African Weeks in Review 24 Feb – 9 March

In two weeks, a significant amount of action took place on the African continent. The AWIR took a week off so that I could compose an OpEd piece on Boko Haram for a class assignment, and in the process I missed recapping all the events unfolding out of Senegal in the post-election events and the expulsion of Julius Malema from the ANC in South Africa. While those were to be the main topics of this Review, the current story surrounding the Invisible Children, Joseph Kony, and the discussion occurring on social media demands full understanding before proceeding.

Joseph Kony

The current uproar surrounds this video: Kony 2012, which is now at over 60 million hits in just four days. It is made by the organization Invisible Children, which has been working for many years in advocacy on the cause of child soldiers in Uganda. Their most recent video is the cause of significant interest and the controversy is over the way the video depicts the conflict, the LRA, Joseph Kony, the ways they say people in the West can help, and how they’re using social media in an attempt to make Kony famous. #Kony2012 is their campaign to bring notoriety to the fact that Kony tops many most wanted lists, yet remains in the bush, but not in Uganda. There are many critiques of the campaign, and instead of summarizing them, the best posts and stories that I have found are listed below:

Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (Foreign Policy)

The #Kony2012 Show (Africa Is  A Country)

Joseph Kony 2012 Video: ‘Stop Kony’ Campaign Draws Criticism (Huffington Post)

Fact Checking The ‘Kony 2012’ Viral Video (NPR)

Background: Obama Takes on the LRA (Foreign Affairs)

It’s a classic example of the white man’s burden, but that aside, the fact that the film’s primary actionable directive is to put pressure on the US government to keep their military ‘advisors’ in Uganda is perplexing. This seems to be a bit of a straw man fallacy because there doesn’t seem to be any movement to withdraw the ‘advisors’ from Uganda, thus why the need to concentrate support on a prescription that the American government has already initiated? In fact the US State Department has said there is no intention to remove US troops. The stories above raise many good points, but from a communications perspective this is an interesting look at how advocacy can be done in 2012, and what kind of precedent this sets for non-governmental organizations to call for military interventions.

Example of Campaign Branding for Kony 2012 from Invisible Children




Video of the Week:

  • I found this through a study that was published in another place, but when I looked up The Future of Africa, I found this site run by the South African-based Institute for Security Studies. It’s an interesting look at what the socio-development indicators are on track to reach by the mid-century. They have a cool video, which is embedded below:


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