The faint noises of vehicles approaching. The screeching of tires as trucks grind to a halt. The rustling of footsteps and the clanking of equipment are heard. Families huddle inside their dwellings in fear. The blackness of night penetrated by the beams of lanterns and flashlights. A door crashes to the floor in splinters, there are screams and the sounds of gunfire erupt in the still of night. The pleas of the mothers, fathers, and children fall upon deaf ears as the invaders methodically ransack home after home. The engines start up, the trucks roll away then — silence. Save for the moans of the injured and dying and the wailing of those left to bury the dead.
The above paragraph is a depiction of yet another facet of the pain and suffering experienced by those who live in the third world. However this particular pain and suffering has a face and a name.That of African warlord Joseph Kony, whose name has recently become synonymous with Adolf Hitler and other genocidal madmen of the same ilk. Accused of the abductions of more than 30,000 children, Joseph Kony has earned special notoriety as the deranged Pied Piper of the 21st century. Many of the abducted children are purportedly recruited as child soldiers into the so-called Lord’s Resistance Army or LRA while young girls have reportedly been condemned to life as sex slaves. Mutilations and ritual killings have also been added to the already mind boggling list of atrocities allegedly committed by this man and the LRA as well, according to the organization Invisible Children and other sources. Most disturbing however, notwithstanding the heinousness of the acts he has been accused of, is that Kony allegedly conducted this reign of terror for more than two decades largely unchecked. How can someone who is not a dictatorial leader of a nation amass so much support and commit so many offenses yet remain under the radar to the rest of the world?
The answer is simple. He has not. This is not the first time Joseph Kony has been in the media nor is it the first time the issue of child soldiers and other atrocities in Africa have been mentioned either. It has however, been through the production of the documentary, “Kony 2012”, by the organization Invisible Children, that this issue has gained the most attention. And now in a twist, seemingly snatched from the pages of some convoluted mystery novel, the very organization credited with bringing more awareness to all this, have possibly done so for less than noble reasons. Invisible Children has now been accused of profiteering off the plight of the very people it claimed to be trying to save. If true, is there any end to the suffering, exploitation, and destruction visited upon these people?
Joseph Kony is considered a criminal by the world at large. This is borne out by the fact that he is currently wanted on charges of war crimes by the International Criminal Court which issued warrants for his arrest in 2005, along with the countless testimonies of his victims but what about the other side? There has also been accusations of the same type of conduct by the government of Uganda.
Joseph Kony and those like him are only a symptom of the underlying illness. Wherever poverty, disease, hunger, oppression, and tyranny exist, the conditions are perfect for the propagation of evil men like Kony to appear as saviors with all the answers and a better way of life. The truth is, often these men are but wolves in sheep’s clothing who seek to devour the meager resources of already overburdened people, only to amass wealth and power for themselves until they have gained such a following, they then can shed the disguise to reveal the true predators they really are. With the hapless citizenry left to choose between the lesser of the evils and as always using the innocents as pawns, while two opposing factions vie to replace the others’ importance with that of their own.
I have learned over the years that the boogeyman is real. Very real! He lives in our collective psyches and is personified in people like Joseph Kony and others of his kind who thrive and flourish off the fear and despair of others.
Eventually the reign of Joseph Kony will end. Whether by apprehension, a hail of gunfire, or natural causes, it will end indeed, but until we stop turning a blind eye to the plight of our fellow human beings, and call out the evil we see for what it is, we are destined to continue to fall victim to the Joseph Konys of the world, again and again.