Remember last year, when everyone was trying to find Joseph Kony, the Ugandan warlord and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army? Remember how “Kony 2012” took over social media, and yet he remains at large? Well, one man has stepped up. He’s going to find Kony.
Well, if you donate to his Indiegogo campaign. Canadian author and filmmaker Robert Young Pelton launched a crowdfunding project in late October, asking for $450,000 to fund a trip to for himself and his crew to Africa, to track down one of the world’s most wanted men. He’s calling it “Expedition Kony.”
The 58-year-old’s past projects include hosting the Discovery channel series The World’s Most Dangerous Places, and a series of survivalist books like Come Back Alive and The Adventurist. So, is this a legitimate campaign to end Kony’s reign of terror (President Obama offered a $5 million bounty for Kony earlier this year), or an effort to drum up publicity for Pelton’s new TV show or book about traveling to Africa to find Kony? According to the site, Pelton has been tracking Kony since 1993, but he now sees the potential of the Internet to take this hunt even further.
The campaign explains that your donation will go towards social justice:
“What will be created will be a feature length documentary, an online media channel and an intense relationship with a group of people committed to action. And that is just the first mission we want to complete. We have plenty more. And you will help choose those with your votes and dollars. At the successful end of our mission, you can say, “I Got Kony.”
The marketing and sloganeering of this campaign is a little weird. A donation of $100 gets you a t-shirt with the expedition’s logo on it, a copy of the book chronicling the adventure, when it’s completed. For a simple donation of $25,000, you can actually join the expedition team. (You must be “physically and mentally fit,” though.)
Pelton’s campaign isn’t the first time crowdfunding been used to “find” Kony. Last year, three grad students launched a fake site called Kickstriker, claiming they needed $3 million to capture him, though it actually functioned as an awareness-raising site. One of the founders cited Teju Cole’s March 2012 Atlantic article on the “white savior industrial complex.” As Kickstriker’s parody becomes reality, his story is resonating once again.
In an interview with the National Post, Pelton defended his campaign, and said it’s not a bounty hunt, but a way to “engage” the public. And what if he does find Kony? Pelton had this response:
“If Kony wants to just talk, we’ll talk. If he wants to go to the ICC and he wants me to take him there, I’ll handle that. I’m not going to walk up and shoot him in the face.”
The campaign has yet to reach even half of its $450,000 goal.
H/T Death and Taxes | Screengrab via Expedition Kony/Vimeo