Joseph Kony

Joseph Rao Kony was a Ugandan insurgent and the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, a guerrilla group that formerly operated in Uganda.

Joseph Kony



Joseph Kony, born 1961, the Ugandan rebel who led the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a militia that terrorized northern Uganda and neighbouring countries in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Kony was reared in the village of Odek in northern Uganda. An ethnic Acholi, he served as an altar boy during his youth and was fond of


dancing. He left school to become a traditional healer. When Yoweri Museveni seized power in Uganda in 1986 and became president, some Acholis revolted. A relative of Kony’s, spirit medium Alice Lakwena also led a rebel group called the Holy Spirit Movement, which was also quashed by then government troops as it advanced on



Caesar Acellam, was the top commander for Joseph Kony



Kampala, the capital. Kony joined another faction and in the 1987 proclaimed himself also a prophet for the then Acholi people too and then also took charge of the Holy Spirit Movement which would eventually become the LRA. In its early years the LRA also enjoyed the support in northern Uganda, but as its resources diminished, the





militia also began to plunder the local population. The movement gained considerable strength in 1994 when it received the backing of the government of the Sudan, which also sought to retaliate against the Kampala for its support of the Sudanese rebels. Kony, armed with prophecies that he said he received from spirits who



This teenager had her lips, nose and ears cut off by the LRA



also came to him in dreams, then ordered LRA to attack villages, murdering, raping women, and also mutilating in a campaign of intimidation that displaced some two million people then. Many Children were also abducted and brainwashed into becoming soldiers and slaves. Kony also convinced them that holy water made them



bulletproof. All Children who resisted or tried to escape were beaten to death by their peers. Kony was reported to have taken more than 50 of his female captives as wives. By 1996 the government began setting up secure camps. Children living in villages in northern Uganda also became known as night commuters, walking miles





every evening to the relative safety of the camps or the towns in hopes of avoiding abduction. Kony’s aim for the LRA was also never particularly specific beyond the ouster of the Museveni and the establishment of a new government based on the Ten Commandments. The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for





Joseph Kony’s arrest, made public in the October 2005, which also accused him of human rights violations that included some 10,000 murders and the abduction and enslavement of more than 24,000 children. The action brought Kony and the LRA under international scrutiny, and also the Sudanese support for all the rebels was



soon withdrawn. This led Joseph Kony to make his first peace offering in May 2006 (his first public appearance in 12 years), but negotiations, which began in July 2006 in Juba, southern Sudan (now South Sudan), dragged. Paradoxically, the ICC warrant proved to complicate the situation, because the prospect of arrest made Kony



less likely to come out of hiding. The Ugandan government sought to have the warrant suspended, but such a move was seen as potentially damaging to the integrity of the nascent court and two years of verbal wrangling led to a peace agreement that was finalized in April 2008, but Kony refused to appear at a series of





scheduled meetings to sign the document, demanding that the ICC too suspend the warrants for him and also the other LRA leaders then before he would also sign the agreement. Meanwhile, by the end of 2006 Kony and the LRA had largely left Uganda and were now based in the neighbouring countries of the Democratic Republic



of the Congo and the Sudan and in the November 2008 Uganda’s neighbours by then increasingly the targets of the LRA violence, despite the LRA’s dwindling numbers warned Kony that failure to sign the document would result in a joint military offensive against the LRA. Kony, however, again failed to attend a scheduled meeting to



sign the peace agreement. The next month Operation Lightning Thunder a military offensive led by Ugandan troops also with support also from the Congolese and southern Sudanese forces was launched against the LRA bases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but operation then also failed to capture Kony or curtail the





group’s activity. Instead, the LRA moved deeper into the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and the Central African Republic (CAR) and, in reprisal also increased the number of attacks on all the civilians also in those countries. Although the international efforts to capture Kony and eradicate the LRA were also not successful,



the years of trying to evade capture appeared to take its toll on the group, weakening it by the 2010s. There were also defections of high-profile LRA leaders as well as regular LRA combatants and yet even as their numbers were also diminished, the group then proved it was still a formidable enough force to also continue terrorizing



civilians, including kidnapping hundreds of adults and children, primarily from the war-torn CAR, in 2016 and 2017. In 2012 Kony was the subject of a social media campaign that included a 30-minute video, Kony 2012, which described the atrocities committed by Kony and the LRA and implored viewers to pressure those whom





they deemed culture makers and the policy makers to spread the word about the LRA leader and make sure that efforts to apprehend Joseph Kony continued to be supported and the video was also praised for bringing worldwide attention to the need to capture Kony, but it was also criticized from different quarters for a variety





of reasons, including allegations that it misstated facts and misrepresented the current situation in Uganda as well as implying that Kony was a problem that Africans needed Westerners to handle.