Commentary by Bailey Pennington
Chances are, you have heard of Joseph Kony or the Kony 2012 movement. Just recently, this man and the movement against him have become a social buzz throughout the United States courtesy of social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. But if you are still unaware of the phenomenon, here’s what you have missed …
In the east African country of Uganda, Kony has been a reigning terror for nearly 30 years. As a young boy, Kony led a typical life until he chose to drop out of church and later school. He soon became involved with cults within his country, which eventually led him to war.
As he grew older and more powerful, Kony began his own resistance army known as the LRA, or Lord’s Resistance Army, in which he proclaims himself to be the “spokesman of God” for his fellow countrymen. Unfortunately, Kony’s army was not made up of highly trained male soldiers, but young Ugandan children.
Through the years, Kony and his workmen have kidnapped tens of thousands of young children — the girls he forced to become sex-slaves and the boys he forced to become child soldiers. For these actions, Kony has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes since 2005.
Of course, seven years have passed since this indictment and Kony is still at large.
Now, more attention is being brought to Kony and the terror he continues to inflict on the people of Uganda and surrounding countries. Recently, filmmaker Jason Russell created a 30-minute documentary for the campaign group Invisible Children — an organization dedicated to being the voice of the children silenced by Kony’s crimes. The film, entitled “Kony 2012″ aims to bring awareness to who Kony is and bring action towards a movement against him.
This video, which was released at the start of this year, has since reached 84 million views and triggered national conversation on Kony as well as Russell and the Invisible Children organization. Of course, this brought mass media attention to the program and in turn skyrocketed Kony and the organization to fame.
But as with all great leaps to fame, there comes an equally quick crash. Along with the buzz of Joseph Kony and the LRA, the Invisible Children group’s motives have been called into question.
Russell and several members of his team have recently been arrested in California and the campaign group’s finances have been put under the microscope of investigation.
So where does that leave us? With the credibility of Russell and the Invisible Children organization called into question, it is easy to form opinions and make assumption about the Kony 2012 movement.
Regardless, the facts remain the same: Kony has been a reigning warlord on the nation of Uganda for decades and something needs to be done to stop it.
Whether or not you support the movement made by Invisible Children is a personal choice, but our American government has taken a stand against Kony and sent troops to help train an army against him. Our nation has chosen to support the people hurt by these crimes, and wouldn’t we want the same thing if the situation were vice versa?
For more information on Kony and the Kony 2012 movement, you can visit kony2012.com or search for “Kony 2012″ on YouTube to watch the documentary. Then you can decide whether or not to help make a change.
Bailey Pennington is a senior at Eastern Alamance High School and a Teens & Twenties writer.