If you have an interest in African history you’ll probably have heard of Joseph Kony and his Lords Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group in Uganda – but for those who haven’t, he is one of the most pitiless warlords ever known, even for a continent that has produced some of the most … notable … of such men ever born, and he and his LRA have terrorised that area of Africa for around two decades. Here’s a baker’s dozen of facts, both startling and otherwise, about this “spokesperson of God” and “spirit medium”.
Here are 13 Facts About Joseph Kony and Lords Resistance Army
1 – Born the son of Acholi farmers in Gulu, northern Uganda, in 1961, Kony was always vengeful and quick to violence, even as a child. Although he spent several years as an altar boy in his father’s Catholic church, he stopped attending church – and dropped out of school – aged around 15.
2 – According to a former classmate of his, when he attended primary school, Kony – one of the most feared and hated rebel leaders in the world – was a brilliant dancer who loved football.
3 – Joseph Kony apparently got the idea for his LRA from watching/taking part in the activities of former prostitute Alice Lakwena’s Holy Spirit Movement and Yoweri Museveni’s Uganda People’s Defence Force, then known as the National Resistance Army (even pinching most of the name …).
4 – These activities included mass looting, burning houses, rape, genocide and murder, all of which apparently matched in nicely with Kony’s preferences since his own LRA later carried out many of the same activities. During this time over two million people found themselves living in concentration camps after the Museveni government’s helicopter gunships burned their homes (and killed many of them in the process).
5 – After Museveni’s troops defeated Lakwena in 1988, Kony founded his LRA and first came to the world’s notice in the 1990s as he abducted children in the thousands, to become either fighters or sex slaves. He and his senior men took their choice of the captured girls, fuelling speculation that he himself now has around 60 wives.
6 – He believes himself to be a “spirit medium”, claiming a host of 15 or so spirits tell him what’s going to happen, and when ‘the enemy’ is making plans to attack. He insists his men follow his rules and rituals strictly, such as stating they must make the sign of the cross before going into a fight in order that they won’t be killed, and draw crosses in oil on their bodies and on their guns. He tells them the oil is the Holy Spirit’s power.
7 – Kony doesn’t hesitate to kill his own Acholi people, apparently believing that “cleansing” them is the role God has assigned him, and using biblical quotes to explain the necessity – to him, they have failed in support of his cause. He is quoted as saying if they didn’t support him, they “must be finished”.
8 – Apart from abducting children for his army and harem and killing anyone who doesn’t support him, Kony’s LRA has committed many vicious acts on those it captures. Lips, ears, noses and fingers are cut off, bodies cut and mutilated, girls raped and people murdered at any time, without warning.
9 – When challenged on these atrocities in an interview he gave in 2008, he claimed that he’s not the monster that he’s made out to be, and that it was actually Museveni’s men that cut off ears and put out eyes of the Acholi people whilst *claiming* they were LRA fighters. He said that he couldn’t do that to “his brother” – although apparently it’s okay to kill said brother if he won’t join Kony’s LRA …
10 – That interview was soon after the start of some very delicate peace negotiations brokered by South Sudan authorities, but the LRA was divided over whether to accept them. Then the talks broke down entirely when Kony’s second in command, Vincent Otti, suddenly died mysteriously. Otti was very much ‘pro’ peace and pushed to get the talks going, and it is thought that having decided not to sign, Kony simply ordered him killed.
11 – Almost in response to this, it seems, the LRA set out on the offensive again. During the so-called Christmas Day Massacre of 2008 and the subsequent weeks, they beat more than 800 people to death and abducted as many more from the north-eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.
12 – After this, Museveni’s army, with help from the West, stepped up its campaign against the LRA and over the past few years has significantly reduced it in both size and ability to function. They have not, however, destroyed it entirely or captured Kony, and it continues to rumble on, killing and abducting as before although on a much smaller scale.
13 – Due to his excessive violence and crimes against humanity, Joseph Kony now has an Interpol ‘Red Notice’ out on him – the closest thing there is to an international arrest warrant. The Western World really wants him stopped, just as do the people of the DRC, the CAR, Uganda and surrounding areas.
Let’s hope it won’t be too long before they succeed.