x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

YouTube's Kony second

Can pop-star celebrities really focus the world's attention on a crazed killer in the African bush? It would be nice to think so.

Rihanna and Justin Bieber have succeeded this week where the UN and Hillary Clinton have failed: they got millions of people interested in a homicidal lunatic named Joseph Kony.

Other celebrities also clambered onto the bandwagon as an amateur YouTube video, sponsored by the questionable activist group Invisible Children, "went viral", in the mysterious manner of some internet phenomena. The clip now seems to be spreading exponentially.

Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army insurgents have been operating on Uganda's remote northern borders for more than 20 years, murdering, kidnapping children, looting, raping, even eating human flesh. They slip into the bush or across a border when pursued.

Governments and world bodies know all about him. Last autumn, the US sent 100 soldiers to help states in the region catch him. But in prosperous countries, Twittering young people, possibly unable to find Uganda on a map, have taken an interest only now because their idols, who may know only a little more, have pointed them in that direction.

The internet is young; its power untested. Will the brief alertness of Twitter followers help catch Joseph Kony? It would be nice to think so.