#StopKony... or should we?!

On March 5th, 2012, a non-profit, advocacy group uploaded a video to YouTube. Days later, the video received over 1 Million views, and a couple of weeks later, it had 10's of millions of views!

Invisible Children, Inc. (founded in 2006, by American filmmakers Bobby Bailey, Laren Poole and Jason Russell), filmed, edited and produced the aforementioned video, titled Kony 2012, which is a modern-day, political campaign calling for the arrest and persecution of Joseph Kony (leader of Africa's Lord's Resistance Army, in Uganda). The film admonishes viewers to join the increasingly popular #StopKony movement, but upon closer examination of what was being presented, I felt a reaction -opposite- to what the filmmakers proposed; I was prompted to 'dig a 'lil deeper' and not just blindly (read: blithely) accept what was being purported.
* Video (KONY 2012):
"Nothing is more powerful than an idea," states the video's opening sequence, and minutes later -into the film- Russell (as narrator), says it's all, "an experiment," and that, "in order for it to work, you have to pay attention." With that being said, what if the purpose of the video, is to plant the 'idea' of Kony as a bad-man, into the minds of millions of people around the world? ICI's official statement on the issue reads, "Since 1987, Joseph Kony has abducted more than 30,000 children in Central Africa and forced them to be child soldiers in his Lord's Resistance Army. The KONY 2012 campaign employs film, social media, street art, and face-to-face interaction to make the case that the arrest of Joseph Kony this year is one thing we can all agree on."

However, a less sophisticated video (utilizing an old-school, journalistic approach), produced by British film company, Journey Man Pictures, documents Kony, UP-CLOSE-AND-IN-PERSON... without any hint of danger surrounding him. Journey Man's video follows a reporter interviewing Kony and select LRA members, covertly traversing the Ugandan landscape. Touted as the only interview Kony's ever done, the reporter and film crew are granted carte blanche access to Kony, receiving confessionals from a man who is admired by his comrades, a group that appears to be reserved and non-threatening. Although it was filmed in 2006, the Journey Man video was released to the public (read: uploaded to YouTube), on March 8th, 2012; three days after ICI's Kony video was uploaded.

* Video (Exclusive interview with Joseph Kony):

Certainly, Kony sits atop the International Criminal Court's most-wanted list, and has been accused of more than 20 crimes involving his militia, either within and/or around Ugandan borders. Nevertheless, Kony says these alleged war crimes are all, "propaganda," and that the LRA has, "never been involved," in any such activity. "I'm not guilty," says Kony, he's "fighting for democracy." In addition, the Central Intelligence Agency lists the LRA as a "political pressure group," but also indicated, "350,000 internally displaced persons returned [to Uganda] in 2006 following ongoing peace talks between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda," in 2007.

In general, National Geographic reports that Uganda, "a landlocked country in East Africa; savanna plateau with mountains and lakes," was once considered, "The pearl of Africa," by Winston Churchill. The country also has, "...substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, and sizable mineral deposits of copper and cobalt [and] has largely untapped reserves of both crude oil and natural gas," according to Wikipedia.

Given this situation, Uganda might -now- be a land that is ripe for commercial opportunity and may be targeted for exploitation, helped along by the sudden, international interest in Kony. Consequently, soon after ICI's and JM's videos were posted, several, other counter-videos surfaced, most notably from the people of Uganda, who have begun to speak out in opposition of the Ugandan government and the #StopKony movement.

Following this further, results from Uganda's last, presidential election (held in February 2011), show that Yoweri Kaguta Museveni won against lead opponent, Dr. Kizza Besigye (Museveni's former physician), thus granting Museveni another four to his already 25-year-reign as Uganda's president, since 1986. Moreover, Besigye, has been arrested, jailed and chastised, several times -since 2001- for running against Museveni and publicly challenging the unilateral, 'no-party' political system advanced by Museveni. Oddly enough, Museveni (who gained control of Uganda, after the fall of Idi Amin), has seemingly become a shadow of the notorious Amin and has helped the country to receive a 'very corrupt' rating, by Transparency International (the global coalition against corruption); 80.8% of Ugandan authoritative institutions are found to be corrupt (TI, index report. 2011). Undoubtedly, these are just a few of the many issues that Kony and other Ugandans have highlighted on film.

Indeed, it is hard to determine if we -or anyone- should be stopping Kony, and if so, what for?! Clearly, Ugandan officials did not detain him or LRA members, amidst their presence of peace talks a few years ago, even after the ICC's issuance of arrest warrants on July 8th, 2005! Lastly, for those of us who are neither on-the-ground in Uganda, nor in the purported war zones, we are left, only to speculate, and without much knowledge of the hardcore facts (read: real evidence), it can be more comfortable to side with an idea, or something/anything that draws on our emotions because it sounds right or is visually appealing/finely-packaged; as of yet, ICI's #StopKony video has received 87,280,690 views, while Journey Man's Kony interview has received 219,724 views... Who's Telling The Truth?!

www.google.com, www.nationalgeogrpahic.com, en.wikipedia.org, www.cia.gov, www.invisiblechildren.com, www.kony2012.com, www.transparency.org, www.journeyman.tv, www.youtube.com (invisiblechildreninc/journeymanpictures), www.icc-cpi.int

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