I noticed two of my grandchildren and a niece had shared the “Invisible children” film on my facebook site.

This was a bit surprising, because one is a church going, volunteering teenager, the second is a sophisticated student in the UK, and the third one is a heavy metal music loving Goth.

But all are united in publicizing the effort to arrest Joseph Kony, the leader of the so called “Lord’s Resistance Army” in Uganda.

If you want to see the film, check it out on YOUTUBE.

Kony’s history of killing, torturing and kidnapping has been around for years. The BBC article on his history shows how the group was originally a political in origin, but later morphed into terrorism for terrorism’s sake.

Mr Kony himself is thought to have at least 60 wives, as he and his senior commanders take the pick of the girls they capture.

He sees himself as a spirit medium…

“When you go to fight you make the sign of the cross first. If you fail to do this, you will be killed,” one young fighter who escaped from the LRA told US-based Human Rights Watch.

“You must also take oil and draw a cross on your chest, your forehead, and each shoulder, and you must make a cross in oil on your gun. They say that the oil is the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Mr Kony appears to believe that his role is to cleanse the Acholi people.

He uses biblical references to explain why it is necessary to kill his own people, since they have, in his view, failed to support his cause

Mr. Kony, who claims he is a spirit medium, uses this power to influence his followers.

But no religion would approve of his actions. Christians would call him diabolic, Africans of traditional belief would recognize his actions as a form of witchcraft, and secular psychologists would realize it’s similarity with other religious-like political cults that deify the leader and deteriorate into evil, be they Jonestown (mass suicide of 800) or the Aum Shinrikyo (gassing subway passengers in Japan), or the Taiping Rebellion (that resulted in millions dying in China in 1846).

There is a bit of backlash about this: Africans resent another “poor Africa” story that would lead westerners to think of Africa as a primitive tribal world, not one where everyone has cellphones and business is booming.

But the dirty little secret is that this monster and his group have been around for years, and few outside those of us who have worked in Africa knew or cared about it.  I knew about him and his actions, because when I was young I worked as a missionary doctor in Africa and keep in touch with friends there.

But few folks in the US or UK know anything about Africa: even my grandkids didn’t know about him: they are into their own narrow world, one where such things only occur in horror movies that aren’t real.

But now they know: sometimes the horror is real, and happens to kids their own age.

Ironically, the west has already started a major campaign to catch him, so I doubt that this will do much to hasten his capture.

Last year, President Obama, to his credit, had sent in a small number of US military to help track Mr. Kony using sophisticated technology.

So the “white man’s burden”? A black president helping a black country? No, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

It’s because Uganda has a well trained army, and has been “helping” the US for years by fighting terrorism as part of the African Union’s army in Somalia. So it’s sort of “I wash your back you wash mine” help. Uganda can send troops to stablize Somalia, where a misstep by US troops (as in Blackhawk down) would have huge ramifications, but the media won’t notice a clash between two black factions, so they can fight a war without having to fight the bleeding heart media manipulation by terrorists claiming to be innocent civilian.

So to thank them, the US will help them track Kony, similar to the way the US is helping to track the Abu Sayaf in the Philippines, by using modern surviellence that is not available to these countries.

So will the “Invisible children” video make a difference? To catching Kony, probably not. They will do it, one way or another.

Will it blacken Africa’s reputation? Again, probably not. Those who care about Africa know that that continent is on the edge of a major economic boom, and the others? Well, when even writers on the usually sophisticted Atlantic Monthly blog generalize about Africa’s homophobia and blame it on “evangelical Christians”, as if the complicated continent of Africa was homogenous mass, a video isn’t going to change their mind one way or another either.

What it will do is what they used to call “consciousness raising”: it will inform our teenagers that evil does exist, and that it needs to be opposed: in this case, by stopping those who do the killing.

That alone is a big change from the naive idea to “give peace a chance”: because sometimes, ignoring evil means letting such monsters continue to torture and kill.

And hopefully a follow up film will make the rounds, showing how NGO’s, volunteers and church groups are rehabilitating the child soldiers, as one of my friends helped do after the Zimbabwean fight for independence.

As the Bible says: There is a time for war, and a time for peace. And we need both.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines.

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