Back in December, Ugandans Abroad put the spotlight on Black Star News, a small New York-based investigative site with an African perspective and a focus on Uganda. When “Kony 2012″ hit the Internet this month, a Black Star News editorial critical of the viral video received more hits than the website had ever experienced — and nearly crashed the server.
Brooklyn Ink‘s Vikram Patel, who interviewed Black Star News publisher and Ugandan native Milton Allimadi, provided some background on the video.
Allimadi’s editorial tapped the global frenzy sparked by the video, released by Invisible Children, a non-profit human rights group, that documents the atrocities committed under Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony and his militia, the Lord’s Resistance Army. The group’s video, made by its founder Jason Russell, has had over 58 million hits on YouTube in less than a week. And while it’s raised awareness for the “Stop Kony” campaign, including support from the Obama administration, it’s recently come under fire by observers like Allimadi.
Allimadi explains his critical reaction to the video.
“The way this documentary was done was simplistic, it was sensationalized, and even people in Uganda – particularly the region which had been affected by the conflict with Joseph Kony, the Acholi region of Uganda – are not supportive of this,” said Allimadi in an interview in his office.
The viral video may bring unintended consequences to an already war-torn region, says Allimadi and other Ugandan activists. For about six years now, Kony’s army has not been active in Uganda, and Allimadi says the last thing people want in Acholi – a region that was terrorized by Kony and his militia – is to instigate more conflict by calling for unnecessary violence.
Click on the player below to listen to the publisher as he relates the Acholi leaders’ confusion over Invisible Children’s “priorities,” and asks why is the campaign focusing on the Lord’s Resistance Army now.
Meanwhile, when Scott Eidler of Brooklyn Ink visited Brooklyn College, he found students turning away from the video as well, though for other reasons.
No rallies, no protests, no walkouts. The students say they’ve seen the Facebook posts, but no one seems to have done anything more than scan it quickly, repost the video or maybe send a fast tweet. The muted response, says Dwight Johnson, 28, who is studying social psychology and German, owes more to the school’s status as a commuter campus, which he believes limits organized action.
“Nobody has said anything beyond the point of, there’s a warlord in Africa,” says Johnson. “This is horrible, we should do something about it, but what is it?”
Steven Demberowsky, a freshman majoring in computer science, shared the video on his Facebook page. But he didn’t receive much feedback from his friends. He says they figure, “It’s a 30 minute video. I’m not watching the whole thing!”