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. 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 notorious of men such as Charles Taylor, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, and Idi Amin.
Kony 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”.
Joseph Kony Biography, Wiki
Although he would grow up to be known popularly as Joseph Kony, his complete name is Joseph Rao Kony and he was born on July 24, 1961. Both his parents, Luizi Obol and Nora Oting, were farmers. Apart from the fact that his parents were farmers, his larger family is known for farming in his village of Gulu in the Nothern Uganda.
Although he was made to always attend church and was even a Catholic altar boy, Kony was always vengeful and quick to violence, even as a child. He was one of the youngest in the family of six children.
For his education, the boy who would grow to be highly infamous began but didn’t finish his elementary school as he later got to drop out when he was only 15. After leaving school, the boy later joined his brother who was a witch doctor. He got to learn traditional healing from him and he became a traditional doctor.
It was with the emergence of the Holy Spirit Movement among the Ugandans which was in a revolt against Yoweri Museveni who had taken over power in the country, that Kony soon became popular. His faction of the movement was known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and it was this rebel group that he would go on to use to terrorize a lot of people in different places untamed for a very long time.
In years to come, Kony would go on to destroy villages, torture and kill men, rape and maim women, and force children into joining his army. According to him and the LRA, all they wanted was the ousting of Museveni and the formation of a new government that would follow the Ten Commandments.
With efforts to catch him and curtail his activities failing, Joseph Kony extended his activities beyond Uganda to other countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Central African Republic (CAR) where he keeps attacking civilians.
Although he is still wanted in the International Court of Justice for crime against humanity that saw him and his LRA killing more than 10 thousand people and forcing more than 24 thousand children to join the forces, he is still running free and wild.
Here are 13 Facts About Joseph Kony and Lords Resistance Army
1 – His father was a Catholic lay catechist and his mother was an Anglican member.
2 – According to a former classmate of his, when he attended primary school, Kony who would later become 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 and 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 captured. 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 crime 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.