Joseph Kony has gone from being unknown to one of the most uttered names around the world. Kony fever has been sweeping the internet after the organization, Invisible Children Inc., launched its Kony 2012 campaign, a 30-minute documentary that went viral, showing the havoc that Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army have been wreaking in African countries such as Uganda and Sudan.
Invisible Children implemented a plan of action to catch Kony by December 2012 and end his murders and use of children soldiers. On April 20, 2012, masses will take to the street to cover the globe with posters, stickers and signs, bringing awareness to Kony and attempting to lure him out of hiding and into the hands of the authorities.
Among the hype regarding Kony has been some discussion regarding Invisible Children and the way they opted to go about attempting to capture Kony.
Fort Hays State University’s American Democracy Project has also opted to educate students on the subject of child soldiers and Kony’s legacy, but has decided to take a neutral stance on the matter and instead teach students, faculty and staff why organizations like Invisible Children exist and what we can do to be more informed.
At 7 p.m. on April 4 in Cody Commons, ADP will be hosting the Uganda Dialogue: Kony, the People and the Country. That evening, ADP is planning to bring in two Ugandan natives to speak about their reaction to the campaign and what the country of Uganda is saying. ADP also plans to Skype with an intern of Invisible Children, former Fort Hays student Brady Peters, to speak about Invisible Children’s response to their global campaign.
Senior Jen Verhagen, student coordinator of ADP, said the event will help inform students on issues at hand without taking a biased approach.
“There are two different viewpoints on Kony 2012. There is one saying that Cover the Night is a good way to deal with the issue, and there are others that disagree with the issue. What Fort Hays wants to do is focus more on the issue for children soldiers and what can be done about that issue,” Verhagen said. “We aren’t taking any sides, so instead we are going to take an educational approach and see what we can do about the issue.”
For Verhagen, the issue of child soldiers has been one she has been passionate about throughout the years, and that passion has continued into her college career. Verhagen said although she was excited that news was being drummed up about the issue of child soldiers, it shouldn’t have to take an Internet phenomenon to inform people about the tragedy taking place in Africa.
“When I heard about the Kony 2012 campaign, I was excited that more people were becoming aware about the issue and that they were starting to become more passionate. Child soldiers have been around for a long time, and now a lot of people saw the video and want to do something, which is awesome. But we also have to realize that just showing a video isn’t going to create a solution,” Verhagen said. “You can be aware about the issue all you want. … It’s whether or not they want to go above that awareness and do something about it. Kids can watch the video and be passionate about it and Facebook it, saying they want to cover the night, but what’s going to happen after that? We need to look at the future.”
Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science student Shaley White said that although ADP is taking a neutral stance on the issue, they are trying to encourage students to take part in the Kony 2012 activities and inform them on how to become more proactive in regards to this issues and issues similar to it.
“I think it’s really important that just because ADP isn’t taking a side on the issue doesn’t mean students should be discouraged in taking part in Kony 2012. We don’t want students to not do anything about this because it is an issue, and it’s really hard to deny it. It’s not something that we should stand back and ignore. We’re going to have to do something politically active about this issue. It’s not something that we can just rally about in the United States without taking some sort of action,” White said.
“Even if that means teaching our generation how to be politically active and lobbying and writing to our representatives and senators to make decisions for us. Even taking action and going over to another country to learn about the issues there, but not just staying here and telling their friends and not doing more about it.”
For more information about Kony 2012 and ADP’s involvement, visit the blog at adpfhsu.org. ADP will be posting updates, articles and videos to help the public become more informed and stay on top of the coverage of Kony 2012.