Since a few days I’ve seen quite some publicity about Invisible Childrens’ Kony2012 campaign. I looked at the video with very mixed feelings. The filmer and his son are almost more important than the children who are victims and the bad guy Joseph Kony in Africa himself. Nonetheless I would never say you shouldn’t support the initiative. Of course Kony should be caught as soon as possible. But what then?
Kony is leader of the LRA, the Lord’s Resistance Army. That means that it has a commanding structure. That means that this army will not just stop existing at the day Kony is caught. Others will take over, the children will go on suffering, and the population in the area where Kony is caught will feel the consequences: revenge. That’s how it always is.
My problem with the campaign is that it implicitly suggests that with Kony’s capture the problems are over. No they are not. Unicef USA said in a reaction to the campaign that there are probably 250,000 childsoldiers in more than 20 countries in the world. There are quite a lot of Konies and we got to stop them all. That’s not easy, it takes time to find out where these warlords are. The population usually is very scared to talk, because the risk is that people are killed for being ‘traitors to the warlord’s cause’.
Children become childsoldiers because they are kidnapped or because they join an army or a guerrilla group because they think they will get a better treatment there than at home. Of course they find out that is not true, but then they cannot escape anymore. If you run away and they get you, you’ll be killed. That’s usually the rule.
It’s the government’s and justice’s task to find and trial these warlords who abuse children in their armies, and it’s also the goverment’s task to take care of all its citizens, also those in the most far away and abandoned regions. It’s in these regions that people are vulnerable to violent groups.
If Kony gets caught, other Konies will rise, so that’s why a further reaching solution is necessary. But the Kony2012 is a good start, so that’s why I don’t want to criticize it too much. Well… no, it isn’t a start. Unicef, Save the children, Warchild and many many local organisations in countries where childsoldiers exist are doing a lot to help former childsoldiers and to help children and their parents, in order to prevent their recruitment. So I suggest that you have a look what is a bigger help to these vulnerable people before you spend your energy and/or money. And at the same time I do hope that Kony gets caught and I do hope they will take care of his army too, the ones who give the orders and their victims in the army: the children. Of course it’s two kinds of care that should be taken: justice and really good care.
You know what, they are late, Invisible Children. Some of the commanders in Kony’s army must have been recruited as children themselves. This has been going on for such a long time already. See how complicated it is?