Kony 2012, Part II and Beyond

8 April 2012 | marijnlizzy

9 April 2012

Last week Resolution:Possible attended the Frontline Club First Wednesday discussion ‘Kony 2012: A force for good?’. Panellists included Marieke Shomerus, Callum Macrae, Musa Okwonga, Benjamin Chesterton and Amanda Weisbaum.

You can watch the full panel discussion and read Frontline Club’s summary, but here are some of the key points made about the Kony 2012 film, campaign and the situation itself.

Kony 2012 (source unknown)

Benjamin Chesterton, radio documentary and photofilm producer, thought the film couldn’t be expected to cover the complexities of the situation saying we don’t all have PhDs, and that surely getting people inspired to do something had to be a good thing. He also pointed out controversial storytelling by other NGOs and said more should be done to hold organisations to account.

Musa Okwonga, blogger, poet and musician originally from northern Uganda, rejected the excuse that people cannot understand complex narratives, reminding us that even children can grasp the complex plots of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. He suggested that presenting Kony in a film without mentioning Museveni was like Lord of the Rings where the hobbits don’t have hairy feet.

Amanda Weisbaum, Programmes Director at War Child UK, would have loved the 100 million hits, like any NGO trying to get attention on serious issues would, but felt that the film presented a scenario where the arrest of Kony would mark the end to all conflict in the region and the children would live happily ever after. If only, she said.

Marieke Shomerus, who has researched the situation for many years and has met Kony, expressed her concerns about the film’s simplicity, saying that the narrative was misleading and the actions it advocates are misdirected and potentially dangerous. When asked by the audience she said she would rather the film had never been made, despite the coverage and debate it has encouraged, because of security concerns for civilians. Of the many young people inspired to take the campaign’s actions she said, ‘to what end?’

With the focus of the film and the Kony 2012 campaign on a military solution, Resolution:Possible wanted to ask these experts what they thought of other possible solutions, such as peace negotiations (watch Nella’s exchange with the panel from 25 minutes in on the video).

Callum Macrae,  filmmaker and journalist who has reported on the LRA for many years, highlighted the importance of traditions of reconciliation including mato oput in rebuilding the societies affected by the conflict, though he said these were not solutions to the conflict itself.

Joseph Kony during peace talks (AP Photo)

He also stressed that although the Juba peace talks were flawed, ‘the fact is that while those peace talks stumbled on, the level of death and the level of killing and the level of horror was dramatically, dramatically reduced, and people started returning home, and there was a transformation in atmosphere in the area. And the military intervention launched preemptively, with the support of America, by Uganda and the so-called support of southern Sudan and the CAR, was what destroyed that process. It was catastrophic, and it was responsible for the situation we have just now, it was responsible for the scattering of the LRA. It’s not just that they’re ignoring the potential of the peace talks, it’s that those peace talks were something, and they were destroyed.’

 

UPDF hunts LRA (source unknown)

ICC Chief Prosecutor (UN Multimedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The very next day Invisible Children released ‘Kony 2012 Part II: Beyond Famous’. It was good to see the organisation respond to some of the criticisms of the original film and release a second which looked at some of the wider context of the conflict. There was input from local people including partners of Invisible Children’s programmes on the ground, and the film outlined previous attempts at bringing an end to the conflict including the Juba Peace Talks, and the US backed Operation Lighting Thunder.

Even this film leaves the hobbits without their hairy feet, however, as crucial details remain left out including the Ugandan government’s questionable commitment to peace, Museveni’s policy of discrimination in northern Uganda, the UPDF’s own history of abuses, and the role of the ICC arrest warrants and US-backed military intervention in blocking peace efforts.

President Museveni and President Obama (Uganda Media Centre)

US military advisor with UPDF soldiers (New Vision)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The idea of a global community protecting each other, as promoted by Kony 2012, is something that Resolution:Possible supports entirely. We believe this protection can only be achieved through informed, transparent analysis of all the facts, with decisions made as much as possible by the people directly affected and with their best interests at heart.

Resolution:Possible are continually working to build the narrative on our website, sharing many different resources about the conflict. We don’t want to you take our word for anything – keep researching for yourself and thinking critically. If you find something you think we are missing, please get in touch.

Crisis in the Central African Republic (UNHCR)

 

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