KAMPALA, Uganda — Jenifer Atim refused to watch “Kony 2012.” She could not watch a film about what she already knows, rather, experienced.
At 19, Atim is already a mother of four. Rebels belonging to Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) fathered her children while she was in captivity.
When she was abducted from her village of Lakwana in Omoro County, northern Uganda, with eight other girls, 12 boys and six adult men, she witnessed the murder of her mother at the hands of the rebels. She was 9 years old. The rebels were just as old as she was — very young. But they were armed and brutal.
She recalls how they chopped her mother into pieces and ordered her to pack the dismembered body into a sisal sack. That was in 2003.
“I was handed over to an old man for a wife. He was a big man in the rebel camp. The day I was handed over to him, he raped me that night and I bled for nearly a month,” she said. “Other rebels laughed at me, saying I was just a foolish girl. There were other young girls we found in the camp who were also wives of
All the abducted girls are sex slaves; some have children fathered by Kony himself. And few, like Atim, managed to escape and return home. Several have lost their lives in the attempt.
Atim's story is one shared by many children born and raised in northern Uganda in the past three decades. Scars of conflict are written on their faces, and sorrow is felt as she narrates her life story. She hopes it was well represented in the Kony 2012 film.
Ironically, the name Kony means “help” in his native Acholi language, the largest ethnic group in Northern Uganda. But, the mention of “Kony” sends quivers down the spine of people like Atim who have witnessed his brutality.
Kony's shadow reached the world, thanks to the Invisible Children's Kony 2012 video. Now, the world knows what Ugandans have been “accustomed to” for the last 26 years since LRA started its insurgency.
In recent years, people in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic have shared this gruesome nightmare, even when Kony was running away from the Ugandan army after his defeat. He has left behind a trail of death, rape, kidnap, kids turned into terror machines and property looted.
For all his heinous crimes with his bundle of little soldiers, Kony — who was born in 1962, the same year Uganda got its independence from the British — has been the most hated Ugandan alive, even before the film that has turned him into a global icon was made.