Last month, leaders from the Acholi Sub-Region in Uganda held a screening of Kony 2012. In addition to over 300 government officials, religious leaders and cultural leaders from Northern Uganda, three representatives of civil society from Dungu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, attended to open the dialogue between those formerly affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and those currently caught up in the conflict.
For the past six years, Northern Uganda has been free of LRA activity and recovery efforts have resulted in a peaceful and growing economy. But elsewhere, the LRA has been responsible for 149 reported civilian deaths and 589 reported abductions in the past year alone (source: LRA Crisis Tracker). For the representatives from D.R.C., the LRA war is a continuing reality.
“You know. You have experienced what this rebellion has done here. They are doing exactly the same thing in our place,” Aaurma Sambia, civil society member of Dungu, D.R.C., said in his speech. “We really do not know what will be the outcome of this situation for us.”
For many of the Acholi leaders, this was their first time to hear from those who continue to be directly affected by the LRA.
“We really take every pain that you are going through as part of our pain,” said Akena Alfred, LC5 Chairman. “We call upon government and international bodies to help us so that the war of Kony stops.”
Acholi leaders shared their knowledge of the origin and nature of the rebel group in order to caution their visitors not to view the defectors as ruthless killers, but as children of Uganda, in need of help and rehabilitation. They also pledged their support to efforts that will end the conflict, regardless of where it is taking place.
“The four governments and other members of the international community should work hand in hand to eliminate the menace of LRA,” said Alfred Omony-Ogaba, Resident District Commissioner from Lamwo District.
Although ending the violence in LRA-affected regions may seem daunting at present, seeing the growth and recovery in Gulu gave the visitors from D.R.C. hope that the day will come when the nightmare of the LRA can finally be put behind them and a peaceful society can emerge in its place.