Is the viral video campaign that rocketed Joseph Kony to international fame last week just some "slick, kind of fly-by-night, slacktivist thing"?
"Not at all," according to Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children, the organization responsible for the campaign. In a new, eight-and-a-half-minute clip released on Monday (above), Keesey responded to a few of the film's criticisms that surfaced last week.
"It's connected to a really deep, thoughtful, very intentional and strategic campaign," Keesey said of the film that aims to make Joseph Kony, the leader of a militant rebel group called the Lord's Resistance Army, a household name.
The campaign, which went viral last week using the hashtag #STOPKONY, came under fire for the organization's spending practices as well as the film's over-simplification and, at times, misrepresentation of the current situation in Uganda.
In the video above, Keesey explains the organization's expenditures in greater detail, and clears up a few other points that the original video seemed to skim over (such as the fact that the LRA "used to be" in Uganda, but no longer operates there).
"Any claims that we don't have financial transparency ... or that we don't have financial integrity, just aren't true," Keesey said.
The first minute of the new film, which focuses on Keesey's college graduation and job offer from the firm Deloitte, doesn't really help alleviate criticisms that the campaign is more about the filmmakers than it is about the LRA. The new clip also does not address criticism of the organization's troubling support for military action. "Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People's Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them," the blog 'Visible Children' notes.
Perhaps most importantly, the LRA's presence in Uganda is "from a bygone era," as Ugandan journalist Angelo Izama writes. A "much more urgent problem" than the Lord's Resistance Army is ravaging Northern Uganda. A mysterious, fatal disease known as "Nodding Disease" has confounded experts and affected thousands of children. According to Global Health Frontline News, the condition results in the loss of cognitive abilities and stunted growth, as well as creating other dangers.
From Global Health Frontline News:
"They can fall into cooking fires when losing consciousness. Drown during a seizure. Die of opportunistic infections that strike the malnourished. Or they may simply be abandoned by their families."
You can tweet more questions for the organization Invisible Children at @invisible with the hashtag #ASKICAnything.
Or, if you're looking for alternative ways to help, Visible Children has provided a list of other organizations operating on the ground in Central Africa that focus on direct action more than awareness.
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