Viral Video Educates World On Ugandan War Lord

The American non-profit group Invisible Children aims to raise awareness about Ugandan war lord Joseph Kony. A video the group made has gone viral on the Internet. Steve Inskeep talks to Barbara Among, a journalist with Uganda's Daily Monitor, to find out what Ugandans think of the campaign.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

General Ham mentioned that U.S. troops were deployed against a Ugandan rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army. A video documenting its kidnapping of tens of thousands of children for use as soldiers and sex slaves has spread on the Internet. In that video, activist Jason Russell talks to his son about his work in Uganda.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "KONY 2012")

JASON RUSSELL: What do I do for a job?

GAVIN RUSSELL: You stop the bad guys from being mean.

RUSSELL: Who are the bad guys?

RUSSELL: Um...

RUSSELL: Can I tell you the bad guy's name?

RUSSELL: Yeah.

RUSSELL: This is the guy, Joseph Kony.

INSKEEP: The bad guy, Joseph Kony, is the cult-like leader of the Lord's Resistance Army. The slickly produced video argues that Kony is still free because 99 percent of the world doesn't know who he is. That may be changing because, as of early this morning, "Kony 2012" had been viewed by over 46 million people.

To find out what Ugandans think of this, we've called Barbara Among. She's a journalist with Uganda's leading independent newspaper, the Daily Monitor.

What did you think when you first saw this video?

BARBARA AMONG: When I first saw the video, I thought that it's not meant for the audience in Uganda, but could work for the audience in America. Because we are - in Uganda, we know about the root cause of this war and we know where it's standing at the moment. And then also, the Ugandans who watched the video felt that it insulted their efforts, because it did not appreciate the efforts by individual Ugandans and by the Ugandan government.

INSKEEP: I suppose you're pointing to the fact that even though Kony is quite obviously a horrible person, his group has been pushed back by the Ugandan army, and is not even believe to be in your country anymore.

AMONG: Yes, the war ended six years ago in Uganda. And right now, in northern Uganda, what they're looking at right now is the reconstruction and the reconciliation process.

INSKEEP: Some critics have pointed out that the video does not do that good a job of pointing out what country Kony is actually in at the moment. But with that said, do people where you are see some value in simply calling the rest of the world's attention to this conflict, with this strange group whose aims are not at all clear, a conflict that's gone on for many years now?

AMONG: What people really, really think in my country, is that yes, it's good that the video is bringing awareness in America and other parts of the world. But if we look at what the video is calling for, it's calling for the capture of Kony. So if Kony is captured, another commander can easily take over and then the war will then continue. The video is not accurate in the root cause of this war, which is inequality, which is they feel left out by the current government in power. So, it's not presenting to people the real issues on the ground.

INSKEEP: Give us one other piece of information. How did the rebellion of the Lord's Resistance Army and the fight against it in your country change Uganda?

AMONG: The rebellion by the Lord's Resistance Army against the government of Uganda had a huge, huge impact on the northern part of the country, because over two million people were forced into the internally displaced people's camps. They had no ways of getting food, no access to medical services, and then also government had to divert money from the social services to the fighting of this war - to buying military equipment.

And then, now we have a generation of children who've not gone to school; a generation of parents who actually don't know what it means to work. So it's going to take another 40 years, maybe, for that region to recover from this war.

INSKEEP: We've been talking with Barbara Among. She's a journalist with Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper in Kampala.

Thanks very much.

AMONG: Thank you.

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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