Uganda is more than Idi Amin, Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army and Child Soldiers
Uganda is a country at peace – Northern Uganda is rebuilding and what was destroyed by the war is being slowly restored
Tell someone in the West that you are going to Uganda and most often you will get some raised eyebrows and then “Oh the place where Idi Amin is from.” Or you might get something about the place where Joseph Kony lives, you might even get something about child soldiers or a war is going on.
Every day I check the search terms that people use to reach our website “kabiza.com”- the most common search terms that people use are “child soldiers in Uganda, Joseph Kony, Idi Amin.” Something tells me that most people have a very distorted view of Uganda.
Idi Amin ruled this country from 1971 to 1979, but his legacy lives on in the minds of most westerners, so when they think of Uganda, up comes Idi Amin. Idi Amin has not been in Uganda since 1979, he was buried in Saudi Arabia in 2003 where he spent the last years of his life.
Regarding child soldiers in Uganda, the answer is simple today, there are no active child soldiers inside of Uganda. There are former child soldiers that escaped from the Lord’s Resistance Army or were captured, sadly they carry with them the inner and outer scars of some terrible times. The government has given those former soldiers and rebel concubines amnesty and some small financial assistance to reintegrate them back into Ugandan Society. The LRA does have child soldiers inside the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan but inside of Uganda are only those who escaped Joseph Kony’s and the clutches of LRA and the Ugandan Government does not recruit children into its Armed Forces.
August 26 – 2006 the signing of a cessation of hostilities between the Lord’s Resistance Army the Government took place in Juba, South Sudan – yet in 2012 you can still find current news reports about the ongoing civil war in Uganda (primarily based on presentations of an NGO in the USA – though the main website of that organization reports that there is no war inside of Uganda – however tell that to local newspapers in the USA who report on Invisible Children meetings on College and High-School campuses across North America).
The Lord’s Resistance Army and Joseph Kony have not been active inside of Uganda since 2006 – it has been active and caused havoc in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and primarily South Sudan.
In 2012 the LRA has gone down in size from its time in Uganda – most total estimates are less than 400 LRA fighters. They move in small groups and cause havoc in the countries mentioned above – which is very unfortunate – the Ugandan Army has continued to pursue the LRA outside of Uganda in nearby countries with cooperation of those countries.
Uganda-though at peace for some years still faces the scars of that war waged by the LRA are still there and it will take years for them to heal, especially the ones on the inside of people that lived in Northern Uganda, the children who lived in fear of being abducted and spent their nights in towns such as Gulu trying evade the LRA. 30,000 children were abducted, brainwashed and made into soldiers, concubines, wives and today their struggle is to learn to live in peace, a tough road for many. Two million people were internally displaced in Uganda and many of them have returned to their former homes, others carry the visible scars of that war on their bodies and in their heart and soul.
Here is the present reality in spite of erroneous and misleading reports in the West: Uganda today is more than Idi Amin, more than Joseph Kony and his LRA with its child soldiers. Uganda is a country of 34 million plus people, the youngest country in the world and it is said some of the friendliest people in Africa. Uganda is one of the most beautiful countries in the world from snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains to the Rainforests of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with half of the Mountain Gorillas in the world. Uganda, a country the size of the UK has over 1040 different species of birds, the bio-diversity of this country is amazing.
Sad Reality regarding the Pearl of Africa-Uganda: Uganda keeps being misrepresented in the media as a country in Chaos (I as an American feel quite safe here and have felt safe since the early 90’s). Bloggers, misinformed reporters continue reporting erroneous things regarding the real situation in Uganda – harming Ugandans more than they are helping. Tourism is one of the major industries in Uganda and every ten new tourists create one new job in Uganda – a job with meaning and often a livable wage – including tips from tourists. Erroneous reports including ones by foreign countries paint a wrong picture of Uganda – a picture that most Ugandans find contrary to the on the ground situation inside of Uganda.
Uganda has suffered a lot but the resilience of its people is remarkable and since 1986 when President Museveni took over, great strides forward have been made. Today Uganda is regaining its luster once again as the Pearl of Africa and it would be sad if the only thing that people think about when they think of Uganda is Idi Amin, Joseph Kony or child soldiers…Uganda is much more than that – Uganda is the Pearl of Africa…from Kampala…jon
“If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa.” John Hemingway, African Journeys