We built a community around the idea that where you live shouldn’t determine how you live.
The unseen became visible.
Another video sensation has been doing the rounds on social media since Monday. Invisible Children’s feature ‘Kony 2012’ has, at last count, 446,139 YouTube hits.
Invisible Children was set up in 2004 by Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey and Laren Poole. The trio went to Africa in 2003 hoping to make a documentary on the Darfur (Jason is a film-maker by trade).
Instead, they were drawn into the conflict sweeping Central Africa, Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army and came back with a different idea.
A few years later, they released a powerful documentary titled ‘Invisible Children’, about the child soldiers kidnapped and mutilated by the LRA in the name of Joseph Kony.
In their own words, the company uses “the power of media to inspire young people to help end the longest-running armed conflict in Africa.”
These activities include a biannual film tour, social media campaigns and awareness-building events.
Invisible Children has also branched out to educational and microfinance initiatives.
Luis Moreno Ocampo, head prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, says that Kony is guilty of “war crimes against the civilian population, including murder, sexual slavery, rapes, abductions…we need to plan how to arrest him and it has to be serious. In fact, the only way to stop Kony is to show him, ‘Hey, we’re going to arrest you.’ “
Sento Okot Lapolo, a politician in Uganda, reiterates the country’s commitment to throwing Kony out of power.
We have to let the world know, we have to let the international community know, and to take justice to him, there. Follow him wherever he is, first to recover our children and then to deliver justice.
Norbert Mao, president of the Democratic Party, says they are determined to cooperate with an friend of Uganda to “ensure that this mindless killing and slaughter is ended.”
There’s also a more than a note of disappointment with the White House, when both Jason and John Pendergast of ‘Enough’ talk about Washington’s unwillingness to get involved if national security or financial stability isn’t at stake. “It’s not an important enough issue on the radar of American foreign policy”, Pendergast adds.
So Jason decided to help in his own way. They rebuilt schools, created jobs and put in place an early warning radio network on the frontline of the war, with real-time updates on the civil war.
One of their members explained that the strength of ‘Invisible Children’ comes from the sum of its parts:
I’ve talked to people from Mexico, Canada, every state I can think of…We’re all doing this for the same reason. And we all come from completely different places. This is what the world should be like.
Jim Inhofe, a Republican Senator from Oklahoma, was one of the first to voice his support for Invisible Children’s campaign of awareness and activism. “Of all the problems that are out there, none is more severe than one which mutilates and takes the lives of little kids.”
Congressman Jim McGovern, the Democratic representative from Massachusetts, added his voice: “So they [Invisible Children’s members] were determined to become their voice. They realised that these African children and families were invisible to Washington policymakers so they decided to make them visible.”
So visible that in October 2011, after eight years of campaigning, President Obama authorised 100 US Army advisors to go to Uganda and help train the nation’s army, so they may be able to find Joseph Kony and bring him to the ICC to stand trial for war crimes.
However in December, Kony changed his tactics and vanished even deeper into hiding. Little or no progress has been made since then to find him.
One of Invisible Children’s goals is to mobilise the local population through education, microfinance and other socioeconomic development tools, so they can take control of their country and help Kony’s regime fall.
Watch this video in full-screen.