14 Mar 2012

Ugandans respond angrily to Kony 2012 video

I’d made my opinion clear in my earlier (link) Kony 2012 post. IC is exploiting the plight of the people of Uganda for money, and the good they’re pretending to do for these people is actually harmful.

But let’s see what Ugandans themselves feel about this video and its message. Victor Ochen, victim of Kony’s LRA and founder of the African Youth Initiative Network nonprofit org, travelled to Lira in Uganda and set up a makeshift theater, screening IC’s Kony video.

More than 35,000 people saw the video. Some came on bikes from neighboring villages. Two million northern Uganda residents listened in on the video as it was broadcasted by radio stations. But they all had one thing in common: their dislike of the video.

This is what Al Jazeera reporter Malcolm Webb’s account of the happening:
People I spoke to anticipated seeing a video that showed the world the terrible atrocities that they had suffered during the conflict, and the ongoing struggles they still face trying to rebuild their lives after two lost decades.
The audience was at first puzzled to see the narrative lead by an American man – Jason Russell – and his young son.

Towards the end of the film, the mood turned more to anger at what many people saw as a foreign, inaccurate account that belittled and commercialised their suffering, as the film promotes Kony bracelets and other fundraising merchandise, with the aim of making Kony infamous.

The viewing caused such an outrage, Ochen has suspended further screenings, saying: “It was very hurtful for victims and their families to see posters, bracelets and t-shirts, all looking like a slick marketing campaign, promoting the person most responsible for their shattered lives.”

The audience went on to ask why Kony is the one receiving so much attention and fame, when it should be the victims of the war-ravaged communities, the real ones who need this attention, who receive this level of fame. And that’s something I totally agree with. And here's my favorite line from the video:

If people from these countries care about us, they will not wear t-shirts with pictures of Joseph Kony. That would celebrate our suffering.

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