A reader's digest of KONY 2012
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A reader’s digest of KONY 2012

A reader’s digest of KONY 2012

The rate at which the video ‘Kony 2012’ went viral on 7th March 2012 is quite astonishing, but unsurprising and perhaps predictable. Just as the comments and responses to the video, and the organisation that produced it (Invisible Children), are also quite astonishing, unsurprising and predictable. If you have not already, you can watch the video below.

According to Vimeo, the video had a respectable 58,000 plays of March 5th. On March 6th, 2.7 million. On March 7th, another 2.7 million for a three day total of 5.4 million. Truly remarkable.

 (Update on the 12th March GMT: According to The Visible Measures Blog, ” As of this morning, the Kony campaign has generated well over 100 million views, 112 million to be exact. The views come from over 750 clips across the web, most coming from video responses to the campaign. There are even translated and subtitled versions of the documentary popping up in Spanish, Italian, French, and Chinese. There are over 860,000 comments for the campaign”. Topping 100 million views in six days makes it the most viral video in history, beating out Susan Boyle, Lady Gaga and ‘Laughing Baby’).

There are a growing number of critical responses to both the video and the organisation. Both Chris Blattman and the team at Wrong Rights made a number of cutting observations in 2009 (this particularly video is the 12th installment of a long-running series, to which Invisible Children allocate a majority of their funding). We will update this list with new posts, articles and tweets that seek to take on this latest phenomenon in fundraising and advocacy, to make sure you get a balanced diet of KONY 2012. It is unfortunate timing, as the 8th of March is International Women’s Day, and this will surely detract (and this post is not helping, I know).


International Justice, Local Injustice (Dissent Magazine) by Adam Branch


Joseph Kony Of Lord’s Liberation Army indicted by ICC (Owen Barder)


What to Do About Joseph Kony (John Prendergast – Center for American Progress)


How Joseph Kony is keeping his options open (The Guardian)


Visible children (Chris Blattman)

Worst idea ever? (Wronging Rights)


How do you solve a problem like Joseph Kony? (The Guardian)

‘All People Are the Same to God’: An Insider’s Portrait of Joseph Kony (NY Times)

Bizarre Marketing: Invisible Children (A view from the cave)


‘Why is the US sending its troops to finish off a fractured band of bush fighters in the middle of Africa?’ (Africa is a Country) This was written in response to President Obama’s announcement to send 100 ‘special forces’ into Uganda to flush out Kony and his fighters. Read for some much needed context and Ugandan views.

6th March, 2012

Invisible Children and Joseph Kony (Wanderings)

7th March, 2012

Selling Old Newspapers Shouldn’t Be Profitable: Invisible Children and Kony 2012 (Travelling While Black)

Stop Kony, yes. But don’t stop asking questions (The Independent – Blogs)

You don’t have my vote (Unmuted)

Let’s talk about kony (Securing rights)

We got trouble (Visible Children)

Bad guys, good guys, and the people in between (How Matters)

Taking ‘Kony 2012′ Down A Notch (Justice in Conflict)

Joseph Kony and Crowdsourced Intervention (Kings of War)

On Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 Campaign (Siena Anstis)

The Definitive ‘Kony 2012′ Drinking Game (Wronging Rights)

Invisible Children: Saviors or Sensationalists? (UN Dispatch) Alanna Shaikh & Mark Goldberg

Invisible Children – Pretty Dang Visible (The Duck of Minerva)

ON DONATING TO KONY 2012. (Dear Coquette)

A cautionary tale: Kony 2012 – The backlash (Under The Banyan)

#Kony2012 and its critics (Aljazeera)

I like Jimmy Choos, and I Hate Cheap Beer. Otherwise Know as The Reasons Why #Kony2012 is Being Criticized. (Voy’em)

Think Twice Before Donating to Kony 2012, the Charitable Meme du Jour (Jezebel)

Catching Joseph Kony (Blackslash Scott Thoughts)

Guest post: Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (and other complicated things) (Foreign Policy)

Acholi Street. Stop #Kony2012. Invisible Children’s campaign of infamy (ANGELO OPI-AIYA IZAMA)

Invisible Children responds to criticism about ‘Stop Kony’ campaign (Washington Post)

The #Kony2012 show (Africa is a Country)

The problem with Kony 2012 (Hands Wide Open)

Visible Children: Viewed Critically (John Rudolph Beaton) A personal view from a staff member of Invisible Children in response

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery: exploding the Kony 2012 myth (Harry Verhoeven)

8th March 2012

The Problem With Invisible Children’s “Kony 2012” (Huffington Post)

KONY2012 – Why their success is bad for Uganda (mike clay)

On Kony2012 & the Role of Advocates (whereever you go, there you are)

5 questions for a post-Kony 2012 debate (Aidnography)

Invisible Children and its Kony 2012 campaign in the spotlight (The Globe and Mail)

Machiavelli and Cause Marketing (Holstee)

Critiques (the Invisible Children Inc.) A response from the organisation itself

A Peace of my mind: Respect my agency 2012! (Project Diaspora)

One girl’s guide to Kony 2012 (Wait…What?)

Why #Kony2012 Deserves More of your Time Than a 30 Minute Video (A View From The Cave)

Uganda: Can a Viral Video Really #StopKony? (Global Voices)

Unpacking Kony 2012 (…My heart’s in Accra)

Solving War Crimes With Wristbands: The Arrogance of ‘Kony 2012’ (The Atlantic) By crew at Wronging Rights

The Soft Bigotry of Kony 2012 (The Atlantic)

Why You Should Not Donate To Invisible Children/Kony 2012 (Hugo O’Doherty)

#StopKony2012: For most Ugandans Kony’s crimes are from a bygone era (African Arguments)

Joseph Kony 2012: growing outrage in Uganda over film (The Telegraph)

KONY2012 – a story in one flavour (KM on a dollar a day)

Joseph Kony 2012: It’s fine to ‘Stop Kony’ and the LRA. But Learn to Respect Africans. (CS Monitor) Written by @semhar

Kony2012; My response to Invisible Children’s campaign. (Rosebell’s Blog) aka @Rosebellk

Massive viral video campaign against African warlord hits and misses (Humanosphere)

Stopping Kony, or stopping video activism? (dochasnetwork’s blog)

Care about Joseph Kony? Care about Uganda? For a bit of lighthearted, but poignant, humour

Kony 2012: history, nuance, and advocacy’s Golden Rule (Find What Works)

Joseph Kony and the White Man’s Burden (okayafrica)

9th March 2012

African Reactions to the Kony 2012 Campaign (afriPOP!)

African voices respond to hyper-popular Kony 2012 viral campaign (boingboing)

The women who survived Kony’s war (ethnic supplies)

VIEWPOINT: A Partial Defense Of Invisible Children’s Kony2012 Campaign (Thinkprogress)

Child abductee featured in Kony 2012 defends film’s maker against criticism (The Guardian)

Kony 2012 campaign: Oprah and bracelets won’t solve problem (The Guardian)

Joseph Kony Is Infamous — But Will He Be Caught? (NPR)

Kony 2012 director says it’s not about money while campaign makes millions (Jezebel)

‘Kony 2012’ creator makes the rounds as Uganda campaign goes viral (TVNewser)

Capturing Kony (Human Rights Watch)

Kony 2012: A View from Northern Uganda (National Geographic)

African Critics of Kony Campaign See a ‘White Man’s Burden’ for the Facebook Generation (NY Times)

Joseph Kony springs into infamy (Amnesty International Australia)

the Invisible Children debate – my 2 cents worth (Bethany Duffield)

Before you give, think! (Unmuted)

Lives of Facebook users given meaning simply by watching Kony video (The Daily Autocrat)

Kony’s victims and the Kony 2012 video (The Guardian)

How the Kony video went viral (The Guardian)

Kony 2012: Video campaign more like a fashion thing, says Ugandans (thestar.com)

Kony 2012 may be flawed, but slacktivism isn’t the enemy (Mashable)

The Kony 2012 video phenomenon (Evan Lieberman)

KONY 2012′, and a military solution to the LRA crisis (The Africanist)

Kony 2012 Won’t Change the Lives of Ugandans (Dissent Magazine) by Adam Branch

The Value of a Global Discussion (NY Times: Room for Debate)

#KONY2012 – The good, the bad, and the media (Daniela Papi in Lessons I Learned)

10th March

The only interesting question on Kony 2012 – why did it get 60 million hits? (From Poverty to Power)

Kony 2012 gets 70m hits in a week (The Guardian)

Kony 2012: US state department – we have no intention of leaving Uganda (The Guardian)

3 factors that made the world pay attention to #KONY2012 (Richenda G)

My thoughts on KONY 2012 (and a defense of Invisible Children?) (Chris Blattman)

A Ugandan Reflection on Kony 2012 (Peace Direct)

How Kony2012 gets it wrong (Jackee Budesta Batanda)

White Man Carries His New Burden in #Kony Tote Bag (The Grumpy Owl)

The Worst Killer of Invisible Children is Not Joseph Kony (Give Well)

In whose interests do NGO’s work? -Invisible Children #Kony (Birds on the Blog)

Don’t Elevate Kony (World Peace Foundation)

‘Kony 2012’: How not to change the world (CNN)

11th March

Guest post: Kony 2012 and a look inside the Invisible Children organization (Find What Works)

While the world is stopping Kony, there’s lots more to do in Africa (The Globe and Mail)

Central Africa: Don’t Elevate Joseph Kony (African Arguments)

Open letter to Jason Russell CEO of Invisible Children Inc on KONY2012 (Acholi Times)

7 Africa stories you missed while Facebooking KONY2012 (CS Monitor)

Invisible Children, Joseph Kony And The Ugandan Dictatorship (Government in the lab)

Kony 2012 Hoax Exposed (Infowars.com)

12th March

#StopKONY Now!!! (NY Times)

#Ugandans 2012 (Canadian International Council)

Opinion: Why Kony 2012 created the wrong buzz (CNN)

Forget Kony, Ugandans Are Being Slaughtered By Their Own Western-Backed Government (Prison Planet)

#Kony2012 is ‘magical’ (Africa is a Country)

The Untold Truth Behind Kony 2012 and Invisible Children (blogtalkradio)

Not a Click Away: Joseph Kony in the Real World (Warscapes)

Searching for Closure: A Kony2012 Postscript (How Matters) w/ Solome Lemma (@InnovateAfrica)

14th March

The Road to Hell Is Paved with Viral Videos (Foreign Policy)

15th March

Revealed! Kony 2012’s sinister Musical Comedy roots (boingboing)

16th March

An Open Letter to Invisible Children Supporters (Uncultured)

17th March

Kony 2012 campaigner Jason Russell detained for public rampage (Guardian)

Sharing Public Breakdowns: What We Can Learn From Jason Russell (The Atlantic)

20th March

Kony 2012: Former Porn Actress Bree Olson Films ‘Naked For Kony 2012’ (NSFW, Huffington Post)

21st March

Guest Post: I’ve met Joseph Kony and Kony 2012 isn’t that bad (Foreign Policy)

The White Savior Industrial Complex (The Atlantic)

23rd March

No Longer Invisible (Foreign Policy)

28th March

Learning from Kony 2012 (4-part series) (CIHA blog)

4th April

7th April

Kony Part II: Accountability, not awareness

19th April

New Photos Show a Reality the ‘Kony 2012′ Video Misses (Wired)

20th April

Beyond Kony2012 Atrocity, Awareness, & Activism in the Internet Age (Amanda Taub) an ebook feat. Teddy Ruge, Alanna Shaikh and more.

A life without Kony (UgandaSpeaks)

Making Sense of Kony (A diverse group of scholars and activists) feat. Carol Jean Gallo, Chris Blattman and more.

Ugandan bloggers speak out about Kony2012 (Aljazeera)



Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire responds to the campaign video.

School children in the UK voice their responses after watching the campaign video.

Northern Ugandans react after watching the campaign video for the first time.



“The central thesis of #Kony2012 is that social media can be exploited to place great crimes in a bright spotlight. Hard to criticise that.” (Tim Minchin)

“Interesting video on Joseph Kony. Can someone give me the uncensored answer on why we takeover other countries but won’t stop Mr. Kony?” (Chad Ochocinco)

“PLEASE go to http://www.Invisiblechildren.com Even if its 10 minutes… Trust me, you NEED to know about this! #1LOVE” (Rihanna)

#StopKony2012 is targeting privileged,educated,mostly white youth to care abt Africa by fighting LRA.I expect a more nuanced formula by now” (Semhar)

“My basic premise is that the awareness of American college students is NOT a necessary condition for conflict resolution in Africa.” (Laura Seay)

“We don’t need to give Africans a voice. We need to give everyone else ears” (Solar Sister)


The filmmakers posing with members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (Credit: Glenna Gordon)

On this photo

Invisible Children, the next chapter (Scarlett Lion)

Why Invisible Children can’t explain away this photo (Scarlett Lion)


Many tips of the hat to friends and colleagues who shared links on Facebook and Twitter. Of note, Tom Murphy and @seenfromafar



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Brendan Rigby

Managing Director & Co-founder at WhyDev
Brendan is an education specialist and co-founder of WhyDev. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education exploring complementary basic education and the literacy practices of out-of-school children in northern Ghana. Formerly, he was an Education Officer with UNICEF Ghana, and Director of Venture Support with StartSomeGood. Brendan has also been an education consultant and trainer for Plan, UNICEF, ScopeGlobal and the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. He is obsessed with tea, American football and karaoke.

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57 thoughts on “A reader’s digest of KONY 2012

  1. Really… such a valuable online site

  2. […] the now infamous KONY 2012 campaign has become (allegedly) the most viral video in history, the interwebs have almost exploded with commentary on all sides of the debate. So in that regard, […]

  3. […] the coverage in the Guardian, for an entry point into the latter, see this digest, published on whydev.org). Whilst much of what has been written so far has responded positively to the film, a large number […]

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