As Kony 2012 went viral, many so-called experts on Uganda, the naïve ones inclusive, were up in arms with all manners of verbal assaults on Invisible Children, the makers of the video. Criticisms are always necessary because they show areas of improvements, but these ones were of a different brand, without a speck of appreciation for what the organization has been doing in Uganda over the years.

 

LRA Leader Joseph Kony

 

While some of the allegations were understandable, and I too personally identifies with, some were simply overzealous wiseacres. Some wondered whether this organization was doing anything at all in Uganda. In revolutionary parlance, we have a name for such people – reactionaries. I am especially disappointed with those Anti-Kony Ugandan Diaspora dwellers, who apart from their few weeks visits to Uganda, cannot be accused of knowing the present circumstances in Uganda.

 

Some critics who are renowned academicians straightaway rubbished KONY 2012 as oversimplification of a complex matter. It is however worth noting that to be presented in all its complexities, the documentary of this long atrocious rebellion needed to have lasted at least twelve hours, at the barest minimum. But which idle person would take 12 hours of his busy schedules to watch such a lengthy film?

 

I find it absurd and irrational that some of the harsh words that should have been directed at perpetrators of the dehumanizing, destituting, and untold economic upheavals – that we have experienced for more than a decade of the insurgency – are rather being carelessly flung at third parties – I call IC third parties.

Indeed, there has always been local initiatives by Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative. Hypocritically, few of the current critics are on record as having provided moral or any kind of support to the efforts of these religious leaders.

Far from praising the modes of operations of IC in entirety, herein is my humble perception in specific regards to the views of the critics, especially Ugandan critics.

The reoccurring tenets in arguments of KONY 2012 critics was that Kony is no longer a major issue in today’s Uganda and that there are other more pressing issues, which is true. But does it mean that since the guns fell silent, all the sociological and economic impacts of the war vanished away just like that? Certainly not. Go to Luwero and you will observe some impacts of the wars are unadressed more that 26 years later.

Logically, if the Kony 2012 video wasn’t accurate enough, the solution is simple; as one blogger put it “OK, GO MAKE YOUR OWN ACCURATE VIDEOS!” and we compare notes. Is it Invisible Children’s responsibly to create videos about all the issues that affect Ugandans today? Of course not.

Then there was this unsustainable claim that Kony was Uganda’s internal problem, desirous of a local solution. Partly yes – but not exclusively Uganda’s problem.  Now that the rebels have gone international – in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR) – do we still say its exclusively Uganda’s internal affairs even when they are wrecking havocs on innocent citizens of other countries?

Is it bad for Kony to kill in Uganda but good for him to kill, abduct and plunder in CAR? The arms and ammunitions the rebels use are not made in Africa, but trafficked from those developed nations (disaster entrepreneurship), and we claim its an internal matter. Can we Ugandans control how Arms are trafficked to rebels who are outside our territory?

The critics may most probably be unaware of the security circumstances in that part of the great lakes region where remnants of LRA are currently operating. It is a large area the size of FRANCE, with vast expanse of territories ungoverned by the respective central governments. In most of eastern Congo, including the border with CAR, Kinshasha is yet to assert authority over its own territory, as most of the area is under shockingly numerous rebel groups. If DRC cant crack down on its own multiple atrocious, rapist and pillage rebel forces, how can it crack LRA, even if it had the capacity?

Central Africa is another Congo look alike. Only in 2002, the CAR regime narrowly survived a coup, thanks to war mercenary, ICC war crimes indicted Jean Pierre Bemba, then a leader of Congolese rebel outfit MLC. What does this tell you about CAR’s military capacity to wipe out LRA if it takes a mercenary ragtag rebel group to avert a coup in a sovereign republic?

 

Is it bad to campaign for the arrest of Kony? I assume we all agree that Kony should be arrested and tried for his crimes. If some of the so-called experts think Kony could be easy to catch even without foreign support, then the experts should tell us why they did not help in catching him all these years?

If there are other people, outside of LRA who should also be investigated for war crimes, then such people should be easy to get, as they are within Uganda. It is Kony who is hard to get, hence the necessity for the Kony 2012 campaign.

The critics whose view I nearly concur with as genuine are those who preferred peaceful approach to military means as a way of bringing the conflict to an end. The reason they gave is that the rebel fighters are actually Ugandans, who did not join willingly but were abducted and that a negotiated conflict settlement could reduce collateral damage. The dilemma is, whether to spare the rebels, who would continue meting atrocities as they please, or to save innocent civilians by military action.

The internal dynamics of LRA are not easy to comprehend, especially with unconfirmed reports that Kony’s erstwhile deputy, Vincent Otti was relieved of earthly pleasures (killed) because his enthusiasm in the peace process was regarded by the LRA high command as subversive tendency of sabotage, a sort of treason or abuse of office.

 Am quite surprised that we Ugandans with a reputation for welcoming rogues of rogues Investors are the ones turning against this useful partners – at least useful than anti-people foreign scoundrels like Kanathan of AGOA girls infamy.

 The concerns about the geo-political and strategic economic interests of foreigners in resources in great lakes region is good foresight. But wait a minute, isn’t this the same country where unscrupulous companies like Heritage just acquired explorations rights cheaply then sold our oil wells expensively, initially refusing to pay tax even if it sold what it did not own?  Where were you economic defenders when Heritage, a brief case Oil Exploration Company was playing its game here?

In the spirit of fairness, criticism should be fair, balanced and not offensive. For instance, cruel as the northern insurgency has been, some people were certainly hearing it for the first time through Kony 2012. Others wondered if KONY 2012 was a catchword for a presidential aspirant. At least this shows that the video had some indisputable IMPACT, regardless of other factors.

If we had solved our internal problems long ago, which critics claim we are capable of, then perhaps Invisible Children woundnt have even made this KONY 2012 – If we had solved the problem. And it wasnt Invisible Children’s fault that we failed to settle our internal Conflict.

 

One of the structures built by IC in Gulu High School.

One of the structures built by IC in Gulu High School.