In addition Keesey captured emotions by inserting the tears and desires of Jacob, a survivor of the war.
When questioned if “Kony2012” represented Ugandans, Ben Wiselogle disagreed saying, “it’s economically hugely dangerous, and Uganda is doing well and was even named one of 2012’s best places to visit.” Wiselogle cited the Prime Minister of Uganda’s opinions of the video and the war, using him as a representation of Ugandans’ thoughts on the subject.
Being Ugandan, I am fortunate to be here receiving an education when numerous Ugandans like myself do not have the resources to do so. The “Kony2012” mini-documentary shed light on the war but also gave a simplistic view of the situation which creates a general thought of Uganda as a completely war-torn area.
I will not forget the comments from a UWB student saying, “It seems like a sad country with refugees everywhere; I would be happy to help but I wouldn’t go live there. It seems dangerous.”
This is one of the negative attributes of the video because no African country needs more negativity to befall their developmental progress. A large portion of the funds needed to rebuild Uganda has depended on tourism, which this video drastically affects. Due to the dark representation of the nation, people are more inclined to continue with thoughts of Africa being dangerous and devastating. I think that this video should have counter-balanced the negativity of the war with the positive rebuilding that has gone on over the past six years at a remarkable rate.
My own father, a man once part of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces aimed at hunting Kony down, said, “The video opened up closed wounds,” a view that sits with many Ugandans.
However, the unclear aspects of the video should not completely dismiss the cause and the importance of doing your part in society as well as the power of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, by the individual. All the panelists concurred that the negative reactions should neither reject the idea of taking action in whatever way possible, nor should it stop people from believing in other causes that spring about this way.
Today is Friday, April 20, 2012, a day when supporters of this cause are scheduled to “Cover the Night” in an effort to make Kony famous. I can only hope that the spirit of togetherness in creating awareness and reaching out to help those in need does not fade, and only continues as we fight for justice in the world.