If your recent online social networking experience has been anything like mine, the phrase “Kony 2012!” probably hit your radar this week after Invisible Children launched their newest campaign. You might be asking yourself, “Who is Kony?” In fact, I hope you are. That’s kind of the point.
Joseph Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the rebel group responsible for more than 25 years of civil war in Uganda and other parts of southern Africa. The LRA abducts children from their beds to turn them into child soldiers. If the children try to escape or do not cooperate, the LRA kills them. More than 30,000 children have been abducted and more than a million citizens have been displaced. The LRA has moved into the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Sudan.
The International Criminal Court has indicted Kony for war crimes, but he has evaded capture by the Ugandan army.
Why should anyone spread the word? The Invisible Children is fighting a war against ignorance. The U.S. government needs to see that America cares about Uganda so that they will continue to provide aid. Invisible Children knows Americans will recognize that what has been happening for about the past 26 years is wrong. However, the population can’t take a position on something that they don’t realize is happening.
From experience, I can honestly say spreading awareness about Invisible Children leads to action. In high school, the administration pulled us out of class every year for Invisible Children events. The Invisible Children Club ran fundraisers for “Schools for Schools”, one of Invisible Children’s previous campaigns. As a student body, we came together to support children thousands of miles away. Loveland High School simply presented the facts. The student body chose to act on them.
Driven by social media, a similar response has been elicited at Ohio State and around the country. In the past three days, the Facebook campaign has accumulated more than 387,000 “likes.” “#KONY2012” has been trending on Twitter and the Youtube video, posted by Invisible Children on March 5, has more than 38 million views.
Typically, college-age students drive social movements. As one of the largest universities in the country, OSU is in a position to impact the campaign.
At 6 pm on Friday, Kony 2012 @ Ohio State, a new organization, is having its first meeting.
Elana Berusch, a first-year in food science, said she is excited about the event.
“I didn’t even know this was happening,” she said. “Now that I do, I really want to get involved.”
She, like 109 others, plans to cover Columbus in Kony’s name during the nationwide “Cover the Night” event April 20. The goal is to make him famous – not to support him, but to unite the world against him.
Every social movement comes with some controversy. Many skeptics are calling into question Invisible Children’s use of funds, tactics and the effectiveness of the Kony 2012 movement. But in response, Invisible Children reminds us, “Let’s focus on what matters, and what we DO agree on: Joseph Kony needs to be stopped.”
If you haven’t seen the video yet, go watch it. Aside from being a call for justice, it is also an excellent introduction to the organization. Need a link? Check your Facebook feed. I guarantee it’s on there.