08 March, 2012

Let's Talk About Kony (Not Just Another Video Post)

I'm sure every single one of you has by now seen the Kony video by Invisible Children that has gone viral in the past few days.

I'm going to take this opportunity to divert from the usual "fluffy" content of this blog to write my thoughts on this.

First, let me start by saying that I co-own a non-profit organization (called Aid the Nations ) which centers around building schools and developing educational, financial and social opportunities for the people of Uganda. We were inspired to start our non-profit after attending an Invisible Children event (and opening a Chicago branch afterward).

Since our inception three years ago, we've built a school in Kampala, and have developed the beginnings of an infrastructure which we hope will one day allow former child soldiers and their families (victims of the LRA) to live a prosperous and independent life.

Our biggest roadblock has been funding, a setback due largely to public ignorance. As Jessi so aptly wrote in her post, "if yesterday was the first time that you had ever heard about Kony and the LRA, then frankly, you've had your head in the sand. And you've had it there for almost 30 years".

I'm also currently pursuing my PhD, in the field of genocide studies. I never cease to be amazed by people's ignorance regarding events that transpire outside their immediate realm of understanding.

Of course, there are those who support the video and have also known about the issue for quite a while. But I can guarantee that percentage, when compared to those who are just learning about this issue, is extremely low.

The Kony video is a positive tool for spreading the word for those that may not have otherwise taken the time to educate themselves on Ugandan politics. But you shouldn't take the facts in it for granted (though they are true) - learn them for yourself.

In short, understanding an issue and making an impact doesn't end with simply circulating a video like everyone else. It may begin with a video, but then it must continue with education, with going after the facts and gaining a rounded awareness of an issue.

So, please, don't stop with just posting a video. Educate yourself. Don't let your interest wane. 


Malin said...

Genocide studies? How awesome!!
Anyways, I just wanted to say that, though I did share the Kony video (and I did know about the issue beforehand), we must also be careful. Articles like this explain it better than I can: http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/03/07/guest_post_joseph_kony_is_not_in_uganda_and_other_complicated_things#.T1n65DR8f8U.facebook

And what this one says is a little worrying... http://thinkafricapress.com/uganda/kony2012-has-taken-possibility-reconciliation-table

Kelly said...

I completely agree. While the video is an awesome way to spread the word, simply re posting it on facebook doesn't do anything. "Awareness" only gets us so far - the people who are blindly pasting it into their social networks are doing a disservice by not educating themselves. While most of the facts in the video are true, several claims are overstated or completely missing (like how Kony is not in Uganda, and how the Ugandan government has also used child soldiers). I think Kony did a wonderful job of creating a video that resignates with people, but we, as citizens of the world, need to reach out and learn for ourselves.

I think your PhD program is wonderful - you are far more equipped to talk about this than most of us, so thank you for sharing!