Joseph Kony. PHOTO/AFP
This week’s biggest Africa news isn’t from Africa. It’s from a massive online and social media campaign launched by the American advocacy group Invisible Children to capture indicted war criminal and Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony.
As with their previous campaigns Displace Me and How it Ends, Invisible Children launched Stop Kony 2012 on Tuesday to mobilize the next generation of young Americans to help end the conflict in northern Uganda – except this time, they called on their mostly white, privileged, and educated youth followers to get involved through web-activism on their Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube accounts.
It all begins with a remarkable 30-minute video highlighting the instantaneous and hyper-connected world we live in. Founder Jason Russell narrates, stating “there are more people on Facebook than there were in the world 200 years ago” and that “humanity’s greatest desire is to belong and connect.”
On its face, it’s eerily reminiscent of previous Africa advocacy movements, such as Save Darfur in its early days: grand public launches, with minimal partnership and little substance. Dangerous. Whether they meant it to or not, whatever the intentions, it ends up looking like yet another Western campaign to help Africans who can’t help themselves. Africa can’t be handled that way anymore.
They should be inspired by knowing Africa is empowered, saving itself, and working with partners to remove Kony. That is the real story.