An online video, not ‘Cover the Night’ made Joseph Kony famous

On a narrow walkway in front of the National Portrait Gallery in central London youths have gathered. They are not here to go out on this rainy Friday night. They got together to “make Joseph Kony famous”. 

By Anne Saenen
Published by Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Africa Desk 

A video released last month by US activist group Invisible Children called for people around the world to cover cities with posters of Joseph Kony, the Ugandan leader of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA), to raise awareness about his activities.

The video, that was part of the Kony2012 campaign, went viral with more than 100 million viewers within weeks. #Kony2012 was the number one topic on Twitter and the video was shared among friends thousands of times on Facebook.

The ‘Kony2012 London Area Event’ is supported by more than six thousand people on the social networking site. But only around fifty have turned up. The group of young activists planned to cover Trafalgar Square with posters of Joseph Kony. But tonight iron barriers surround the square. Tomorrow St George day will be celebrated and due to preparations it is closed to the public. This is something the organisers of Kony 2012 London didn’t think of.

“It is not very well organised,” four friends, Danny, Toni, Vibeke and Charlotte agree. They carry a small amount of posters. In the last few hours they have put most of their posters up. “Security guards have taken them down again,” they complain.

Still the friends don’t think their actions are in vain. Twenty-one-year-old student Toni Jordan: “Although the problems with the LRA won’t be fixed overnight. Millions of people have watched the video on the internet. People of my generation all know who Joseph Kony is now. I’d never heard of him before and, see, I’m here hanging posters. To get people out is an achievement in itself.”

An older lady and her granddaughter approach the small group asking where the action is taking place. “Ah, it’s all over the place,” Danny tells them. “Do you have any posters with you?” The girl, 13-year old Mia Guercini, has a backpack full.

When she showed the video to her Cameroonian grandmother, Antonia Folivi, they decided to join the action together. She explains: “What I saw was moving and sad. Young lives in Uganda are being ruined. My granddaughter identified with the child soldiers her age who were shown in the video. These children should be free. They have the right to the same lives as children here.”

“These atrocities are happening on our doorstep. You cannot say: ‘I do not know’ because you can all see it on TV. We need to show our humanity and fight to make the world a better place.”

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