Thursday, 8 March 2012

Uganda: What is Kony 2012?

Showcasing the power of the Facebook generation,  the savvy online campaign to catch Joseph Kony is rapidly going viral through social media.

Kony 2012 is on one level a worthy cause, lobbying US politicians and celebrities, with a clear but simplistic goal: catch Kony in 2012.

Its video has already enjoyed millions of views and facebook "likes", and generated hundreds of thousands of tweets via #StopKony and other associated hashtag traffic.

Here's the video; it's half an hour long, slickly produced, and (like it or not) a work of web marketing art.


Invisible Children, the NGO behind the video, is the target of criticism for being a polished PR machine but less efficient as a charity: spending more on salaries and campaigns than giving.

The campaign is also focused on US politicians and celebrities, rather than influencing African leaders, and is marketed towards a US and Western audience (cute kids and snappy editing).

The timing of the campaign has also come under attackKony has (I have recently become aware) been terrorising northern Uganda for years. However, it's being suggested that he's on the run outside Uganda already, and only a bit-part player in broader problems.

Last year President Obama sent about 100 US military troops (mostly special forces) to advise and  assist local security forces in capturing him and to combat the raids of his newly famous Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

The legacy of Kony 2012 will only be knowable months or years from now: how will the campaign be remembered; will Kony be captured; and if so, did it have much to do with some slick social media marketeers in California?


  1. Well, this one certainly fizzled, and I'm guessing we can already say how it will be remembered...
    "Man behind ‘Kony 2012’ arrested – for masturbating in public"

  2. The BBC's Panorama programme has reported on the hunt to bring Kony to justice, highlighting the seriousness of the issue, whatever reservations about the "Kony 2012" campaign.