Like millions of people around the world yesterday I was gripped by the powerful and compelling video STOP KONY 2012. It is posted here below:

It’s 30 minutes long and it is worth taking the time to watch.I have shown it to everyone I can – including my children. I retweeted the link to my friends on twitter.


1. Powerful film making

– Jason Russel has put together a master piece. Through compelling story telling he makes some undeniably powerful claims about the value of evert life, the injustice of Child soldiers, the corruption of the Ugandan situation with Joseph Kony and his cronies. To make a viral video that is not 2 mins long, not 5 mins long but 30 minutes long is unheard of. The quality of the film making is so high – it as compelling a short film as I have seen. It is inspirational, educational, media literate, beautiful and breathtakingly sad.

2. Inspirational vision

– there is a very clear call to action. Using our social media opportunities we can call others into this fight against the tragedies of child soldiers. We can make use of the opportunity of the US election to stop fighting petty personality politics but to do some real good to fight injustice. Its a fantastic big hearted vision and I love the vision of it.

3. Movement

– the call is to get involved with a clear movement for change – to get stuck in and become part of something global and significant – definitely something I want to sign up for. To use your voice and your power to help others – clearly a right challenge to all of us.

4. Media Savy

– by targeting 20 media influencers – Rhianna, Bono, Mark Zuckerberg the INVISIBLE CHILDREN group behind the video have been incredibly clever. Rhianna and Bono don’t seem to have a lot of choice but to get on board. They wouldn’t want to be seen as being against a campaign that wants to free child solders would they.

5. Justice

As a Christian I am moved by the passion and commitment to try and do something about the poor and vulnerable. I want to support and join in with the fight for these invisible children. Caring for the needy, defending the rights of the vulnerable is a core part of what it means to be a Christian.


With that said sometimes its important to to ask questions. Not just to go with the media flow or the viral current. After spending a short time in Kenya speaking with Kenyan pastors about the Aid and development industry I have come to believe that people with good intentions can sometimes do harm as well as good.


1. Politics

I am not as well versed in Ugandan politics as I ought to be. But reading around the blogosphere questions have been raised around working the Invisible Children’s willingness to work with the Ugandan army who are pretty notorious for the way they operate. For example you may have read the shocking stories about the rape of DRC men in the guardian last year. Indeed the following blog have raised similar concerns:Liferemixed – reflections on KONY. It seems the group is for direct military intervention and with dubious partners.

“Suggesting that the answer is more military action is just wrong,” said Javie Ssozi, an influential Ugandan blogger.

2. Ugandans?

Another problem is that there are very few Ugandan voices in the film. We hear the heart rending story of one escaped child soldier. But very few Ugandan leaders backing the campaign or agreeing with the analysis of the problem. This could appear to be white westerners trying to solve Africa’s problems. Some have criticised the analysis of the problems made in the video. STOP PRESS – thanks to a friend I have this link from the UK’s Telegraph newspaper where prominent Ugandans are very critical about the campaign:

Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan journalist specialising in peace and conflict reporting, said: “This paints a picture of Uganda six or seven years ago, that is totally not how it is today. It’s highly irresponsible”.


3. Finance

It struck me that if this is all about the campaign, why didn’t the invisible children just give away free posters to download rather than have me pay for them to send me a pack. Comments have been made about the financial transparency of the organisation:

Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services (page 6), with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production. This is far from ideal for an issue which arguably needs action and aid, not awareness, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability 2/4 stars because they lack an external audit committee.


Thanks to helpful comments I want to link to Invisible Children’s reposnse to questions about their financials. Here’s the breakdown they provide.


Friends tell me that this is not outrageous for a non profit. But it does seem disappointing that so little of money raised goes to on the ground projects just 37%.

So what should you do?

1. Dig Deeper – lets take a closer look at the campaign and what funding it would actually mean. (watch this space as I try and find out more).

2. Stay Connected – just because there are questions and things are more complicated than they seem – don’t lose heart and duck out. Lets engage with the Invisible Children movement as there is so much common ground so much to commend in what they are doing – but lets not be afraid to ask the awkward questions.

3. Make a difference – we need to find effective ways to help the poor and needy and to end moral horrors such as the use of child soldiers, people trafficking etc. but it might take a little bit more work than a RT.



15 thoughts on “STOP STOP KONY 2012 ?

  1. Jennie B says:

    It’s nice to see a balanced argument out there, thanks Krish! I think the biggest “Con” is definitely the emphasis on military involvement. It would also be good to hear more of the Ugandan perspective. As for their finances, there is a breakdown response from Kony2012 here:
    From my understanding this is pretty average for the kind of non-profit organisation they are, but I’m willing to be wrong here. Just thought it was worth showing you their response to the accusations.

    Thanks again for posting both sides of the argument – the important thing is that people are talking about this, and as long as we keep the issue current then we stand a chance of actually achieving the goal of stopping Kony’s crimes.

  2. Keith says:

    Krish mentions the important fact of digging deeper. For the points mentioned IC have published a page dealing with various critiques.

    The aim of the whole Kony project is raising awareness and putting pressure on primarily american politicians. The main call to action after the video is to sign a petition not give money. Why not make your own Kony poster instead of simply throwing a cynical eye to how much buying one costs?

    Whatever the ‘crimes’ of IC its nothing like the crimes of groups like LRA and its shameful that people think its ok to sit back and pontificate on the merit of such a campaign then actually get involved. Got problems with it? Then why not go and do one better?

    1. krishkandiah says:

      thanks for the link Keith – have posted about the financials you raise. I am not encouraging pontification – rather critical engagement and dialogue.

  3. Judy says:

    i do love the way that you are always ahead with the media and whats going viral these days! one day out and i feel i have missed everything!

  4. Karl Udy says:

    I was a little perturbed by the need to stump up USD30 for a promotion pack too. (It seems like a lot of money for what’s in there, but maybe I’m just tight?) There also didn’t seem to be an option to be a local organizer for the Cover The Night strategy – so that churches, schools, or any local community group could mobilise a small to medium-sized group to do promotion.

    Of course, given the explosive exposure they’ve gained with this video, it’s hard to criticize their strategy. However, it remains to be proven whether social media sharing will translate to real world action. I guess we’ll find out come April 20.

    I really do hope this campaign brings about real action, and a change in people’s attitudes. It’s certainly promising so far.

  5. Janine Bailey says:

    Thanks for this Krish. I too had a look round after getting several links to STOP KONY, as I am always sceptical of FB and twitter “campaigns”.
    On the positive side I think we must applaud the campaign because it hads certainly got us all talking about this outrageous, dehumanising activity, and it is also spurring many to action. Like you I am concerned that the campaign seems rather colonial in its western white man approach, but if it acts as the first step to many, many people taking on board the desperate need to protect these children then that has to be good.

  6. bert han says:

    Foreign Policy has a good perspective on the Kony situation that brushes on some of the issues you raised.

    Also, I don’t know if you’re aware, but there’s an interesting documentary called The Redemption of General Buttnaked, which talks about a war criminal who also used child soldiers and claimed responsibility for the deaths of up to 20,000 people during the Liberian civil war. The interesting point is that he becomes a believer and then becomes an travelling evangelist. Worth watching if you haven’t already.


  7. Tasha says:

    I must admit I’m more annoyed at this campaign. I personally am ALL FOR raising awareness of the reality of African politics – but this campaign is misleading.

    The LRA have been effectively inactive since an initiative by the Ugandand Government in 2006. That’s not to say that they suddenly gave up and went home – there are still issues, and flare-ups -but the statistics given about child-soldiers are out of date. The LRA actually fled out of Uganda and are believed to be scattered in different countries.

    Uganda actually is one of the more stable countries in the region of Africa – that’s not to say they don’t have problems – but many of the refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan actually flee *TO* Uganda.

    What Uganda does need is the same as what Rwanda needs: Post-war investments. Medical attention, Psychological assistance, Business investment and Tourism. One of the easiest ways for an African country to boost their economy is through Tourism and Uganda being on the Equator has some magnificent scenes to offer.

    …but who of the people who blogged/tweeted/facebooked about children being kidnapped and a cruel military force apparently sweeping the country – would book a flight there?

    You don’t have to look far (if you want to) to see what Ugandans are saying about this campaign –and they are fuming. This is NOT what Uganda wants or needs.

    Here’s one of the most recent posts about Uganda’s response:

    1. krishkandiah says:

      Hi Tasha
      thank you for your comments – and the link. Will update the blog accordingly.

    2. Tasha says:

      I posted this on a different blog and someone told me that it read that I was against the idea of finding an indicted criminal.
      I want to clarify that I am not against it – Kony and Otti, Odhiambo & Ongwen (his co-leaders) are still collectively #1 on the ICC Most Wanted List. What I am opposed to is the attachment of Uganda to this campaign and the emphasis on the US Army to empower the Ugandan army and push them for this task. Sure the Ugandans have a role to play, but this is a UN issue – not a USA/Uganda issue. And if we’re going after warlords, I’m not sure if attaching them to a country is the best idea and insisting that the country solves the problem (with or without American assistance). Happy to dialogue on this.

      The point of frustration to me comes from my cynicism that people are posting this to ‘be the first to say it’ – not because they’re actually writing to their government. I would be DELIGHTED to be proven wrong.

  8. Joseph Pettitt says:

    To add to your concerns about only 37% of funds going to projects on the ground. I have no idea about this organisation, but I regularly visit Zambia and see that so much of the money that actually does get through into aid projects is spent inappropriately.
    I don’t suppose that’s news to anyone. What has depressed me is just how hard it is to avoid this happening.
    However, I’m aware that many people – including myself – can wrongly turn that into an excuse to not give money or take action.

  9. Nick says:

    Kirsh, as always, a good balanced post.

    This whole Kony2012 thing has raised some interesting questions and has got me thinking on a few things. I have a couple of reservations with this, which I’ve blogged on at above.

  10. Jonathan Goddard says:

    I was challenged the other day by a good friend of mine that Jesus loves Kony and died for him. He asked that if God loves him whether we should be supporting a campaign which specifically backs an effort to ‘kill or capture’ him… This is a question to which i do not have an answer.

  11. Tom Otieno says:

    Kony has been on the run for 6 years. While he has done very bad things, it should not be lost to many people that the Uganda government army came to power through a gorrila warfare , which left behind deaths and other atrocities. They have equally never been made to account. The film does not seem to have any input from the Acholi people who have been most affected as victims of both Kony and Uganda government soldiers excesses. In general while the effort of the film maker is to be lauded, in the end it will make him more famous than it would help on the ground.

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