- Written by Rachel Young
- April 17, 2012
Not much is known about Joseph Kony except that he is an asshole. I first learned about this mysterious man when my best friend, Facebook, alerted me that “3 friends are currently talking about Joseph Kony.” I scoffed. As a college student, I am perpetually surrounded by those who take activism to heart. Only when the number of my friends talking about it increased to 15 and 16 did I take the time out of my oh-so busy schedule to become one with the activists.
I watched the video, and like most of the people my age, I was transfixed. I couldn’t even sleep that night because the sounds of that child crying echoed in my subconscious. Suddenly, everything I did was for Africa—except wear my diamond necklace. Not even the most incredibly effective rhetoric on cruelty and slavery could make me forsake my expertly-mined diamonds.
And then the co-founder of Invisible Children, the face of the KONY 2012 video, was detained for beating the cement with his bare fists, naked, in San Diego. Critiques littered the internet and I was disgusted. “You all just don’t understand. You’re too preoccupied with material concerns to even grasp the situation!” I barked “This is about more than the Unites States and cultural borders, it’s about HUMANITY!”
Amid my tears, I came to a realization—I had to find out the truth for myself.
I needed to travel to Uganda and find Mr. Joseph Kony. If not to see if the crimes he was committing were actually how they were portrayed, to ask him how he kept his skin so unbelievably smooth.
I arrived in Uganda 7,754.7 miles later, and boy were my arms tired. I quickly found myself in an African bazaar, with tons of women in brightly colored patterns and woven baskets on their heads screaming at me to try some of their products. I said, “No, I’m on a mission to find Joseph Kony, but I would love to try some of your ostrich eggs on my way back.” I found myself lost in the Sahara, and after I almost died of thirst I stumbled upon a pack of lionesses. They carried me on their backs to the village where Kony lived. After traveling almost the entire continent of Africa in one day, I was a little weary and ended up passing out before I could even stand up to greet the group of women who met me.
As I woke, my vision came into focus. I looked up and saw that the person reviving me was none other than Joseph Kony, my sole reason for visiting Africa. Startled, I jumped up, but he just sat back and laughed.
“I bet you have a couple questions to ask me—apparently I am very famous now in America,” Kony said with a smile plastered on his face. He seemed happy that I was alive, and not in the least concerned that I was an American who genuinely wanted him indicted by the ICC.
“Aren’t you supposed to be in hiding?” I stammered.
“No,” he chuckled, “I never had been in hiding. In fact, most people in Uganda know just where to find me. Americans do not know where I am because to white people, how do you say, most black people have similar appearances?”
I stopped to think. It is often said that to most white folk, most black people look alike. But I never thought this phenomenon would prevent us from locating one of the world’s world war criminals. “Wait, people in Africa don’t hate you? What you do is awful!”
Kony let out a hearty laugh. “Oh, I have been getting kind of a bad reputation lately… But no. I don’t like to think what I do is bad. Would you like to see what I do?” I nodded feverishly, and he led me out a back door into a lush landscape of watering holes and palms trees. Everywhere I looked there were little children. Some were grooming animals and some were playfully wrestling with each other. Others brandished weapons, but all were laughing and happy. I was astonished.
“I do not abduct children—I take them from abusive parents who refuse to give them up. They live a better life with me than they would have at their homes. In Uganda, our foster care system is not necessarily ‘advanced,’ which leaves the task up to vigilantes.” His eloquence surprised me. “I take them here where I have formed a coalition to protect endangered wildlife from poaching. Many of these children have told me that I give their lives purpose.” And just as he said that, two ten-year olds ran by, kicking a soccer ball back and forth. Kony waved endearingly at them, and they waved back. The love between them was palpable.
“But, what about forcing them to murder their parents and selling the girls as sex slaves and, and…” I was completely thrown by this reversal of good and bad. Joseph laughed and placed his hand gingerly on my shoulder. “Do you really believe everything the media tells you?”
Profoundly happy, I walked back to the bazaar where I eagerly tasted their ostrich egg and even helped these ladies carry baskets of water back to their huts. With April 20th approaching, I knew no one would believe my story. As the war between the Invisible Children and the critics raged on, I was able to sit back and know, truthfully, that Joseph Kony is an okay guy.