New exhibition tells story of Uganda’s child soldiers
Christian Aid has produced an exhibition to share the stories of some of the survivors of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda.
Led by fanatical military leader Joseph Kony, the LRA is known largely for its practice of encouraging the abduction of children for use as soldiers during a bloody war in Uganda, which was brought to light most notably by Invisible Children’s viral Stop Kony 2012 campaign.
Kony operated in Uganda between 1987 and 2006, pursuing a vision for the nation which he believed to combine the Ten Commandments with local Acholi traditions. The LRA was initially set up to counter the National Resistance Army in Uganda, and used mutilation, rape and torture to terrorise the population into submission.
Though Kony is now believed to be in hiding in the Central African Republic and no longer operates in Uganda, he was once responsible for the abduction of at least 20,000 children to become child soldiers – one of whom was Norman Okello, who is at the heart of the new exhibition.
Aged just 12, Norman was captured by rebel soldiers and forced to join the LRA. “I was a very innocent child. I lived an ordinary life. A village child,” he says.
“After being abducted, they transformed me to be a fighter and to be a real killer.”
Norman explains that the LRA used children because they are easy to train and manipulate: “They say ‘If you don’t kill this person, I will kill you.'”