Kony: Hunt for the World’s Most Wanted
By Jonathan Couturier
In the wake of the Kony 2012 campaign that went viral attracting more than 100 million viewers, for BBC Panorama, BAFTA-winning reporter Sorious Samura travelled to the frontline of the battle to bring Joseph Kony to justice. The result is an incisive and often shocking documentary that asks why, after more than two decades, has the brutal leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) not been found?
Leading a small group of fighters calling itself the Lord’s Resistance Army, composed of many abducted children turned child soldiers, he is responsible for the death of more than 100,000 people, and the displacement of millions more. Sorious Samura traces more than 25 years of violence, interviewing Kony’s victims, his former LRA fighters and those who hunt him.
In a Q&A following the screening, reporter Sorious Samura, producer Andrew Bell and Ron McCullagh of Insight News TV shared their experiences, and the moments which could not be included in the final cut. When Bell was asked what he thought about the the failure to catch Kony, he said that “tracking him in the jungle is useless […] the only way to get his people out of that jungle is through hearts and minds”.
Samura weighed in, suggesting that he escaped punishment for so long because “for a lot of Ugandans, this man is seen as a hero. We shouldn’t try to hide this fact”. McCullagh added that “for lots of them, Kony was not a mad man”. Referring to Kony’s claim he is guided by spirits, Bell also warned that “many totally believe he is plugged in to the spirit world”.
However, keeping the panel on its toes, a young graduate from the audience warned against over-simplifying the role of traditional beliefs in Kony’s survival, a point with which Samura concurred, asking “where does the West come from to judge other people? […] You never hear Africans calling the holy trinity crazy”.
The audience then returned to the issue of corruption, asking whether the West was too soft on African governments. One audience member asked whether the West needed “to change the way it does business with Africa?”. Samura answered “The West needs to say enough is enough: We will not give you any more money until you sort yourselves out”.
Bell reflected part of the problem was that African governments were abandoning their own people. He cast a chill on the room, recalling how on location.“I was brought to a group of children or teenagers sleeping rough under some containers. Their parents had been killed, they had nothing to do. My guide told me ‘the next Kony is sleeping under that container’ […] These kids are going to come back to haunt them”.