By now you’ve probably seen the Kony 2012 video circulating the social networks. We posted it this morning, and I’ve seen tweets and Facebook posts about the film throughout my timeline. Celebs have jumped on the bandwagon and in just days, the video has already reached millions, but is it the real story? Or it the film and the Invisible Children organization yet another case of what many call “White Savior Syndrome”?
You’ve seen it before. Worthy causes only become noteworthy once white folks step in to champion it, never mind the black and brown people who have worked in the trenches to bring many of our world’s social ills to light. Somehow, people only sit up and take notice once a predominately white org or white celeb take up the case. Why is that?
This is the exact question being debated over on AfriPop, a blog about African art and culture. While Joseph Kony is indeed an evil man (we wrote about him last year), why is the plight of the Ugandian people just NOW coming to light even though he is apparently no longer involved in Uganda or its politics?
I’ll let Luso Mnthali of AfriPop explain:
At this point, you must know Kony is one hideous, hideous man. No question. And anybody would want to stop him. Yet the timing of this IC campaign is suspicious – why on earth does the IC lead saviour campaigner, former child soldier Jacob’s best friend in the whole world, not explain that Kony is no longer involved in Uganda, and that no one knows where he is? Why is the IC funding the Ugandan military, and how are we even going to sit here through the days of AFRICOM and pretend like the US government and its army are simply ‘advisers’? Why does this campaign look like only Americans can save Ugandans/Africans, when meanwhile Ugandans have been saving and helping themselves for many years? Completely nuts.
Crazy in that this hipster almost all-white movement’s axis point, the video that went viral in a day, comes at a crucial time in American politics. A time when the questions asked by some are why neo-colonialist assumptions about the rightness of aid and awareness are no longer finding easy answers. And as Africans we are asking ourselves why now? Before any of you get excited, or don’t, for whatever reason, there are some very real points to take into consideration. From a Ugandan’s perspective like Musa Okwonga’s (he has family ties to the region in question) to Solomme Lemma’s take on this campaign, there are some very strong points to be made about why supporting the Kony2012 campaign is the wrong idea.
In today’s instant news age, stories travel around the globe in a matter of minutes. And while we have a tendency to want to help out once we hear of some terrible injustice going on, how many of us actually stop and think critically about all of the factors in play?
While this KONY film will be sure to raise a shitload of cash for those involved, how much of that will actually funnel back to the people who need it most?