Death, tears, unimaginable horrors: these are a part of everyday life for some people in Uganda. Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), has abducted at least 20,000 children to fight or become sex slaves. The children often walk miles from their homes in the countryside to cities where they are forced to sleep piled together like cattle in one-room buildings. Kids and adults alike live in fear in the continued depths in Africa at the horror of Joseph Kony.
Kony was born in Uganda in 1964 and formed the LRA in 1987 because he wanted the nation to be a Christian nation. Once he has kidnapped children, he often forces them to kill their parents and other family members to prove their loyalty. This also leaves the children without a home, forcing them to stay with the LRA or starve. Kony and the other commanders use their child soldiers as pack mules to carry equipment until they are too fatigued to even stand. Then the generals either kill the kids or leave them for dead. Sometimes the army uses the stolen boys for decoys or targets on the front lines as they fight the Ugandan army. Sometimes the commanders will cut the noses, lips, or ears off the bothersome kids and force them to eat their own flesh. Joseph Kony and his commanders have expressed interest in peace, but each time the negotiations have deflated.
The African nation may have taken care of this continued form of tragic horror in Joseph Kony already, either through imprisoning or killing him, but his demise is not a certainty. He has been the number one man wanted for too many crimes to list, and more than just the country of Uganda would be glad to see him in the grave or behind bars. Even though his biological clock is slowing and he should, by rights, be dead from all the wars and attempts to find and kill him, he is most likely alive and wreaking havoc on the world. Even though people have not seen him, they cannot be sure of his long-desired end because there is no information from Uganda that he is dead. While his absence has encouraged some, people are wary of concluding that their largest villain no longer lives to haunt the country’s citizens. The LRA also still operates in Uganda, and the government in this African country says they will catch him alive or dead. A report from November 2013 indicated thatKony was living contentedly in South Sudan, Africa.
An American organization, the Invisible Children, has played a continued crucial role in raising the awareness of this horror in Africa known as Joseph Kony. In 2012 they created a campaign, Kony 2012, to spark American’s interest and make this fight overseas a U.S. issue. A video they produced became the fastest growing viral video of all time and 3.7 million people promised to support actions to find and arrest or kill Kony.
In the spring of 2012 thousands of concerned people marched around Washington D.C. for the cause of world justice and peace. Because of this increased awareness, U.S. leaders decided to convene and discuss solutions. Since the rally in D.C. two LRA commanders have been removed from the battlefield, 690,000 detection fliers have been printed and spread around in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Invisible Children has constructed three radio towers to broadcast ‘come home’ messages over thousands of miles of LRA territory. Without knowing if Joseph Kony is still out there in Africa, however, the continued horror of his actions hang like a specter, and efforts are being made to give his victims a voice and help hunt him down.
By Rachel Fike