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What ever happened to Joseph Kony? The infamous Ugandan warlord

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Image of Joseph Kony.

Joseph Kony is the son of a farmer who went on to become a religious warlord. Prior to this, he was a simple altar boy. Chances are, you have heard of him. The infamous Ugandan warlord, who led the Lords Resistance Army, or the LRA for short. During 2012, Kony was arguably the most hated man in the world. He was alleged to be responsible for the deaths of over 10,000 people and the enslavement of over 60,000 children.

The media focused heavily on putting a stop to Joseph Kony, however, the reports soon halted and the man seemingly disappeared from the face of the Earth. Which leads us to the question – What happened to Joseph Kony? And why did we all forget about him?

The Stop Kony 2012 Campaign

A video campaign was set up by Invisible Children back in 2012 entitled Stop Kony. Invisible Children were a nonprofit that was founded in 2004. They were on a mission to stop the LRA and Kony.

Invisible Children’s video campaign soon went viral and it went on to receive over 100 million plays. The message was clear – put a stop to Joseph Kony. Many people initially took this message seriously and the hashtag #stopkony dominated Twitter. This was until the trolls come out to play. The campaign was soon warped into a meme and the words “Kony 2012” were nothing more than a joke. Kony 2012 and Stop Kony was plastered everywhere for a short while. People even had the hashtag #stopkony tattooed and it was not uncommon to see it graffitied on walls in your local city.

The slogan began to lose all meaning and went on to lose popularity. The people were all Kony’d out and the mainstream media stopped reporting it. Joseph Kony became nothing more than a fad, however, he was still in existence.

You can watch the Kony 2012 video in full below –

Why was Joseph Kony so hated?

Well, for a start, his resistance group was said to have abducted over 60,000 children whilst slaughtering thousands of people. This did not put him in the good books of the International Criminal Court. Joseph Kony has been wanted, since 2005, by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Joseph Kony personally abducted children and used fear as a tool to brainwash them. There are reports that he made children murder their own parents to make them prove their loyalty to him. Many of the abducted children were forced to fight or be human shields on the frontline.

He also kept child sex slaves and had multiple wives. Virgins were often offered to Kony by his LRA fighters. Rape was a daily occurrence for some children and many had to change their identity to protect themselves. One girl claimed that she had been raped so badly by the LRA that she could not walk like a normal person.

Kony was not much liked, and the media attention had got him on the run.

What about the Lord’s Resistance Army?

The LRA, also known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, is more of a personality cult of Joseph Kony than a movement. The Ugandan army said that the LRA threatened their country and called on a search for Kony. The USA listed the LRA as a terrorist group due to their widespread human rights violations. The group itself does not appear to be motivated by a political agenda. The LRA is a religious Christian group and is said to be one of the least understood rebel movements in the world.

There are conflicts of vision within the army itself. It is said that the purpose of the LRA was to enforce the Ten Commandments of God. When LRA commander Vincent Otti was asked about this, he replied

“Lord’s Resistance Army is just the name of the movement because we are fighting in the name of God. God is the one helping us in the bush. That’s why we created this name, Lord’s Resistance Army. And people always ask us, are we fighting for the Ten Commandments of God. That is true – because the Ten Commandments of God is the constitution that God has given to the people of the world. All people. If you go to the constitution, nobody will accept people who steal, nobody could accept to go and take somebody’s wife, nobody could accept to kill the innocent, or whatever. The Ten Commandments carries all this”

God is the one helping us in the bush. That’s why we created this name, Lord’s Resistance Army.

At the height of the LRA, it is said that they had as many as 3000 fighters. In total, over 10,000 children have been reported to have fought for the LRA since the 90s.

In 2012, the army had dwindled to around 200 fighters, however, they still remained a threat.

Lords Resistance Army

Where is Joseph Kony now?

The international spotlight meant that members of the LRA and Joseph Kony were forced into hiding. Kony and his fighters would roam the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo and sleep in bushes. The USA launched a manhunt for Joseph Kony in 2012. This was initially authorised by Barack Obama but was eventually called off in 2017.

In late 2017, the LRA was said to have less than 100 fighters and therefore no longer posed a threat to Uganda. The Ugandan army withdrew troops from their search stating that the LRA was now weak and ineffective.

The question of ‘Where is Joseph Kony?’ is still unknown. There are many reasons why Kony has survived. It is believed that Kony and the LRA are in the jungles surrounding Obo (Central African Republic). What we do know for certain is that his influence is now smaller than ever. As a result, the search for Joseph Kony is no longer seen as a priority.

Throughout history, Kony has had the ability to bounce back and grow in power. A security vacuum has been created in towns, such as Obo, following the absence of the US and Ugandan armies. The real concern is that Joseph Kony will see an opportunity in towns with little or no defence. Civilians in Obo and the surrounding area live in fear and uncertainty.

The USA and Uganda stated that Kony was no longer a threat. For those who have fallen victim to Kony, this is far from the truth. For as long as he is free, he will bring destruction. Kony may be weaker but he is certainly not defeated. This is something we must not forget.

As of November 2019, Joseph Kony the whereabouts of Joseph Kony is unknown.

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