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GC Blog

Kony 2012

Surely, you’ve seen it by now. Within the first 72 hours since its release last week, Kony 2012, the latest video from the non-profit Invisible Children, garnered more than 38.6 million views on Youtube and Vimeo. As of today, it’s on its way to becoming one of the most successful viral videos of all time.

What’s almost as equally remarkable is how Kony 2012 ushered a nearly 30-year-old issue into the constant chatter of today’s social media sites. Almost overnight, the reign of terror perpetrated by Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) across northern Uganda became a pressing concern for millions of (mostly young) Americans, and the grassroots outcry began.

With equal swiftness, the foreign policy wonks erupted, with a chorus of charges ranging from oversimplification of a complex issue to outright fraud in how Invisible Children spends money. While I do agree with many of their concerns, some very well-written critiques came across as, well, just plain mean.

Isn’t raising awareness about this issue a good thing? Personally, I think so. As an advocate, I think their work is impressive -- they went straight to their target audience, started a conversation and galvanized an immediate result. With the flap over the video persisting, Invisible Children is now hustling to get its fundraising ducks in a row, and some folks are indeed coming to their defense.

Having worked extensively in developing countries, including northern Uganda, my lingering concern is that this is also a massive missed opportunity. With so much attention finally focused on a forgotten place, I just wish they had raised other life or death issues as well -- like the fact that more children die of malaria, diarrhea, and other preventable diseases than ever did from Kony’s awful killings.

Shouldn’t that also weigh on our collective conscience? Where’s the video for those children, or a global campaign to stop those senseless deaths that are still occurring every single day?

Hopefully, they are yet to come…