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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora