Church of Uganda questions accuracy of Kony 2012 video: The Church of England Newspaper, March 30, 2012, p 6. April 3, 2012Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Uganda.
Tags: Henry Orombi, Invisibile Children, Joseph Kony, Kony 2012
The social media campaign to focus the world’s attention on Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army may be well meaning, but misrepresents the facts on the ground, the Church of Uganda said last week.
In a statement released on 15 March 2012, the Church of Uganda said the Kony 2012 video released by the California-based nonprofit Invisible Children paints an out dated picture of Uganda. Joseph Kony and the LRA “left Uganda in 2006 at the beginning of the Juba peace talks and haven’t been in Uganda for more than five years,” Canon Alison Barfoot said.
“Since then, the people of Northern Uganda have been returning to their homes and have begun the long and difficult process of healing and rebuilding their lives, their families, and their communities. The Church of Uganda has been deeply involved in that process at every level. While there are the normal challenges of any country, Uganda is a country at peace, working hard on development, and takes pride in its description as the ‘Pearl of Africa’.”
The situation was not as simple as described. The Church of Uganda “has consistently advocated for peaceful means of conflict resolution,” Canon Barfoot said, noting that in a January 2006 editorial in Christianity Today, Archbishop Henry Orombi wrote: “When you read reports of a certain number of LRA rebels killed by the Ugandan army, remember that these rebels are our abducted and brainwashed children. When reading about LRA ‘rebels,’ always substitute the word ‘children’ for rebels. The military solution has failed for 20 years; only genuine dialogue and negotiation has come closest to ending the war.”
With over 100 million hits on the internet, the Kony 2012 video appears to mark a new phase in on line advocacy. However, the enthusiasm the video and its marketing campaign have generated has not effectively impacted the supposed beneficiaries of its good will, the Church of Uganda argued.
Invisible Children has been a “good partner with the Church of Uganda,” Canon Barfoot said.
“We thank them for standing with us when we were working to keep the need for a peaceful resolution to the war before the government. We also thank them for standing with us in the long and still ongoing process of rebuilding families and communities in Northern Uganda. They have helped us rebuild schools, send children to school, and build capacity among our teachers through training and exchange trips. It is unfortunate, however, that there was not a wider consultation with the local community on how to portray the current challenges facing the people of Northern Uganda and to accurately let them speak in their own voice.”
She said the “successful use of social marketing to get out a message is commendable and we urge Invisible Children to empower Ugandans with these tools and skills to enable their voices to be heard and appreciated.
But Invisible Children is not the “only organization working in Northern Uganda. The Church of Uganda, through its dioceses working in the affected areas, has a number of programmes related to rebuilding educational infrastructure, improving health services, providing water and sanitation services, orphan care, and community development projects. The Church is in every village with schools and health centres, is in touch with needs at the grassroots, and has a solid accountability structure.”
Canon Barfoot urged those who wanted to help address the needs of Northern Uganda in the aftermath of the depredations of Joseph Kony and the LRA to work with established aid agencies such as the “US-based Anglican Relief and Development Fund.”
In a statement posted on its website, Invisible Children conceded that it had not been clear that Joseph Kony left Uganda in 2006, and that its video had received a mixed response from Ugandans. “We have found that many Ugandans welcome the film’s message of stopping Joseph Kony, but some take offense at how the message was delivered. Admittedly, KONY 2012 was geared towards young, western audiences in an effort to raise awareness of what began in Uganda, but is currently taking place in DR Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan,” the charity said.
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.