I was there at the beginning… The whole world had reacted to “Kony 2012.” I felt like I needed to see how the people it had actually affected reacted. Even though we knew we probably shouldn’t be there, it felt too monumental to miss.
But when more and more people began entering the stadium, a combination of our common sense and fear took over, and we opted to watch from the balcony of a hotel across the street. From this view, we saw that the crowd easily collected over 20,000 people.
The movie started, and there was only silence. The stillness of the crowd was peaceful. And I watched them standing together-a people united, reliving the atrocities they had experienced just a few years earlier.
One of the international concerns about this video was that Invisible Children had given inaccurate information. Yes, those things had happened. But no, they are not still happening… at least not in Northern Uganda. The war has been over for over five years now. When the people of Gulu saw “Kony 2012” huddled together by the thousands in the stadium Friday night, they thought that they were being shown present-day footage. And a people who had feared for their lives, and for the lives of their children had been conned into believing that they were still in danger.
We left before the riot started. I was at a bar when I got a concerned phone call from my supervisor, who was calling to make sure that I wasn’t at the stadium when the shots rang out.
Ironically, the violence started with the distribution of peace candles. Inevitably, it was perpetuated by the police officers who provoked it. The peace vigil was interrupted but those claiming to protect the people. The ones who were there to prevent the violence, were the very ones who insinuated it. And in the process, a child died. That pisses me off.