Is the (out)rage over #KONY2012 subsiding?

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Michael Lipnick
Michael is a graduate of the University of California at San Francisco Medical School and Internal Medicine Residency Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA. Michael is completing additional training in anesthesia and critical care and continues to pursue his interests in perioperative and trauma care in resource-constrained settings. Michael is a co-founder of the Global Health Hub and Global Partners in Anesthesia and Surgery (GPAS).

As I write this post, the #KONY2012 video is >60 million views (YouTube+Vimeo) and counting. 1,088,635 likes, 43,358 dislikes – at least according to #YouTube. The voting in the blogosphere and mainstream media is obviously far less favorable for Invisible Children.

There is no need summarize the background or the debate here… you probably already know, and several others (see below) have done that quite well.

I am not surprised by the reactions from the public or the blogosphere, but am somewhat taken back by the amount of anger and energy being provoked.

I am an American and like many, have worked in Uganda for NGOs. I am no expert, but it doesn’t take long working in Uganda to realize the criticisms of Invisible Children’s #kony2012 could be applied to a large portion of the other NGO/humanitarian efforts in Uganda (where it is estimated than one NGO exists for every 3500 Ugandans).

Is this the first time an NGO:

  • may have been driven primarily by “Northern/western/white/foreign/mzungu” “partners”?
  • may be spending significant money on a project that might be misguided?
  • … may be doing something that would be better driven locally?
  • may be ineffectively utilizing donations?
  • … may have twisted or misstated facts in a campaign?
  • … may have spent “excessive” funding on media?
  • … may have oversimplified a complex issue?
  • …and the list goes on…

This week has summoned an interesting bandwagon. Below are some sources more insightful and informed than I (find more complete list via  “A reader’s digest of KONY 2012” from and tweets by @viewfromthecave).


“Unpacking Kony 2012” – Article by @ethanZ article published 03/08/2012 on his own blog, “My heart’s in Accra,”  Zuckerman hashes out the #KONY2012 background, criticisms, theory of change, and the problems of oversimplification.

A reader’s digest of KONY 2012” from

“Why #Kony2012 Deserves More of your Time Than a 30 Minute Video” – by @viewfromthecave

“KONY2012 – a story in one flavour” – by @ithorpe on his blog KM on a dollar a day.

“Impact Measurement, Part 2: Questions We Can Ask About Kony 2012” by Meg Nanson

“KONY2012: Our leaders have failed us “- by Mafoya Dossoumon, Author and Africa Enthusiast

“A Peace of my mind: Respect my agency 2012!” by Ugandan TMS Ruge

“#StopKony2012: For most Ugandans Kony’s crimes are from a bygone era” – By Ugandan journalist Angelo Izama

“Can a viral video really #stopkony?” by Rebekah Heacock at Global Voices

Joseph Kony 2012: It’s fine to ‘Stop Kony’ and the LRA. But Learn to Respect Africans.” By Semhar Araia, Guest blogger for the Christian Science Monitor.

African voices respond to hyper-popular Kony 2012 viral campaign rounds up replies to #kony2012 from African writers, journalists, activists…

“Joseph Kony and Crowdsourced Intervention” – Jack McDonald, Kings of War

“Invisible Children founders posing with guns: an interview with the photographer” – Elizabeth Flock, Washington Post

“The #StopKony Backlash: Complexity and the Challenges of Slacktivism” – by Tom Watson, Contributor to Frobes

“Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (and other complicated things)” – Michael Wilkerson, Foreign Policy

“Stop #Kony2012. Invisible Children’s campaign of infamy“– Ugandan journalist Angelo Opi-aiya Izama

“Kony2012; My response to Invisible Children’s campaign” – Rosebell Kagumire

‘Kony 2012’ Video About Vicious Rebel Leader Raises Awareness, Criticism” -by Laura Epatko from PBS News Hour.