If you read religion news from around the world, you’ve probably heard about a shadowy group called the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. You’ve probably wondered what part religion has played in this group known for its child soldiers, mutilations of innocent civilians and plans to create a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments. And who is Joseph Kony, the self-styled messenger of God who abducted thousands of children over two decades?
In his new book The Wizard of the Nile, British journalist Matthew Green investigates those questions and offers explanations based on political, tribal and regional tensions behind the conflict known outside for its bizarre religious trappings.
Some background before going any further — Matt worked for Reuters in east Africa for five years until 2006 before leaving to write the book. But we’re apparently not the only ones who liked his “splendidly spun yarn” (review in The Times). His current employer, the Financial Times, ran an excerpt last week.
Researching the Lord’s Resistance Army was tough and its leader Joseph Kony was particularly hard to track down. But journalists in the region also carry part of the blame for not exposing his story earlier, Matt says:
“For a long time, the only explanation was that there was this lunatic with an army of child soldiers and a maniacal obsession to rule by the Ten Commandments while breaking every one of them. Part of the reason was that this idea of the dreadful, dreadlocked one, the Pied Piper with a harem of 80 wives and army of child soldiers in the bush was so seductive we tended to stop there and not ask how somebody so apparently deranged survived so long.”