Invisible Children and the Rise and Fall of Kony 2012

KONY 2012

One video. That’s all it took.

With the video receiving over 100 million views in a short, six-day span, people all over the globe were made more aware of the decades-old conflict occurring in Uganda.

One man. That is who it is all about.

Joseph Kony is a man of extreme terror. His rebel army, known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, had been abducting children all across Uganda and forcing them to serve as soldiers.

Families were torn apart. Many, including children, have lost their lives or have seen the death of a loved one.

That is where the Invisible Children movement came into play in 2012. With the creation of a video that went viral in a matter of days, they hoped to raise awareness and funds in support of the abolition of this crisis.

The movement intended to inspire action — and that it did.

Invisible Children raised millions of dollars in donations and expanded their protection and recovery programs in Uganda.

However, after its swift rise to fame in 2012, the Invisible Children movement has now slowed to a mere crawl and is on the verge of disappearance.

But why?

With the heightened attention, due to the release of the video, Invisible Children started to encounter push back.

The breakdown of the allocation of funds for the Invisible Children movement. Image from http://invisiblechildren.com/kony-2012/

Criticisms of how the movement was representing the crisis began to pierce their reputation.

“In their efforts to construct absolute categories of ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ [Invisible Children CEO Ben] Keesey argues in a recent op-ed in the New York Times that the LRA was directly responsible for the death of 1,000 displaced persons per week. While there is no doubt that the LRA has committed horrific acts, the difficult circumstances in the IDP camps were to a large extent caused by the Ugandan government’s strategy of forced displacement, which suggests that there is plenty of blame to go around for the deaths of displaced Ugandans during the war’s darkest days.

“While it is certainly difficult to attract sustained attention to a complex cause, IC is not unaware of the myriad dynamics of the conflict. One of its closest partners, Resolve, for example, often produces well-researched reports on the issue. Yet, in its drive to have the widest possible reach, Invisible Children regularly decided instead to rely on questionable connections between its work and changes in the LRA’s activities on the ground,” according to the Washington Post.

Coupled with the criticisms, IC also faced depletion of their money supply, stating that they had spent every dollar they had accumulated.

“Keesey says Invisible Children exhausted virtually all of the money it raised from the Kony 2012 campaign in 18 to 24 months,” according to an article from NPR. “But Keesey [also] says the money was raised to be spent. ‘I have no regrets about that,’ Keesey told NPR. “That is why people gave us the money. That is the reason people parted with their hard-earned dollars. They were touched by this story and they wanted to contribute.’”

The Invisible Children movement experienced a rise and subsequently went through a fall. That said, the work put forth and the funds that were raised served as a support in ending the Ugandan crisis lead by Kony.

Some see the movement as a failure, but others claim the movement thrived and changed the direction of the decade-long struggle.


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