The makers of an explosively popular video that spotlighted the brutality of a Ugandan guerrilla leader have released a second video that redoubles their calls to stop Joseph Kony and grapples with some of the criticisms aimed at their controversial campaign.
Last month the San Diego-based nonprofit Invisible Children released a viral video urging the world to stop Kony, whose militia has terrorized northern Uganda and surrounding countries, kidnapping children and forcing them to fight as soldiers and serve as sex slaves.
Its goal was to make Kony so infamous that the world would demand his capture, it said. While Kony was already reviled, the campaign immediately became a flashpoint of debate. Critics said the video dangerously oversimplified the dilemma and made Western activists the stars.
The half-hour film met with frustration from many Ugandans who felt it gave a dated and inaccurate picture of their country. A series of screenings in northern Uganda spurred outrage by viewers. But other Ugandans praised it for the attention it gave to the grotesque horrors inflicted by Kony and his militia.
The new video, titled "Kony 2012: Part II -- Beyond Famous," is focused more heavily on Africans telling their stories. It emphasizes that the warlord's Lord's Resistance Army is now in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan -- not Uganda, a fact that was alluded to briefly in the first video.
The second video also outlines other efforts to help the communities victimized by Kony, including a radio network that warns people the militia is approaching. It highlights congressional resolutions and African Union backing for a regional force aimed at stopping the militia.
"Progress is being made and we are not stopping," the video says. "But neither is the LRA."
While Kony became better known than ever in the West, the notorious guerrilla group stepped up its attacks in Congo and the Central African Republic, displacing more than 4,200 people this year, the United Nations refugee agency said last week.
The militia leader is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of committing war crimes and has so far eluded joint efforts by Congo, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Uganda to stop him. The United States launched a military mission to Uganda last year to put a halt to the guerrilla group and help African forces remove Kony “from the battlefield,” thus far with no success.
Like the first video, the second video stresses the power of informed, caring people to change the world -- a message that some critics argued was really focused on empowering Westerners. Whether added awareness of the deadly militia will change things on the ground is the ultimate test for the campaign.
"Your voice changes everything," the video urges.
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Video: "Kony 2012: Part II - Beyond Famous." Credit: Invisible Children