By now you’ve probably seen the Kony 2012 video circulating the social networks. We posted it this morning, and I’ve seen tweets and Facebook posts about the film throughout my timeline. Celebs have jumped on the bandwagon and in just days, the video has already reached millions, but is it the real story? Or it the film and the Invisible Children organization yet another case of what many call “White Savior Syndrome”?

You’ve seen it before. Worthy causes only become noteworthy once white folks step in to champion it, never mind the black and brown people who have worked in the trenches to bring many of our world’s social ills to light. Somehow, people only sit up and take notice once a predominately white org or white celeb take up the case. Why is that?

This is the exact question being debated over on AfriPop, a blog about African art and culture. While Joseph Kony is indeed an evil man (we wrote about him last year), why is the plight of the Ugandian people just NOW coming to light even though he is apparently no longer involved in Uganda or its politics?

I’ll let Luso Mnthali of AfriPop explain:

At this point, you must know Kony is one hideous, hideous man. No question. And anybody would want to stop him. Yet the timing of this IC campaign is suspicious – why on earth does the IC lead saviour campaigner, former child soldier Jacob’s best friend in the whole world, not explain that Kony is no longer involved in Uganda, and that no one knows where he is? Why is the IC funding the Ugandan military, and how are we even going to sit here through the days of AFRICOM and pretend like the US government and its army are simply ‘advisers’? Why does this campaign look like only Americans can save Ugandans/Africans, when meanwhile Ugandans have been saving and helping themselves for many years? Completely nuts.

Crazy in that this hipster almost all-white movement’s axis point, the video that went viral in a day, comes at a crucial time in American politics. A time when the questions asked by some are why neo-colonialist assumptions about the rightness of aid and awareness are no longer finding easy answers. And as Africans we are asking ourselves  why now? Before any of you get excited, or don’t, for whatever reason, there are some very real points to take into consideration.  From a Ugandan’s perspective like Musa Okwonga’s (he has family ties to the region in question) to Solomme Lemma’s take on this campaign, there are some very strong points to be made about why supporting the Kony2012 campaign is the wrong idea.

In today’s instant news age, stories travel around the globe in a matter of minutes. And while we have a tendency to want to help out once we hear of some terrible injustice going on, how many of us actually stop and think critically about all of the factors in play?

While this KONY film will be sure to raise a shitload of cash for those involved, how much of that will actually funnel back to the people who need it most?

*Read more on AfriPop
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  • Thanks for providing your rdeaers with all this info Nate! After having researched Kony and the LRA pretty extensively over the past 6 months, I am saddened to hear a lot of people throwing around these kinds of false information about this whole thing. The organization I worked with in northern Uganda this summer (villageofhopeuganda.com) is working to provide a home and care for children orphaned by the LRA, many of whom were also forced to be part of the LRA in some way. I have found those in the US to be very unaware of what has happened and who Kony is in a very complicated situation with a complicated history! And most are completely unaware about the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Ugandan Recovery Act that Obama signed in May of 2010 and the background that gives for his actions now. Another organization that gives a lot of info on the effects of the LRA on the Ugandan children is Invisible Children. I too encourage folks to keep this part of the world and this situation especially in their prayers.

  • Amy Meredith

    Who can know the heart of a man or woman? It seem remarkably arrogant and short sighted to accuse a person of a “syndrome”, as though you can somehow see into their soul and know their motives. I think most people white or black (although I find it always remarkable that the only coverage ever given is to whites and black, completely ignoring all the other colors that make up the people of this universe), have a desire to help to help their fellow man who is in need without malice or ill intent. People can always take it however they so choose. Sadly, white people primarily control the money and the media. Should the Gates Foundation get out of the slums of India, because they are white? Should the Clinton Foundation get out of teaching about HIV/AID in Indonesia because they are white? Should there be no soup kitchens in the slums of Camden, NJ? And what about all the free medical care given by the likes of Doctors Without Borders? Should they go as well? I think the argument is remarkably weak. Having worked with a medical organization in Africa where we along with our African colleagues treated thousands of patients, many of whom had walked days to our clinic to get care, many of whom wept when we had to stop and turn them away and who begged us to return soon, I am just not buying it. If the Africans, or Asians or whomever lives in a war torn, hungry, sick world, who CAN help do it, for pity’s sake! I don’t believe that white people are “saviors” any more than I believe anyone can “save” another human being, but we are all certainly diminished if we can’t see and need a respond. Rather than sneering and demeaning people for YOUR perception of their motives, perhaps there is a better way for our world community of people to act and interact together….or better yet, next time we run a clinic in Africa,come offer to help us!