Ending Religious Conflicts in Uganda, Africa

1 January 2017

In Uganda, Africa, 85% of the population is of the Christian religion, 12% is of the Muslim religion, and 3% is other, according to the U. S. Department of State (“Background Note: Uganda”). Africa is not a constructed country that bases them around only one religion. The citizens who reside in this country have the freedom to practice any religion they please. Yet, a major religious conflict fired up in Uganda, Africa during the late 1980’s when a group developed together to take on the Ugandan government. This group is called the Lord Resistance Army (LRA), and is still fighting against the government today.

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The LRA is led by a man, Joseph Kony, who just recently became famous around the world for his cruel acts upon the children of Uganda. The LRA has committed many crimes; such as, combat crimes, abduction of over 30,000 children and counting, rape, turning young girls into sex slaves, turning young boys into servants, and all types of murder. The purpose of this group is to transform the current Ugandan government from a Republic to a Theocracy because Joseph Kony and his group believe that the country should abide by the Ten Commandments (“Uganda: Key People and Parties”).

To end this fatal and brutal conflict, we as a country must come together and show our own government how much interest and support we have towards the victims of the LRA. By showing our support and interest, the government will then realize how horrible this is, and provide much more needed help than what we as people can give. Together, we can catch Joseph Kony and save many, many Ugandan lives. Although Joseph Kony is the current leader of the LRA, he was not the only creator of it.

A lady named Alice Auma, nicknamed “Lakwena,” meaning “the messenger,” believed that the Holy Spirit was sending her messages about conquering the Ugandan government. Gerard Prunier described her and her group in his book, “Africa’s World War,” as a “…millenarian cult led by a young prophetess” (81). Later in 1986, Joseph Kony announced his relation to Lakwena, claiming to be either her cousin or nephew. He then became the new leader of the group. As Kony released unknown information about the group to the public, such as what the group’s true intentions are, the LRA started to lose many, many supporters and followers.

Kony had explained to the public that he, along with a few others, wanted the government to rotate around the Ten Commandments and follow the Christian religion. The cruel and disturbing acts committed on the innocent children, parents, and citizens of Uganda had started once the size of the group began to decrease (“The Lord’s Resistance Army”). This group of Christian people walk around acting as if they were military soldiers. Snatching children from their own homes and turning them into combat soldiers, cooks, servants, or sex slaves, the LRA is a cruel group of people who only want what Joseph Kony wants; a theocracy.

After kidnapping thousands of young and older children, the members of the LRA marched back to their unclean, unsafe, and broken down camp site where they stored the victims. Many of the young girls were raped and used as sex slaves or cooks, while the strong boys were captured to carry heavy weapons and fight when necessary. To make sure that the captured victims would not think about going back to their homes, members of the LRA forced most of the children to kill their own family and friends. Any children that refused to follow the orders of the LRA or tried to escape from them were tortured and horribly killed (“Lord Resistance Army”).

Not only is this terrifying genocide affecting the victims and their families, but is causing the children who were not captured to suffer from low budgets, poor economy, terrifying thoughts and trauma, and unaffordable fees. School were knocked down and destroyed, which decreased the ability and opportunity to learn for many potential students. Without schools, an appropriate education, or good examples to look up to, the people of Uganda will not be able to maintain a successful or developing country (“Lord Resistance Army”).

For the fortunate children who had the lucky chance to escape the camp site without getting caught by the LRA were lucky enough to receive no torture and got to live. Yet, these children were not fortune enough to escape the experience they had while stationed with this horrible group of people. The experiences that these children had to, and still have to, go through will never leave their thoughts. These victims will never be able to forget what they had to survive, or not survive, through. The aftermath is not always happy and content, for many children dealt with psychological problems.

These children have watched their own family members, close friends, and community neighbors get shot down, tortured, raped, thrown around like a piece of meat, and so on. Kony’s act of killing the people of Uganda also falls under the subject of genocide. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the term genocide means the systematic extermination or destruction of a political, racial, or cultural group (“genocide”). Because Kony and his followers are trying to overthrow the Ugandan government, they are trying to eliminate and take over their power to turn Uganda into a theocracy country which will only practice Christianity.

His act is considered to be genocide because he is trying to completely get rid of what they have now, so that they can have what they want in the future. Genocide has also been a huge conflict residing all over the continent itself. Rwanda, a country in Africa, was ranked number seven on a list of countries and continents that were affected by genocide with a counting number of 1,000,000 people dead (Coloroso xii). On October 3rd, 1994, the UN Security Council testifies the killings and murders happening in Rwanda as genocide (Hatzfeld 240).

According to Louise Hawker in her book, “Genocide in Elie Wiesel’s Night,” he states that “Those who undergo such suddering ‘no longer dare look at themselves in the mirror, afraid they may see their inner image: a monster…” (101). The children who are forced to kill their own family and friends will be scared for life. The thought of killing somebody who was once so close to you will never leave the child’s head. This will cause major trauma and mental illnesses. Between the genocide happening and Kony taking over control, Uganda needs more help than ever before.

Some people might say that what is happening in Africa should be our least concern because it does not affect our country. They are right; it is not truly affecting our country. But, what does this show the rest of the world? That American’s only care about our country and refuses to provide at least a little extra help to those who are in need. Our country is better than that, and this is clearly shown but the number of people who signed up to help prevent Kony from continuing his master plan. For such a long-lasting conflict in Uganda, the LRA needs to be stopped before it is too late.

Although the LRA has not been a world-wide known conflict for the last 20 years, it has had its peaks, and is globally known about today. There are many organizations, including many non-profit organizations, who are trying to raise money, publish his story and pictures in newspapers, magazines, books, the internet, social networks, and even on posters around communities to help aware our country of what is going on outside our own country. These organizations’ main goal is to make Joseph Kony famous, and have the hopes of pushing our world leaders to act upon this conflict.

After our leaders decide to act, they will catch Kony and his many other followers to completely end this nightmare and finally hold peace. One main, and mostly known, organization who is working incredibly hard to pursue our goal in catching Kony is a campaign called “Invisible Children. ” “Invisible children uses film, creativity and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s rebel war and restore LRA-affected communities in East and Central Africa to peace and prosperity,” says the Invisible Children website (Russell).

This organization was co-founded by a man named Jason Russell. Not only does this organization includes professionals or high-powered people, but also gives the opportunity for people all around the world to pledge themselves and show their support. Invisible Children provides kits, t-shirts, posters, stickers, and much more on their website for those who are willing to spend time helping Russell and his fellow members create a difference. Any little effort provided by each person who pledged is greatly appreciated and has already made a huge impact on this event (Russell).

Although Kony recently became famous around the world within the last few months, Jason Russell has been working with Invisible Children for over 7 years. Jason Russell shared his inspiring story by posting a video he had created and directed himself on the internet. Russell had a firsthand experience with a boy who currently lives in Uganda and took part in Kony’s torture. This boy was Russell’s inspiration to finally take that extra step forward and do all he is able to do to help this poor country in Africa (Russell).

The first step to ending this uproar was to make Kony famous. Now that Kony is famous and many are informed of his cruel actions, Jason Russell suggested a Cover Night on April 20th, 2012. Cover Night was a global process in which everyone around the world was invited to post posters, pictures, drawings, stickers and much more about Joseph Kony all around every community to make Kony’s fame as popular as possible. Children, teenagers, adults and elders all participated in this event and made a huge impact on raising awareness of his war crimes. (Russell).

Another effective method that can be used to help prevent Kony from going about his act would be to raise enough funds to provide shelters, education, medical assistance, and welcome home surprises to the victims of the LRA (Russell). By reaching out to the most known people of the world, including those who are wealthy enough to donate some amounts of money, we will be able to provide all of the needs previously stated that the children will want and need. The funds will not only help the victims but also the community and combat fighters also.

The money will be used for education reasons, but also to purchase updated and better working technology to increase the chance of capturing Kony. Because Africa does not have the best economy during these times, the government and citizens are unable to do as much research and spying as possible (Russell). Previous attempts to stop the LRA have come so close, but have not fully come to affect. In October of 2011, President Barack Obama sent 100 American troops to Africa, hoping to catch and stop Joseph Kony and the LRA.

By sending over these troops, Obama wished to only capture Kony and not start an unneeded war. Not only did these troops search Uganda for Joseph Kony, but also deployed to South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Congo. Our troops were sent with great knowledge and teachings to help other unfortunate countries better their combat skills, if necessary. Rather than cause a bigger conflict, Barack Obama did the best he could to provide the country with protection, knowledge, and assistance (Press). Sending these troops over to Africa to help did increase our chances of catching Kony, but was not quite enough.

Now that Kony’s face and story is known almost everywhere around the world, our chances of finally catching Kony are increasing each day. Another person who has visited the country prior to today and has a clear understanding on the nightmare that these Ugandan people are suffering from is Senator James Inhofe, a Republican. Inhofe speaks about his opinion on the LRA by stating ’I have witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by the LRA, and this will help end Kony’s heinous acts that have created a human rights crisis in Africa.

I have been fervently involved in trying to prevent further abductions and murders of Ugandan children, and today’s action offers hope that the end of the LRA is in sight’ (Press). Our government officials are completely aware of what is happening in Uganda, Africa. It is up to us as citizens of our country to prove how much we care about these victims and how much support we are all willing to show towards this conflict. If America was to ever fall into this dilemma, we would expect other countries to do the same for ours.

The LRA is a hated group that is affecting Uganda, Africa, as well as other countries surrounding it. The harsh acts that Joseph Kony and his followers take part in need to come to an end because he wipes out the whole country. The victims do not deserve to be treated with such disrespect and torture. People in Uganda have the freedom to practice any religion, and Kony cannot overthrow the government to change what is alright right. With the help of our President Barack Obama, James Inhofe, our very own government, celebrities, and of course ourselves… we can make a difference and finally put Uganda at peace.

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