Editors Note: Peter Ngugi's review of KONY 2012 starts below. Go to end of review to see a new film of Ugandans calling B.S. on the original film, which they released in timing with today's global "Cover the Night" action by Invisible Children.
, Part Two: Beyond Famous
, the second installment of San Diego
-based non-profit Invisible Children
(IC) about Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony
and his Lord's Resistance Army
, has dropped. Gone are Jason Russell
and his five-year-old son, who are replaced by IC's CEO Ben Keesey
, a former corporate accountant turned humanist whose aim is to downplay the well-publicized "dehydration issues" of recovering Russell while at the same time trying to fend off criticism leveled against the group's simplistic but supersonically viral first film.
Fortunately for Keesey, Kony Part Deux has more color and I am not talking about Panavision but diversity, as in actual Ugandan people talking about their country, and not just Acholi folks from the Gulu area where Kony and his despised henchmen used to operate, but other tribes all the way south to the multi-ethnic Kampala. More importantly, the film actually highlights homegrown and localized solutions that were never explored in the original, toddler-friendly Kony 2012.
One: Civilian protection must be achieved on a nationwide basis. The myriad of experts interviewed in the updated documentary believe that security will not only deter future kidnappings but will go far in helping to bring a sense of peace and calm; a prerequisite for national reconciliation. Just calling Kony a bad guy, which seemed to be the purpose of the first film, isn't enough.
Two: A peaceful demobilization of the kidnapped, brainwashed victims must be achieved. It is here that the problem gets muddled a bit. The idea of an early warning radio system and the transmission of messages over the involved countries is brought up despite the area being geographically massive and having many different ethnicities, cultures and different languages. Kony and his cohorts are currently believed to reside in the eastern forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where French is the lingua franca. But most of the kidnapped victims speak their own dialect, Acholi as well as Swahili, while the remainder speak Luo. Unless the broadcasts are done in all the languages, there's no guarantee any particular listener will have a clue what they're hearing.
Three: Rehabilitation and reconstruction is bandied about, and many groups that were on the ground before IC are given lip service this time around and, most importantly, actual Ugandans are portrayed as being self-reliant masters of their own destiny, rather than simply as victims or charitable aid recipients--a massive contrast from the original Kony 2012.
Four: The arrest or surrender of Kony, the most obvious solution to the conflict, looks great on paper but an meaningful discussion of his hoped-for prosecution is ignored. Who gets the dibs on Kony and his rebels? The Uganda government? The International Criminal Court? I guess we'll have to wait for Kony Part Three for that information.
Overall, Kony 2012 Part Two has the distinct feeling of being the floor-cuttings of Part One, footage and interviews and statistics that would have made the original film much less of an embarrassment, but instead simply highlight how superficial the first effort really was. But as far as nuance goes, the Kony 2012 machine still has a long way to go. Halfway through the film, there's a photographic montage of Osama Bin Laden, Kony and Hitler.
I understand that IC is balls out to make Kony famous but comparing him to Hitler? He's not even Adi Amin.
Meanwhile, check out the short film Uganda Speaks
, in which actual Ugandans weigh in on KONY 2012.