“Today’s event is not about Invisible Children, it is about us,” Norbert Mao, the leader of Uganda’s Democratic Party and native of northern Uganda said at the Cover the Night launch in Gulu, Uganda last weekend.
The event was organized by Gulu District Local Government in partnership with Invisible Children, Northern Uganda Media Club, Gulu District NGO Forum and the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative. Kony 2012 and Kony 2012 Part II: Beyond Famous were screened on Friday, April 13th, followed by an all-day event on Saturday, April 14th. Events on Saturday featured a Peace March, speeches by Ugandan leaders and representatives from Central Africa, performances from local artists and cultural dancers and ended with a soccer match between members of media and the local government.
Mao spoke at Pece stadium on Saturday, encouraging the audience to take the moral challenge posed in the Kony 2012 films. “It is important not to forget our responsibility to fight for what is right.”
The event’s theme “Our liberty is bound together: Peace here, peace everywhere,” was chosen to bring the local community together and show support for those in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan who are currently affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Northern Uganda has enjoyed peace since the LRA was driven out in 2006, and many were not aware of the extent of continued LRA activity across borders in Central Africa. Guest speakers from LRA-affected communities in DRC shared their stories and experiences with the audience in Gulu – stories that the people of northern Uganda could identify with.
“The community there feels like there is a general lack of volunteerism or willingness in human nature to help bring an end to this war,” Lea Mbikaza Alphonsine from Dungu, DRC explained. “They feel like the world has let them down and nobody is looking at them.”
Public officials, religious leaders and other stakeholders attended the event and shared their support for the capture of Kony and the spread of peace in the region. Representing the Office of the Prime Minister, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah was supportive of the cause, advocating that “the search for peace should continue and we must also remember what we went through.”
Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children, was in Gulu for the event and emphasized IC’s commitment to support development in northern Uganda for the long haul.
“The world is more malleable than we think it is,” Keesey said. “The better world we want is coming. It’s just waiting for us to stop at nothing.”
The people of northern Uganda have overcome great tragedy, and although they face challenges as they rebuild, their strength is evident as they call for justice and the same opportunity for peace for their neighbors in DRC, CAR and South Sudan.