After the KONY 2012 video went viral yesterday (see it here), I searched for a little more about the world’s Number 1 wanted war criminal, Joseph Kony. Below are excerpts from two lengthy articles both of which are linked.
Who is Joseph Kony?
Joseph Kony, the cause of countless of tears of grief and sorrow in Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
Joseph Kony whose actions of terror held large portion of Uganda hostage for over 20 years. Joseph Kony whose actions of terror caused 2 million to flee their villages and homesteads in the Acholi and Lango areas of Uganda and settle in squalid Internally Displaced People Camps. Joseph Kony who enslaved 35,000 or more children, kidnapping whole boarding schools under the cover of the night. Joseph Kony who slashed and burned villages, settlements and even refugee camps, killing, raping, kidnapping and keeping a people under the yoke impending terror. Joseph Kony whose LRA dismembered, cut off lips, ears, fingers, hands, feet off of the innocent to keep them in fear. Joseph Kony who impoverished a whole region of Uganda through oppression and intimidation, through sheer terror. Joseph Kony, who took young women, called them his wives, beat them into submission, raped and impregnated them, scarring them emotionally for life.
[…]Joseph Kony came into this world in April of 1963 (some sources claim 1961, or 1962, 1963 would be one year after Uganda’s Independence from Britain) in a house just outside of what is referred to as the Trading Center of Odek, 1½-hours drive from the town of Gulu.
Joseph Kony was born into an Acholi family in the midst of the Acholi People’s area of Uganda. He was the last of six children, his father was Luigi Abol ( also called Cilio Obol), a teacher and very active in the Catholic Church. (The name Luigi would attributable to the fact that many of the Catholic missionaries were of Italian Origin). His mother, who died on November 10th, was Nora Anek Oting 86 years old. Her dying wish was that her son Joseph Kony make peace with the government of Uganda and the people of Central and East Africa.
His family was not wealthy since teachers did not receive much of a salary, most likely the food on the table came from the family garden that his mother Nora Anek Oting tended with the help of the children.
Joseph Kony was not the brightest student, but he had a sense of humor, he was pleasant, polite, loved soccer (football) and he was one of the best Larakaraka dancers (traditional Acholi Dance) and he loved when others cheered him on.
Since his father was a lay preacher in the Catholic Church it be only natural that Joseph Kony wind up as one of the altar boys in the church where his father also served.
Joseph Kony attended Odek Primary School, if you went looking for it, you would only find some ruins today. His education ended before he graduated and it is said that he joined his older brother Ginoni Okello who operated a traditional shrine outside of Odek and had become a witch doctor. There he assisted his brother with the shrine and it is very likely that a lot of the mystical and occultist ways were formed in those days within Joseph Kony.
In the early and mid 80’s the now President Museveni was in the bush outside of Kampala and the soldiers fighting him were mostly Acholi or Langi. In 1985, there was even a short-lived rule of an Acholi, President Okello.
The Acholi people felt that they were in power with one of their own as President. Museveni and his National Resistance Army were perceived as wanting to take that power from the Acholi People.
In January of 1986, Yuweri Museveni’s army marched victoriously into Kampala while the army of Okello fled to the north and into South Sudan. The end had come, so it was thought, then there was fear of retribution since Acholis had fought against the army whose government was now in power.
The scattered Acholi troops regrouped and formed the Uganda People’s Army. Joseph Kony gave them his spiritual input that he had gained as altar boy and witch doctor apprentice and he recruited others to the cause.
It was1986 in Uganda, Museveni was in power, the Acholis seemingly defeated. Enter “Alice Lakwena- the cousin of Joseph Kony.” An Acholi “Joan of Arc” (perceived as that by her people) who briefly came upon the scene to inspire thousands of Acholi Men into battle with sticks and stones with the promise that the bullets of the enemy would not penetrate their bodies which had been anointed with water and oil. That the stones of the Acholi would turn into grenades as they were thrown, that the enemy, Museveni’s Army be routed and the land cleansed and the Acholis returned to power.
Her initial successes were most amazing, but as she and her troops attempted to cross the Nile near Jinja, Alice Auma Lakwena was routed by superior troops with superior weapons. Alice fled to Kenya where she remained in a refugee camp until the time of her death in 2007.
The National Resistance Army rejoiced at their victory, but it was short-lived when it was announced that another rebel army had declared war on Kampala, led by Alice Lakwena’s cousin, the former altar boy Joseph Kony.
The land of the Acholi was going through a hard time. The heavy hand of the government’s National Resistance Army was being felt everywhere. Precious cattle were disappearing in the thousands. A man’s worth was as to how many heads of cattle he owned, some Acholi lost hundreds of cattle in one night, people disappeared, and women were raped. Accusation against the government troops abounded, something that is still discussed and disputed today.
Most of the government troops had fought the Acholi soldiers who had been the soldiers of the former government and they had been accused of hundreds of atrocities in the Luwero area near Kampala of stealing, murdering and raping civilians, so now some Ugandan government soldiers felt it was payback time.
Joseph Kony with his band of former soldiers (he was not into abducting children in those days) led some successful raids on government troops, the Acholi people once again thought that someone had come to restore their dignity, status, cattle, land and of course power. In those days, Kony’s plan was to overthrow the government rule Uganda according to the 10 commandments of the Old Testament.
Little did people in and near Gulu know that twenty some years of death, destruction, and abductions would await them.
The response to Kony’s victories was two fold, Betty Acan Bigombe, an Acholi was appointed Minister of State for Pacification of Northern Uganda, a title soon to be changed to something gentler such as Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Resident in Northern Uganda. The second part was a military operation that was simply an iron fist birthed in frustration because of losses that Kony and his troops had inflicted upon the government army.
The military operation literally blocked out the northern Acholi region. Politicians were arrested in fear that they were collaborating with Kony, a media-blackout took place. There were also the alleged crimes against the civilian population that abounded in all corners of Acholi land. Betty Bigombe and her staff started handing out bows and arrows to the Acholis to defend themselves against Joseph Kony in the small villages of northern Uganda. This infuriated Kony.
The result was that Kony’s wrath turned against his own people. He felt betrayed. His own people were now caught between the government army and their methods, and Kony and his retribution against the Acholis who he felt had deserted him. Kony also continued to attack the Army.
Kony issued a threat to the Acholi elders that they had cast him aside. Resulting in 250 innocent people being massacred.
In 1992, the abductions began with secondary schools for girls. A group of 44 girls was abducted from Sacred Heart Secondary School and St. Mary’s Girls School near Gulu. Both were boarding schools, the kidnappings began. Joseph Kony was going to produce a new kind of Acholi people. He would use young children that were a blank slate on which he could draw his ideas. Shaping a new Acholi people, loyal to him, a pure people. (shades of Adolf Hitler)
The Khartoum government began to use Joseph Kony and the LRA as a proxy to do harm to Museveni and his government and also to become an irritant to John Garang’s SPLA in South Sudan.
The Khartoum support became evident in the smart uniforms the leaders in the SPLA wore and the type of weapons they used and are using. This support is seen as ongoing even in 2009, though denied by the government of President Bashir in Khartoum. (It is ironic that both Bashir and Kony have been indicted by the International Criminal Court)
The association with Khartoum also changed some of the up to now so called Christian ways, “Allah Akbar” could now be heard as LRA fighters raided villages, Friday became a Holy Day. Pork was no longer served, and it is said that Kony received the name “Mohammed.” A blending of animist, Christian beliefs along with some Islamic practices was now a part of the LRA. (Joseph Kony is not a Christian nor is he a Muslim – He is a person mis-guided by his demonic visions and his selfish desires for power, his theology consists of violence for violence sake.)
The answer to the need for troops began to rear its ugly head in full in 1994 when child abductions began in mass. Children were being taken from boarding schools at night, and boys brainwashed and forced to be killers-child soldiers of Uganda, while girls were forced to become sex slaves even though they were referred to as wives. (Not surprisingly, many of these women upon release will say that their abuser such as Kony was a kind man and always apologized after beating them – the mind in captivity does strange things to many.)
Boys had to kill other boys, at times their own family in order not to be killed and prove their new loyalty. Violence for violence sake became the rule of the day. Children were scarred for life, their childhood snatched from them, turned into ruthless killers, mindless robots doing the bidding of a crazed man. Joseph Kony claims he never killed himself, he only heard the spirits and gave the orders, which were then put into marching orders.
Thousands were killed, maimed, kidnapped and displaced from their homes. The dark of night had come to the north of Uganda.
The government-erected camps (Internally Displaced Persons Camps) were thousands were moved to. This was often done with a very short notice of just a few days. The Acholi people and then the Langi were weeping as their children were taken from them, as their men were killed, the women were raped, and they moved into camps.
The camps were erected for the safety of the people but also in order to empty villages so that Kony had no support, no places to hide and less places to kidnap new recruits for his army.
This went on for years; no end seemed in sight. Acholi elders and religious leaders made appeals, lip service was given, overtures of kind gestures made by the government at times like sending Kony’s mother to Sudan to meet him (which did not take place.) Kony would say one thing, but do another.
All the while the cries in the night ,of mothers losing their children, of fathers their son, the weeping continued for years. Families lived in camps where before they had lived in villages with much cattle and gardens where to raise their food. The Acholis always pushed their children to be educated, now they were suffering with no education. Children grew up thinking that the source of food were NGO trucks rather than the rich soil their parents used to till.
Almost 2 million people were in the IDP camps, a whole generation of children grew up without their usual cultural ways. Sadly, the camps did not guarantee protection from the LRA, there were times were a whole camp would be raided and burned, many dying as in a camp outside of Lira in the land of the Langi people.
Kampala was safe (for the most part, there were threats and actual attacks by rebels from Western Uganda) and thriving, while the northern region of Uganda was dying.
People accused the army, Kony and the LRA. Everyone was pointing the finger but nothing was taking place to bring an end to the dilemma. Kony seemed to escape every trap, every encounter with the government army. The man with nine lives. Some began to think, that just maybe he had mystical powers from his spirits. That he was truly a man who was in touch with another realm.
The atmosphere in northern Uganda was tense. In some towns such as Gulu, children would come to the town at night to seek shelter in fear of possible raids by the LRA and potential abductions. They became the night commuters’ children growing up in fear for their lives, not knowing if their parents would be alive when they returned home the next morning.
The north had become the killing fields of Uganda. The world stood by quietly for the most part while people died, were abducted, enslaved, brainwashed, starved. Shades of Rwanda, now in the north of Uganda where a people were losing their identity and human dignity.
BBC called the situation in northern Uganda “Worse than Iraq.” A United Nations report referred to Northern Uganda as “the most dangerous place to live in the world.”
In the meantime, a maniac, Joseph Kony, listening to his unholy spirits kept up his evil ways. During thewar, he is said to have had 50 girls or young women as concubines (he calls them wives), fathered a hundred children, displacing 2 million people, killing over 30,000 kidnapping up to 30,000 or more (some reports say 66,000 abducted children). Burning and slashing the land of his own people. Unlike his relative Alice Auma Lakwena, no one can call him an Acholi Patriot. Alice Lakwena asked him to stop repeatedly, to no avail. Kony continued his campaign of death and violence.
Joseph Kony is simply a sick man, misguided and misled by the demonic entities that visit him. He has poisoned a nation, violated his own people and spread it to other nearby countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
The war kept on and on…in 2005, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Joseph Kony and some of his leaders for Crimes against Humanity. There are mixed feelings in Uganda regarding the warrants. It is felt the reason that a final Peace Treaty has never been signed is because of the warrants by the ICC. Many Africans are quite critical of the ICC and its seeming selective ways of ignoring westerners but singling out Africans.
The reality is, that this man, Kony, who claims to be divinely inspired, this man who twists the minds of young men and women, who scars hearts and minds of people, who rapes children’s sense of right and wrong and steals their soul. This man Kony is in his heart fearful of being arrested and held accountable. He stays in the bush, he keeps up his ways, creating continual misery in Central Africa so that he can avoid accountability and imprisonment. (Presently in the Democratic Republic of Congo)
The war has become chic, westerners buzz about it on the internet, daily I get requests as to how many child soldiers there are? How many people has Kony abducted recently? A game of abduction has even been created by a UK charity so that they you can experience in cyberspace of what it is like to be abducted and then find your mother. (Acholi people and others in Uganda have a real problem with some such things)
The reality is this, it is not a game, it is real life and it is a war. Mothers and fathers all over the north of Uganda, now in the Congo are still weeping, not knowing if their son and daughter are dead or alive. The actual LRA size is estimated to be around 1000 to 1200 with mothers and children, about 600 actual combatants. (These are figures from news reports in local Ugandan newspapers, there are however reports that the LRA may be larger)
Where then are all the children? Kony has said, he does not have the children…so where are they?
Many have died against the Ugandan army, against the SPLA and the Congolese Army. Some say Kony sold them, that they are in Darfur, others say they were sold as slaves, or for other purposes.
Thousands are missing, boys and girls who missed out on being children becoming child soldiers instead, never to be the same again. When they return home they often do so to villages where they themselves killed someone. There mistrust exists, integration is simply tough. Former concubines have a hard time finding a husband, former child soldiers a hard time finding a woman. (24,000 have been granted amnesty by the Uganda Amnesty Commission report of December 2008. of those 17,000 were combatants. There were about 35,000 abducted from Uganda, especially the Acholi region, the Langi and Teso region.)
(Read the entire entry here.)
This is from a New York Times piece, October 14, 2011:
Joseph Kony is one of the most vilified rebel leaders on the planet. He stands accused of brainwashing countless children across northern Uganda, turning the girls into sex slaves and the boys into prepubescent killers.
His so-called Christian movement, the Lord’s Resistance Army, has terrorized villagers in at least four countries in central Africa for nearly 20 years, killing tens of thousands of people, burning down huts and hacking off lips. The fact that Mr. Kony, whose followers believe he is a prophet, rarely appears in public has only added to his brutal mystique.
American efforts to combat the group also took place during the Bush administration, which authorized the Pentagon to send a team of 17 counterterrorism advisers to train Ugandan troops and provided millions of dollars worth of aid, including fuel trucks, satellite phones and night vision goggles, to the Ugandan army. Those efforts scattered segments of the LRA; its remnants dispersed and regrouped in Uganda’s neighbors.
In the spring of 2010, apparently desperate for new conscripts, Mr. Kony’s forces killed hundreds of villagers in the Congolese jungle and kidnapped hundreds more, according to witnesses interviewed at the time.
In 2010, C.J. Chivers of The New York Times wrote about a document that gave an insider’s view into what he called Mr. Kony’s “exaggerated style of public weirdness and calculated ferocity.”
(You can read the entire article here.)