Friday, March 8, 2013

Kony 2012: Viral video revisited

How everyone has forgotten the message

by Alyssa Fountain, Guest Writer
Just one year ago this week, Invisible Children released the video "Kony 2012," a cry for acknowledgement of a horrific war that has torn across northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

You all know what happened: within a week the video went viral, gaining both positive and negative attention. Everyone was talking about it.

After years of this horrific war killing off and maiming the people in the countries I love, I was excited to see attention being brought to the horrors of the war that tore apart my home country: Uganda.

My family moved to Uganda when I was 10, and we lived there for eight years. While I was there, I saw firsthand the effects of this horrific war and got to know many of the people who had been affected.

When I came back to the U.S. last July, I wondered if people would still be talking about Kony 2012, and what the awareness levels around PLU would be like. I had hoped that it would raise more awareness about what happened in Uganda.

Instead, I was surprised to find that most people had forgotten about the video.

I got a lot of questions like "isn’t that all made up?" I can assure you it isn’t.

I have heard horror story after horror story, and to me this war is a very strong reality.

In the past year, the U.S. has sent more than 100 troops to help provide intelligence to the Ugandan government. It is a shock to hear people doubt that it happened — they have stopped caring.

A lot of people started to say that the war never happened. Some people claimed that Invisible Children blew it out of proportion. Even worse, this horrific war turned into a trend, and we all know what happens to trends — they get left behind. And this is what happened to our humanitarian concern: it was forgotten.

Moreover, Kony 2012 got so much bad press that it caused the video to disappear from everyone’s knowledge. A lot of people accused the video of being too simple, while others accused it of taking a small problem and turning it into this huge thing.

People said that Invisible Children had made the whole thing up. Partly because of this, everyone rushed to forget that Kony 2012 had ever been a part of life. It was a trend turned bad. But it is not a trend for the people in the areas affected by this violence.

The areas affected by Kony’s rebel group, the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), are still hugely disadvantaged. In northern Uganda, the pain is still palpable. Though the LRA have not been active there since 2007, there are still so many orphans and people affected by the war, not to mention returned child soldiers and sex-slaves. If anything, now is time to rebuild.

There is one mistake in all of this, though. We’re assuming that since the LRA has left Uganda, everything is okay. About a week ago, another rebel group took over villages in the Congo, causing 4,000 people to flee across the border into Uganda in one night.

I feel like people dismiss the LRA violence as being comparable to gang violence around the U.S. I don’t even know what to say to this. I wish people could see the direct effects of what happened, because personally, nothing will ever erase the image I have of some starving war orphans at a massacre memorial in northern Uganda.

It is not hype.

It is not a trend.

It is not over.

The affected areas are still in a state of destruction. Let us not, in our hurry to move on to the next trend, forget the reality of these lives.