Ugandan Kony target of viral campaign

2012-03-08 08:55

San Diego - American filmmakers who reported on wartime atrocities in Africa for a 50-minute work called Invisible Children drew more attention than they imagined when their project was released in 2005. They soon founded a non-profit organisation to campaign against the brutality.

The group's new 29-minute video is gaining even more attention, thanks to social media. The work released on Monday is part of an effort called Kony 2012 that targets the Lord's Resistance Army and its leader, Joseph Kony, a bush fighter wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Uganda, Invisible Children and #stopkony were among the top 10 trending terms on Twitter among both the worldwide and US audience on Wednesday night, ranking higher than New iPad or Peyton Manning. Twitter's top trends more commonly include celebrities than fugitive militants.

Ben Keesey, Invisible Children's 28-year-old chief executive officer, said the viral success shows their message resonates and that viewers feel empowered to force change. It was released on the website,

"The core message is just to show that there are few times where problems are black and white. There's lots of complicated stuff in the world, but Joseph Kony and what he's doing is black and white," Keesey said on Wednesday.

Kony's Ugandan rebel group is blamed for tens of thousands of mutilations and killings over the last 26 years. The militia abducts children, forcing them to serve as soldiers or sex slaves, and even to kill their parents or each other to survive.

Invisible Children occupies a small office tower in San Diego, where its three founders were raised. With a staff of about 40, aided by interns, the group trains people for six-week stints at its headquarters to spread the word of LRA atrocities.

High frequency radios

Groups of five "roadies" fan out to college campuses and churches throughout the United States and Canada, sleeping at homes of strangers. One member of each group is from Africa and shares life experiences.

Tragedy struck in 2010 when an American volunteer was among 74 people killed by explosions that tore through crowds watching the World Cup final in Uganda. Nate Henn was hit by shrapnel from one of the blasts.

Last year, the group began installing high frequency radios in Africa's remotest jungle to help track militia attacks in Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan. People in areas without phones can report attacks on the radios to people who put them on a website called the LRA Crisis Tracker.

Keesey joined Invisible Children in 2005 after graduating from University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in applied mathematics, management and accounting.

"We thought it would be a short project, maybe a year or two, and now it's turned into eight or nine years," he said. "The purpose of this campaign is that 2012 is the year this crazy violence can stop."

  • Kraken - 2012-03-08 09:23

    Hunt Kony down like an animal!!! But don't kill him yet. He has to face the justice system - this is the only chance he will ever have to maybe come to realize how awful his actions have been.

      Gordon - 2012-03-08 10:02

      Clearly you have no understanding how a sociopath with delusional episodes views the world. He is not going to have a crisis of conscience at any time.

      Kraken - 2012-03-08 10:55

      I think you used "Clearly" and "no understanding" in your comment without thinking at all. If you read my comment properly, you will see I used "chance" and "maybe". Even if he doesn't come to this realization, he can at least face the (long)list of charges, and listen to how he is seen by the world. Then he can die knowing that he isn't the "king" he thinks he is by surrounding himself with supporters. Please think before you type useless comments.

      E=MC2 - 2012-03-08 12:09

      Jeeze Gordon - go on the offensive why dont you... Kraken - I agree with letting him face the law, but i'd say a slow & painful death is what someone like him deserves!

      AdriaanAdams - 2012-03-08 14:17

      MIA2012 is in full support of 'making Kony known', however not all can go and make a difference in the lives of those in Uganda, Congo, and Sudan. BUT, we can do something here, at home, around us, to make a difference. If you are not sure how you can be the change Afirca so desperately needs, visit

      Dave Prinsloo - 2012-03-08 14:52

      he would defend his actions as 'christian' and doing the work of god. Looking back at christian history, he must be right - just doing what crispies have been doing for 600 years - killing, maiming, torturing, raping. The vatican's work horse in africa: joseph kony

      Kraken - 2012-03-08 15:36

      @Dave That's like saying all Muslims are terrorists and all terrorists are Muslims. Grow a brain

      Franklyn - 2012-03-08 17:00

      @Kraken,personaly i think Tony made a very valid the insults,we really dont care to read them.

      Kraken - 2012-03-08 23:26

      Hey Frankey. Personally, I think you should lay off the grass a bit. Who is Tony??? If you are talking about me insulting DAVE, I think I also made a valid point. I agree with Dave's first sentence - Kony will probably say he is doing the work of the Lord. The rest, however, is utter nonsense. The history of "Christianity" is indeed marred by horrible incidents, but how on earth can you put all Christians in the same camp as the bad ones? Therefore the comparison I referred to in my last comment is actually a very valid one. And as you would say: "Personally", I feel these insults might be necessary to help some people think before they type. You, however, just need to stop smoking the grass and ignore this Tony voice in your head.

  • hanithadam.forman - 2012-03-08 12:34

    That's the problem isn't it? Once we here from both sides, the stories they tell both seem sincere and zealous. Makes this matter very difficult to comprehend. When it comes to war, both sides are the masters of rhetoric and propaganda. But as i said before, you must think for yourselves and do what is right.

  • Ben - 2012-03-08 12:40

    Fact: This is getting global recognition. Fact: Nothing will happen The internet spread the word pretty fast but unfortunately it spreads it to a populace that lives more and more vicariously every day. "I LIKED it on facebook so my good deed for the day is done and I did my part" But I hope something happens.

  • Mark - 2012-03-08 12:43

    Global Transformations produced a documentary on Kony and the LRA a few years ago called 'An unconvential war'. Kony uses very strong witchcraft to avoid capture and evade the Ugandan National Forces. He is a demonically driven man. The LRA has been mutilating and destroying lives for years but until an American gets injured the world ignores the plight of what is happening in Africa. We need to do everything possible to crush the LRA and see healing brought to the people of Uganda.

  • Melanie - 2012-03-08 13:45

    A stand, albeit flawed, is better than no stand at all. I admire and respect the filmmakers with all their Hollywood theatrics for taking a stand for the rights of children in Uganda. It's more than I have been able to do this year, besides supporting a couple charities here and there and discussing world issues with friends. I would rather see the brilliance of the message as apposed to the medium. The message is stop Kony, make a global stand for the rights of every Ugandan child. Well instead of critiquing the pros or cons of the filmmaking process or administration funds of Invisible Children, I would rather back a worthy cause ... however imperfect.

      Joe-Anne - 2012-03-08 15:25

      It is not a question of whether or not Invisible Children are right in their condemnation of the LRA. It is about transparency, about which there are serious questions regarding Invisibles' accounting of how their donations are spent. Second, is the very relevant question, over whether a group of idealistic, and I have to say, extremely naive young Americans should be interferring on the ground in Africa in the first place. To what end ? Do they honestly belive that Joseph Kony is now going to halt his terror campaign and surrender > It actually seems to me to be far more a case of promoting themselves in order to raise more and more donations, most of which appears to be spent on salaries and 'expenses'. They should revive Executive Outcomes, who I am sure would resolve the issue in the best possible time-frame, and incur the least cost in doing so. People, beware of throwing money at charities who remain unaccountable, and live the 'High Life' off the funds that they raise.

  • Dave Prinsloo - 2012-03-08 14:40

    living out what all christians want - a country ruled by theocrats according to the 10 commandents. Our fantastic christian heritage. Killing for jesus, zuma, malema, all have faecal matter in the cranium

  • Grant - 2012-03-08 16:45

    "The purpose of this campaign is that 2012 is the year this crazy violence can stop." In your dreams boet. In Africa killing people is a way of life. It's our way of creating ancestors. I get really pissed off. Everytime there is a crisis or disaster anywhere in the world a charity springs up collecting money. Our tax money goes to help UNICEF and we can donate money to the red cross. The countries where the help is promised forms a total area bigger than Europe. So heres a few questions : How many of these promised high frequency radios will be required? How will they be powered? (I guarantee the batteries will disapear). How are all these dispersed people going to be trained to communicate on the radios (I was in the Rhodesian army so I know that people have to taught). How many staff will be needed to receive and process the messages as there will be well over a hundred launguages spoken in those regions? If a message is successfully conveyed, then what? What action can Invisable Children take to assist the victims? Why not just hand out cell phones and have recharge facilities spread about? I don't for one minute believe that this 'charity' has any intentions of doing what they say they're going to do but at least people that give money feel they've done the right thing. And of course at least the directors of IC live comfortable lives.

  • Hoppies - 2012-03-08 23:54

    Why now? February 28, 2012, 8:40 a.m. ET Tullow Says Investments In Uganda Oil Sector Has Hit $1B KAMPALA Uganda (Dow Jones)--UK-based Tullow Oil PLC (TLW.LN) has invested at least $1 billion in the exploration of oil and gas in Uganda, leading to the discovery of over a billion barrels of recoverable oil reserves, with an estimated 1.5 billion barrels expected to be found in three exploration blocks, the company announced Tuesday. In a statement, Tullow, which has been operating in Uganda since 2006, said the investments have been made in seismic and drilling activities, and "this level of resource could place Uganda in the top 50 oil producers in the world." Last week, Tullow completed the long-awaited $2.9 billion sale of part of its interests in the three oil blocks in the country to France's Total SA (TOT) and China's CNOOC Ltd. (CEO) which is expected to unlock investments worth $10 billion to develop the country's oil fields. Tullow said it would continue working with the Ugandan government and local communities in the development of the country's nascent oil industry.

      Hoppies - 2012-03-08 23:55

      "We believe in developing capacity for Tullow and for sustainable development and management of Uganda's oil and gas industry," the company stated. Uganda is expected to commence phased oil production next year, starting with around 20,000 barrels of oil a day, peaking at around 180,000 barrels a day by 2018, according to Fred Kabagambe Kalisa, the permanent secretary at Uganda's energy and minerals ministry. Tullow, Total and CNOOC are expected to build a single oil processing unit in the Lake Albertine rift basin, along the country's western border with Congo. Moreover, a $1.5 billion barrels-a-day refinery and a 1,300 kilometer-long pipeline are expected to be constructed to support an oil export project. Oil exploration has only been conducted in 40% of Uganda's Albertine Graben (a depressed block of land bordered by parallel faults) and reserves are expected to increase to as much as 6 billion barrels with more exploration activities, according government geologists. The Albertine Graben is located in the western area of Uganda.

  • Hoppies - 2012-03-08 23:55

    "THAT KONY 2012 VIRAL VIDEO GOING EVERYWHERE IS KIND OF A SCAM" "EXTREMELY shady organization, Invisible Children Inc., who seeded this video. The short of it: They don’t allow their financials to be audited, they’re rated poorly by some major charity watchdog groups, and only 31% of their money actually goes to helping people according to one financial statement they did release. And Kony himself hasn’t been seen or active in any guerrilla organizations since 2006"

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