A senior Roman Catholic bishop in the Central African Republic is warning that the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel force that killed more than 100,000 people in northern Uganda in the 1980s and ’90s, is rising up again in his country. Bishop Nestor Desire Nongo-Aziagbia said the LRA, led by self-declared prophet Joseph Kony, has become one of the biggest threats to peace in his country and in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
A campaign to arrest an African warlord generated awareness in more ways than the effort’s co-founder Jason Russell could have ever imagined.
The “Kony 2012″ campaign captured widespread attention for its push to arrest Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which abducts and forces children to become soldiers. For a grass-roots video project that suddenly went viral, it was a phenomenal success.
Two weeks after the group Invisible Children released the video last year, Russell, the group’s co-founder, was detained and hospitalized for erratic behavior after he was found running naked and cursing the devil in the streets of San Diego.
Angélique Namaika, a Roman Catholic nun, rides a bicycle on the rutted roads of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s northeastern province of Orientale, which is plagued by rebel violence.
On these same roads, the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Christian rebel group led by Joseph Kony, a self-proclaimed prophet of God, has been killing, abducting, and mutilating women and children.
But none of that has deterred Sister Namaika from helping displaced women learn trades, start small businesses, and go to school.
George Clooney and others were arrested on the steps of the Sudanese embassy last week to call attention to the violence in South Sudan. The actor-activist, along with Jon Prendergast, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations committee and conducted a series of media interviews to explain the situation in South Sudan, the world’s newest nation.
I applaud Clooney for using his star power to shine a light on the violence in South Sudan. Now that we see the problem the question for us is: what does this situation require of me personally?
Similarly, when we watch the Kony 2012 video that, for all of its flaws, informs people about the crimes against humanity of Joseph Kony and the efforts to bring him to justice, the same question arises.
The world is full to the brim with tragedy. We see the violence in Syria, people protesting their government are killed by their own government. We see world leaders who cannot come to consensus about the right thing to do.
What action will at once end the violence, protect the people, and depose an illegitimate government while not increasing violence in a complicated and volatile region of the world?
"Mainly it seems the media is just annoyed that it took this guy to get people to listen...'I mean, we're handsome, we're on TV. Why won't Rhianna retweet our stories on Kony?'"
“Having just been in Gulu with Edun and Jolly, this is particularly pertinent for me … Spreading like wildfire, and sparking a heated, fascinating, much needed debate, this is brilliant campaigning. Not only does the public now know about Kony and his most despicable atrocities, they also know what a huge range of experts think about it, even if they all don’t agree. I salute a strategy that generates this much interest if it¹s targeted towards lasting meaningful solutions owned and directed by the people of the region on their journey from the trauma of these atrocities towards stability and development. Is there an Oscar for this kind of direction? Jason Russell deserves it.”
“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
So begins the Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 video that recently went viral. And yet, I would perhaps change this opening quote to say something like, “Nothing is more powerful than the stories by which we construct our identities,” because these stories determine who you believe you are and how you believe you can engage in the world and with others.
Powerful. Potentially dangerous. Always in some way failing in it’s accuracy and exclusive to someone else. Even with our best intentions.
Invisible Children released a short film Wednesday with the aim to make Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, famous--not for acclaim, but to bring awareness to his alleged crimes in abducting children and forcing them to be child soldiers.
According to the YouTube video, "KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice."
"It's obvious that Kony should be stopped. The problem is that 99 percent of the planet doesn't know who he is. If they knew, Kony would have been stopped long ago," the half-hour film narrates.
My alarm went off at 5 a.m. today. As I sat up and unzipped my sleeping bag, a gust of Oklahoma wind bitterly ushered me into a new day. Drops of rain splashed my face, extinguishing the last few embers of my sleepiness.