Kony: The real story
Posted Friday, March 23 2012 at 16:56
- Charles Onyango-Obbo covered some of the worst phases of the Kony war. In this two-part series, he tells the story of Kony from 26 years ago, when it all began.
This is the story of Kony, or rather Kony 2012, that sensational and controversial video by the US charity Invisible Children campaigning for the arrest of Ugandan war criminal and warlord Joseph Kony, which has gone off the social media charts.
I covered some of the worst phases of the Kony war, so let us go back 26 years ago, which is where this story must begin:
When some years ago I was editing The Monitor, the leading independent daily in Uganda, we got into so much trouble with President Yoweri Museveni’s government, it seemed it was the only thing we did.
When Museveni was in a foul mood, he would refer to The Monitor as “Uganda’s Enemy Number One.”
When he was more cheerful, he would call the MD Wafula Oguttu (now MP) or myself for a more amiable chat.
In November 2002, then Kenya president Daniel arap Moi, who was stepping down from office ahead of the December election that brought President Mwai Kibaki to power, was doing his farewell rounds in East Africa.
On November 28, he was in Kampala meeting President Museveni when there was a terrorist attack on the Kikambala Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, a favourite of Israeli tourists; that killed 15 people.
There was also a missile attack on an Israeli charter plane carrying tourists on the same day nearby.
Moi cut short his trip to Kampala and rushed back to Kenya.
Just over two months later, in January, I transferred to Nairobi to work for Nation Media Group, which had bought a controlling interest in The Monitor.
If Moi had not left power, or if his party, the Kenya African National Union (Kanu), had not lost power, perhaps I would never have got my work permit.
To get a work permit, the security chaps do a security clearance. Not surprisingly, when Kenyan security checked with Kampala, they got back one of the largest filings they had ever received from Uganda.
The Kenya immigration officers had been reading my column in The EastAfrican and, as it turned out, following my never-ending battles with the Museveni regime from both Daily Nation and The Monitor, that used to sell well in Nairobi (before the Internet ruined the party).
When I went to fill in the paperwork for my work permit and get fingerprinted, a few immigration officers came to stare at me.
Two of them later told me they could not reconcile Onyango-Obbo the journalist with what the person they read about in the security files, so they wanted to see that I did not have some strange horns growing on my head and Spock ears.