Joseph Kony 2012: child at centre of viral hit defends film

Mr Acaye was taken prisoner by Joseph Kony's Lord’s Resistance Army when it attacked his home village of Koro, near Gulu in 2002. His brother was killed.

He was able to escape after “getting lucky” after three weeks, and found his way back to his village. He was found by the group behind the video, while sleeping on a veranda in Gulu. He was one of hundreds of children who walked every night from his village to Gulu to sleep for safety.

In an interview with the Guardian, Mr Acaye, who is now 21, said: “Until now the war that was going on has been a silent war. People did not really know about it.

“Now what was happening in Gulu is still going on elsewhere in the Central African Republic and in Congo. What about the people who are suffering over there? They are going through what we were going through.”

He continued: “They could not understand what was happening. They wanted a kid who was sleeping there and who spoke English. I could understand English and I could say what was happening, so that is how I was in their film,

The 30-minute video, Kony2012, was produced by three US videographers campaigning for greater efforts to capture Kony, the leader of the LRA. The video has been viewed on YouTube alone almost 50 million times in the last five days.

The Obama administration congratulated the people behind the viral internet campaign.

Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, hailed the "hundreds of thousands of Americans who have mobilised to this unique crisis of conscience."

Despite the success of the campaign, there has been growing outrage in Uganda over the viral film.

Critics argue Kony and his diminishing troops, many of them kidnapped child soldiers, fled northern Uganda six years ago and are now spread across the jungles of neighbouring countries.

“What that video says is totally wrong, and it can cause us more problems than help us,” said Dr Beatrice Mpora, director of Kairos, a community health organisation in Gulu, a town that was once the centre of the rebels’ activities.

“There has not been a single soul from the LRA here since 2006. Now we have peace, people are back in their homes, they are planting their fields, they are starting their businesses. That is what people should help us with.”

The video aims to make Kony “famous” by encouraging supporters to plaster US cities with posters, in order to make the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army an issue of “national interest” to Washington.

That, the video’s makers claim, will ensure funding for 100 US military advisors sent to train African armies to find Kony will continue.

“Suggesting that the answer is more military action is just wrong,” said Javie Ssozi, an influential Ugandan blogger.

“Have they thought of the consequences? Making Kony ‘famous’ could make him stronger. Arguing for more US troops could make him scared, and make him abduct more children, or go on the offensive.”

Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan journalist specialising in peace and conflict reporting, said: “This paints a picture of Uganda six or seven years ago, that is totally not how it is today. It’s highly irresponsible”.

There were criticisms that the film quoted only three Ugandans, two of them politicians, and that it spent more time showing the filmmaker's five-year-old son being told about Joseph Kony than explaining the root causes of the conflict.

Invisible Voices has faced criticism over its finances. Of more than £6 million it spent in 2001, less than £2.3 million was for activities helping people on the ground. The rest went on “awareness programmes and products”, management, media and others.

“It is totally misleading to suggest that the war is still in Uganda,” said Fred Opolot, spokesman for the Ugandan government.

“I suspect that if that’s the impression they are making, they are doing it only to garner increasing financial resources for their own agenda.”

Invisible Children said the video focused on Uganda because its "people and government...have a vested interest in seeing him stopped".

"The LRA was active in Uganda for nearly 20 years, displacing 1.7 million people and abducting at least 30,000 children," it said in statement.

The Telegraph