Controversial ‘Kony 2012’ films elicit visible response from student activists

A group of students take part in the national ‘Cover the Night’ campaign, sponsored by Invisible Children, by creating posters to raise awareness about Kony April 20. Photo by Gloria So, staff photographer.
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The "White Man's Burden" panel discussion addresses issues intertwined in the organization and mission it supports. Photo by Gloria So, staff photographer.

An Invisible Children representative who lived through the experience hiding from the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group concentrated in central Africa, as depicted in the “Kony 2012” films, addressed a crowd at Elon University April 23.

As a 5-year-old in northern Uganda, Agnes Aromorach slept alone in the jungle each night, using the brush and the darkness to conceal herself from the LRA led by Joseph Kony.

“It was so cold, I had no shelter and I was so scared of the darkness and the animals and just everything,” said Aromorach, who now works as a traveling volunteer, or roadie, for Invisible Children. “People lived in total fear of being abducted by the rebel army, of losing their loved ones every single day that passed by.”

Invisible Children is an organization dedicated to education about child soldiers in Uganda. In the wake of the organization’s viral video “Kony 2012,” five roadies with the organization raised awareness of the “Stop Kony” campaign Monday night at Elon University. Through the first-hand testimony of Aromorach and the screening of “Kony 2012 Part II – Beyond Famous,” the team condemned Kony for kidnapping thousands of African children from their villages and forcing them to assume military roles in the LRA. They urged students to join the fight against him by appealing to political leaders and spreading information.

Since its online release March 5, “Kony 2012” has been viewed more than 100 million times worldwide. The video incited both activism and criticism, creating a controversy that now surrounds Invisible Children and the cause for which it fights.

While “Kony 2012” moved many to action at the individual and national levels, some argue that the film exaggerates Kony’s influence within the region and misrepresents the plight of the Africans affected by the violence of the LRA.

 An Invisible Children representative who lived through the experience hiding from the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group concentrated in central Africa, as depicted in the “Kony 2012” films, addressed a crowd at Elon University April 23.As a 5-year-old in northern Uganda, Agnes Aromorach slept alone in the jungle each night, using the brush and the darkness to conceal herself from the LRA led by Joseph Kony. “It was so cold, I had no shelter and I was so scared of the darkness and the animals and just everything,” said Aromorach, who now works as a traveling volunteer, or roadie, for Invisible Children. “People lived in total fear of being abducted by the rebel army, of losing their loved ones every single day that passed by.”

An Invisible Children representative discusses the Kony II documentary with students at Elon. Photo by Gloria So, staff photographer.

Invisible Children is an organization dedicated to education about child soldiers in Uganda. In the wake of the organization’s viral video “Kony 2012,” five roadies with the organization raised awareness of the “Stop Kony” campaign Monday night at Elon University. Through the first-hand testimony of Aromorach and the screening of “Kony 2012 Part II – Beyond Famous,” the team condemned Kony for kidnapping thousands of African children from their villages and forcing them to assume military roles in the LRA. They urged students to join the fight against him by appealing to political leaders and spreading information.

Since its online release March 5, “Kony 2012” has been viewed more than 100 million times worldwide. The video incited both activism and criticism, creating a controversy that now surrounds Invisible Children and the cause for which it fights.

While “Kony 2012” moved many to action at the individual and national levels, some argue that the film exaggerates Kony’s influence within the region and misrepresents the plight of the Africans affected by the violence of the LRA.

In response to those arguments, Invisible Children released the second Kony video to explain in more detail theLRA and its migration from Uganda to Democratic Republic of Sudan, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

“Critics say the film manipulates facts and oversimplifies a complex issue, but it’s only meant to be an introduction to a really complex topic,” said Laura Weldy, a member of the Invisible Children team.

But it was the controversial nature of the campaign that drew some students to the “Kony 2012 – Part II” screening.

“There’s been a lot of hype about (the videos) and I wanted to do anything I could to get more information,” said sophomore Paige Vansbury. “It makes sense that people would question Invisible Children, but it’s hard to vilify an organization that does so much good.”

Sophomore Sally Van Denover said she has fully supported Invisible Children since high school, but wanted to know more about the debate regarding the organization’s motives.

“I came to see if they would address (the controversy),” she said.

Although the Invisible Children roadies didn’t directly address any arguments made against the films, Weldy acknowledged criticism inevitably develops from such a widespread movement.

Invisible Children has really done a lot of good things, but sometimes people fail to see everything. People are getting involved because of this awareness, and we are turning the world into a global community.
– Laura Weldy, a member of the Invisible Children team

“Not everyone embraces things like someone else might,” she said. “Invisible Children has really done a lot of good things, but sometimes people fail to see everything. People are getting involved because of this awareness, and we are turning the world into a global community.”

While the Invisible Children representatives did not directly comment on the controversy, Lauren Berk, secretary of the Invisible Children club at Elon, said the members of the club often respond directly to students’ questions regarding the “Stop Kony” campaign.

‘Kony 2012: Part 2′ film screening

Video by Emily Haring, multimedia reporter

“We have addressed the criticisms in a number of ways,” she said. “We share the (response) page on the Invisible Children website, and we have very open discussions about the motives of Invisible Children.”

The club also held a panel discussion and an information table at College Coffee last week in the effort to invoke conversation about the organization and the issues it faces. It also participated in the nationwide “Cover the Night” event inspired by “Kony 2012 – Part II” April 20. That night, the club invited students to make posters and door hangers to spread awareness.

“The response (to our efforts) has been overwhelmingly positive,” Berk said. “But in no way do we shy away from the criticisms because the answers are there. We know the motives and we know the details.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bohn-Jowden/1409416135 Bohn Jowden

    I wish we had better charities represented on campus. I’d really rather not fund the Ugandan Army with my donations which do the exact same thing Kony did, albeit on a smaller scale.

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