A searching work of investigative, on-the-ground reporting from the front lines of a long-roiling conflict in the heart of Africa.
The civil war in Uganda, notes Financial Times West Africa correspondent Green, has lasted more than 20 years, a complex struggle marked by ethnic and religious rivalries as well as mere party politics. That war has spilled over into neighboring states that have had terrible troubles of their own—Kenya, Sudan, Congo—and has cost untold numbers of lives. It has also been fought, in large part, by children, most kidnapped and pressed into the service of warlords. The figure of Green’s title is one such warlord, a man named Joseph Kony, whose Lord’s Resistance Army bears a name that speaks to his wish to rule not by the Sharia law of the Islamists, but by the Ten Commandments. One imagines, while reading Green’s book, that Kony is not aware of the sixth, for his army is a murderous lot—and one given to rape, looting, abuse, torture and countless other misdeeds. Green entered the army’s orbit with a simple question, as he says: “How could one maniac leading an army of abducted children hold half a country hostage for twenty years?” One answer—as demonstrated by Ishmael Beah’s memoir A Long Way Gone (2007)—is that children make ferocious soldiers, if ones in whom “the schoolboy…had not quite died.” Such was the case with a youngster who hauled off a prized textbook as loot following a raid, in addition to 139 young women who would be sexually enslaved. Battling the forces of a corrupt government whose ranks are also filled with children, Kony’s band finally drew the attention of the International Criminal Court in the Hague, which has issued a 33-count indictment against him. Yet Kony, as we learn from this vivid book, goes free, “adrift in the wilderness,” and the war rages on.
Essential for anyone interested in understanding the politics of modern Africa.