African critics of Kony campaign detect ‘White Man’s Burden’ syndrome

Robert Mackey writes about the continuing criticism of the viral marketing campaign designed to promote the company, Invisible Children:

While much of the backlash reported in the American news media this week cited objections raised by development experts in the United States and Europe, several African bloggers and activists have objected to what they see as a more fundamental problem. Among them, the possibility that the “Kony 2012″ campaign reinforces the old idea, once used to justify colonial exploitation, that Africans are helpless and need to be saved by Westerners.

Many African critics of the effort to make Mr. Kony, the brutal leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a household name said it echoed the ideas in Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “The White Man’s Burden,” written in 1899 to urge Americans to embrace their imperial destiny and rule over the “new-caught, sullen peoples,” of the Philippines — even though the typical native was “half-devil and half-child.”

In a critique of the campaign posted on YouTube, Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan blogger, said that “Kony 2012″ viral video summarizing the need for action played “so much on the idea that this war has been going on because millions of Americans” and other Westerners, had “been ignorant about it.”

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