Kony 2012: 75 million viewers later, some Ugandans get first glimpse of film
Invisible Children's Kony 2012 film has sparked a global conversation about African warlord Joseph Kony. So far, however, little has been heard from those living closest to the conflict.
Soon after sunset Tuesday, on a projector screen in a dusty park in the center of a northern Ugandan town, survivors of Joseph Kony’s war of terror will watch the film about him that has swept the world and been watched more than 75 million times on YouTube.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army
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Few in Lira, once the epicentre of fighting between Kony’s rebels and the Ugandan armed forces, have access to the Internet at speeds that will allow the 30-minute film to stream.
But Victor Ochen, director of a Ugandan charity working with people abducted or maimed by Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), is making sure that they will be able to see Kony2012.
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“We have brought a projector up here and a very big screen, and even as I talk to you, we are setting it up in Lira Mayor’s Garden,” he tells the Monitor from the town, 220 miles north of the capital, Kampala. “It is only right that this thing which is being talked about in every corner of the world is also seen by the people whose story it sets out to tell.”
The film, made by Invisible Children Inc., a San Diego-based activist organization, aims to focus US efforts to help bring about the arrest of Joseph Kony (pronounced Kohn), the LRA’s leader. While it has spawned a global debate on the merits of Invisible Children's movie and social media campaign, little of the reaction – even from within Uganda – has come from those who have lived for years in the shadow of the conflict.
Mr. Kony's 26-year war started in northern Uganda, where tens of thousands of children were abducted to be soldiers, “wives,” or porters, and where thousands more who resisted were permanently disfigured. Kony became the first suspect indicted by the International Criminal Court, in 2005, and faces 33 charges including murder, rape and kidnapping children.
Invisible Children, and Kony2012’s director, Jason Russell, have been criticized for over-simplifying the conflict’s causes and for spending more money on management, media, and movies than on grass-roots projects.
This issue 'still needs more attention'
But Mr. Ochen, whose brother and cousin were both kidnapped by the LRA and are still missing, says the criticism misses a key point.
“How would we ever be able to have so much global attention come to us, on an issue which has been running for almost three decades, and which still needs more attention on a daily basis,” he asks.
“That film has put Kony’s name on people’s lips. They are asking questions, they are trying to understand.
“The film is not without its challenges, but the more people get connected directly to the victims, and the more that people understand what Kony did here, and what he may still be doing in other countries, the more everyone can work together for real, long-lasting peace.”
Fred Opolot, a spokesman in the office of Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, agrees.