Kony Context

General Context

The north of Uganda (Gulu and Kitgum) has a population of 700,000 with very few natural resources. The development of Kony’s Lord Resistance Army did not emerge suddenly, there were years of struggle for power and violence became an extremely effective tool to gain power. Another contributing factor to the struggle for power was the division of Uganda. The North and South of Uganda divided because of economic development and labor recruitment due to British control. The North essentially became cheap labor that was meant to be employed by the South.

Kony 2012

The Holy Spirit Movement (HSM) was formed by Alice and incorporated Christian power with spiritual and political freedom. The HSM attempted to address poverty, structural violence, personal feuds, and criminality. This group also recruited many followers and made alliances with rebels. The primary objective was to raid Uganda’s capital and free the North from government repression.


In 1987, Joseph Kony took over this group and founded the Lord’s Resistance Army. The group was responsible for abducting, killing, and displacing civilians in Africa. Kony failed to recruit and keep members in LRA so he began to steal food and abduct children, as a means to increase the number of participants. It is estimated that Kony abducted more than 30,000 people in Northern Uganda. Due to these actions, Kony lost all of his support and began to oppress the north.

“Kony forced children to kill their parents or siblings. He would abduct girls as sex slaves for his officers. He used the power of brainwashed children with lies” (Invisible Children 2012).

Political Context During

The African government attempted to make peace with Kony and his LRA. There were many peace talks that took place between the LRA and the government; howeveurlr, when the treaties were finalized Kony continually refused to sign the document. In retrospect, it is believed that Kony used the lag time during the peace talks to rest and regain energy, as the LRA members were given food, medicine, and clothes. The US launched an effort to find Kony called Operation Lightening Thunder. Unfortunately, this search failed as Kony heard about the attack before it happened.

U.S.A. Involvement

Jacob, a boy from Uganda, was concerned for his life because of how powerful Kony and the LRA had become. As a result, Invisible Children was formed. This organization sought to develop both short-term and long-term solutions. On March 5th, Invisible Children and Jason Russell released a youtube video in order to spread awareness about Kony and his LRA. This video has had over 104 million views and is cited as the most successful launch of a social media campaign in the history of social movements.


“The failure of the postering campaign, the very public mental breakdown of the filmmaker, and questions about the organization and its intentions on numerous blog posts led to an almost simultaneous dismissal of the movement” (Durington 2012; 103).