For Jason Russell, co-founder of Invisible Children, stumbling into Uganda’s one-time civil war wasn’t an accident; it was a divine calling.
While the rest of the world laughs at or ponders the psych ward-ridden creator of Kony 2012, the unlikely Internet video sensation that brought both himself and a vicious Ugandan rebel instant and overwhelming fame, the mystery of his inspiration and success only grows more curious.
Who is this man? Is he crazy? What drives him? Russell summed it up in two hesitant words — Jesus Christ.
“For me, that’s the motivator,” Russell told me in an interview early one morning from California in March, as the video was first going viral.
He’d just had what was among the first of many nearly sleepless nights, he told me at the time, which his family later said contributed to his nude psychotic breakdown on a San Diego street corner.
“I can’t do it without that faith,” he said, calling Jesus the “ultimate storyteller.” Excitement rushed through his voice. “If I thought I was doing it myself, it would feel myopic.”
Behind the origins and success of Kony 2012 is an eclectic and powerful network of Christian activists, traditionally dominated by the Christian right, that has at times brought mass attention, almost single-handedly, to some of Africa’s worst and most ignored conflicts, from South Sudan to the Nuba Mountains, Darfur to the Lord’s Resistance Army.
The movement has also sparked controversy. It is a community of activists that wields disproportionate influence over African affairs, from military politics to public health to social policy. As they work to organize a global effort to catch the leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a distinct but not-so-distant wing of the same movement helped to implement Uganda’s notorious anti-gay law, which legalizes the killing of “repeat” gay men.
Still, for all the financial links connecting Invisible Children to the socially conservative American activists in Africa, the two could not be more different.
Read more. [Image: Invisible Children/YouTube]