News

    In Uganda's North, Support for Kony's 'Invisible Children'

    International Criminal Court indictment list displays Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, from "Kony 2012 Part II" (file photo).
    International Criminal Court indictment list displays Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, from "Kony 2012 Part II" (file photo).

    Tonight thousands of teenagers hit streets of the United States armed with T-shirts and posters as part of a campaign to make Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony even more famous than he already is.

    Orphanage outside Gulu, northern Uganda, home to children whose parents were killed by Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, April 20, 2012.
    Orphanage outside Gulu, northern Uganda, home to children whose parents were killed by Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, April 20, 2012.
    Sponsored by Invisible Children -- the U.S.-based advocacy group whose spectacularly successful Kony 2012 documentary reached over 100 million people -- "Cover the Night" aims to aid in the capture of the notorious leader of the Lord's Resistance Army.

    In parts of Uganda, the U.S.-based group and its documentary have been accused of arrogance, over-simplification and misrepresentation of the country in order to make money.

    In the northern region, a place ravaged by decades of LRA violence, reactions are more mixed.

    Kony 2012 Teaser from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

    A place for survivors
    Twenty kilometers outside Gulu sits a modest orphanage. Comprising just three concrete blocks in a tall grass, the structures are home to more than 30 children whose families were killed by LRA forces.

    For many of them, capturing Kony is the only thing that matters.

    "We found out that there are very many children that were staying on their own, like child-headed families," says orphanage manager Nelda Apiyo, explaining that many had had to survive on their own for years. "And then also we found out that there are very many street kids who are just hanging around town and they don’t know where to stay."

    For youth such as fifteen-year-old Nancy Apio, memories of the war between the Ugandan government and the LRA are still fresh.

    "My dad was in the garden and then the rebels, they came and they killed him," she says. "They just cut him in two pieces. There was an uncle to me, he went to the garden. He was making charcoal. When they found him there, they killed him and they threw him in the fire."

    A local screening
    Most of these children have not seen Kony 2012, but several weeks ago a public screening was held in Gulu, and over 10,000 people showed up. It did not go well.

    "When they went for the screening, they expected to watch a film where they were going to see Joseph Kony capturing young children, killing them one by one, and doing all the destruction that had been happening before," says Roy Arnold, a young man working in a Gulu café. "But then unfortunately, they brought a documentary where a white guy was speaking throughout the movie, and some young kid was playing."

    According to 19-year-old Okane Francis Otim, an orphanage resident who was in the audience that night, things quickly got out of hand, and riot police were called in to control the crowd.

    “They just started shouting, they destroyed many things," he says.

    While Otim personally thinks Invisible Children’s campaign is a good thing, unlike many other Ugandans he says he would even be willing to wear a T-shirt with Kony’s face on it, if it would help the cause.

    “That one I can do," he says, echoing a sentiment shared by most of the orphans. "It will be showing the sign that there is something that people should do, and that T-shirt will be showing it."

    An unending war
    For the orphans and their facility manager, the war is not yet over. Some are missing family members who were abducted and could be fighting with the LRA across the border in Congo.

    "We have a girl whose father was taken, and up to now she still doesn’t know whether he is alive or not," says Apiyo. "But she is still having hope that one day their father will come back. So I believe if they come and then they chase away Kony, the relatives of people here will come back."

    Fourteen-year-old Concy Attoo was born in a rebel camp in the bush, and has no memory of her parents, both of whom are dead.

    "[My] life has been very hard, but at least things are improving," she says. "They no longer have to hide in the forest, and now they have enough to eat every day."

    Once ravaged by war, Gulu in northern Uganda is now a bustling commercial town, April 20, 2012.
    Once ravaged by war, Gulu in northern Uganda is now a bustling commercial town, April 20, 2012.
    Gulu, now a bustling commercial center, was once a destination for children from surrounding villages who made nightly treks into the war-torn city to escape LRA attacks.

    There is no question that things are looking up in the region. Although the LRA may have fled Uganda, says Apiyo, the campaign to capture Kony remains paramount.

    "It’s not peaceful," she says. "What Kony has done ... led to poverty. People are still suffering, because some other people, they can’t produce. If you produce, and your leg is not there, how can you manage to get food for your children?”

    One hundred U.S. troops were sent to central Africa last year to advise the Ugandan military in their continuing hunt for Kony, whose weakened rebel group is now scattered throughout the region.

    Regardless of what they think of Kony 2012, many in Gulu hope the hunt for Kony succeeds.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora