MENNONITE CENTRAL COMMITTEE UGANDA
Response to the KONY 2012 Video and Debate
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches which shares God’s love and compassion for all in the name of Christ by responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice. MCC has worked in Uganda since 1979; and currently supports local church and community organizations in their efforts to end the war in northern Uganda.
We have watched Kony 2012, an Invisible Children video that went online on March 5, 2012, and has attracted several million viewers. In response, MCC Uganda would like to share the following perspective.
The conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda has spread beyond the boundaries of Uganda into Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Sudan and Central African Republic (CAR). Following the 2006 peace process between the two parties, the LRA has not re-entered the borders of Uganda. Since then Northern Uganda has embarked on recovery and reconstruction programs supported by the Uganda government and many nongovernment agencies. It is therefore grossly misleading for Invisible Children to emphasize a northern Ugandan context of 2003, for an international campaign of this magnitude today. A generation of night commuters, whose situation is emphasized in the video, has now grown into teenagers and adults, and is experiencing other post-conflict difficulties.
Over the years, the conflict in question has involved multiple actors beyond Joseph Kony and the LRA. Therefore any efforts to end the war must address all the key actors in the conflict, not only one individual. Furthermore, during the two decades of the LRA conflict, there have been several good attempts to stop the LRA. These efforts were mostly initiatives by the Ugandan people (political and civil society leadership), with many positive results achieved. However, the video is trying to mobilize mainly the American public as if there has been nothing done in the past about this war.
The image of Kony the ‘bad guy’ that is presented to the young boy in the movie by his father is disturbing, and reinforces negative stereotypes held by young Americans about Africa and its peoples.
The call for a military action to stop Joseph Kony is nothing new. This particular war has witnessed some of the most expensive but failed military operations in the past, namely; Operation North, Operation Iron Fist and Operation Lightning Thunder. MCC reaffirms its stand against the use of military approaches as the best option to end conflict. Past military offensives to stop Kony have not only failed, but have also caused thousands of civilian deaths. MCC is strongly opposed to such military offensives. We would like to stress that dialogue and reconciliatory processes that happened between 2006 and 2008 have led to the current relative peace in northern Uganda. MCC would further like to recognize and continue to support the tireless efforts by local groups to advocate for nonmilitary approaches to ending the war in the LRA-affected countries of Africa’s Great Lakes Region.
David Otim, Ronald Milne and Sally Jo Milne, on behalf of MCC Uganda
March 15, 2012