March 8, 2012; Christian Science Monitor
Yesterday NPQ took note of Invisible Children’s impressive campaign to raise awareness of the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, including a viral video which has over 50 million views. Clearly Invisible Children has been successful in spreading their message through online activism, but in this initiative, are they disempowering the role of Africans?
The Christian Science Monitor commends Invisible Children for their efforts, but is critical of the organization’s approach, which aims the campaign at a Western audience. Other African leaders are also not happy with Invisible Children’s approach, stating it lacks any insight into the culture of Uganda and neighboring countries who have dealt with these tragedies for decades. Activist Solome Lemma notes:
Simply, a long socioeconomic and political conflict that has lasted 25+ years and engaged multiple states and actors has been reduced to a story of the good vs. bad guy. And if a three-year-old can understand it, so can you. You don’t have to learn anything about the children, Uganda, or Africa. You just have to make calls, put up flyers, sings songs, and you will liberate a poor, forgotten, and invisible people.
Although social media is a great outlet to raise awareness fast and globally, the Christian Science Monitor compares Kony 2012 to other advocacy efforts in the past such as Save Darfur. This approach can give off the stereotypical appearance of Western “white saviors” swooping in to “save the poor Africans.” In order for Invisible Children to become more than just a viral video, the organization must strive to collaborate with Ugandan activists and seek partnerships with African organizations. –Aine Creedon