Kony activists set to ‘cover the night’

20th Apr 2012
Written by: Andrew Tipp

Kony activists set to ‘cover the night’

Campaign to raise awareness of Joseph Kony takes to the streets

A month ago the Kony 2012 campaign film went viral across the globe. The video became a genuine cultural phenomenon, with more than 100 million views online and countless news stories, blogs and TV shows dedicating time to analysing its merit, significance and impact.

Now Invisible Children, the non-profit organisation behind the Kony 2012 film, are following up their promise to take the campaign to the next level with the ‘Cover The Night’ initiative. This event encourages followers of Kony 2012 to hit the streets on Friday 20 April and take part in a number of volunteer grassroots activities.

The organisers claim the purpose of the initiative is to promote awareness of Joseph Kony. Kony, the Ugandan military leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, is accused of committing atrocities in central Africa such as ordering the abduction of children to become sex slaves and soldiers.

Cover The Night supporters believe that by making the Kony 2012 campaign highly visible in the physical world through the proliferation of branded t-shirts, posters, graffiti and campaign-backed community work, there will be a substantial increase in demand for political leaders take action in bringing Kony to justice.

Although the main bulk of activity tonight is expected to take place within the United States, almost 10,000 people have used the UK Facebook event page to confirm that they will be taking part in Cover The Night.

The Kony 2012 campaign has been incredibly successful in its initial goal of making Joseph Kony famous. Through their slick videos, sophisticated branding, shrewd propaganda and ability to build a groundswell of interest Invisible Children has already made Kony more famous than many would have imagined possible.

But the campaign has not been without controversy. Kony 2012 has received criticism from many for oversimplifying a complex issue and misleading followers over the location and active threat level of Kony himself. The group has also been accused of creating an unnervingly cult-like movement, and have faced accusations that they have spent a disproportionate amount of their income on marketing rather than directly funding projects in Uganda.

The public face of Invisible Children, Jason Russell, created further controversy for the organisation when he was detained by police after nakedly acting erratically on the streets of San Diego. He was diagnosed with a ‘brief reactive psychosis’.

Whatever the criticisms of the Kony 2012, it’s undeniable that Invisible Children have brilliantly combined a mixture of social networking platforms with an impressive understanding of the principles for uniting mass movements. In doing so they have created one of the most incredible grassroot political campaigns in living memory.

The next few days will tell both whether the initial momentum generated from the Kony 2012 video buzz has been sustained, and whether the online demand for justice will translate into action in the real world.

Just in case you somehow missed the original Kony 2012 video you can check it out below.

Visit the official Kony 2012 site for more information.

What do you think of the Kony 2012 phenomenon? Will you be ‘covering the night’ on Friday 20 April? What so you think whole campaign will ultimately achieve?

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