Sunday, 15 April 2012

"Kony 2012" -The Showing in Gulu

The riot started because the police were taking the “peace candles” they were supposed to be handing out. Someone threw a rock at an officer, who in return fired shots, inevitably causing the crowd to wildly disperse. A child was trampled to death.

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.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. The article represented here:

    ( is inaccurate, as I was given a first-hand account. The person that died was not a woman, but was a child.

    The article also says that police closed off all gates but one... Now why would they do such a thing?

  3. As you mention, you were not present during the conflict but received an eyewitness report from someone who was present. But the authors of the Black Star News story you reference also state they talked to people present during the event, who gave a different account of the conflict.

    What both your account, and the Black Star News account seem to agree on, however, is that the police fired upon the audience, who then panicked. Why would police fire upon an unarmed crowd of people peacefully assembled to watch a movie? Your account, which states that ensued following the attempted distribution of "peace candles" among the audience, raises questions as significant as the Black Star News account - it suggests the police in Gulu are very quick to resort to firing upon unarmed civilians, even women and children.

  4. It is also very interesting to me that you felt the KONY 2012 part 2 video had terrified members of the audience, by giving audience members the misleading impression that Kony's LRA had reentered Northern Uganda.

    The genesis of what you described to be a riot interests me - it seems strange that an attempted distribution of candles could trigger such a thing, or that members of the audience, who presumably are familiar with the conduct of local police - that is what to expect from them - would throw rocks at the police.

    But, as we know, crowds can quickly get out of hand, and unexpected things can trigger crowd violence. I hope to hear more accounts of what transpired at the tragic event.

  5. Glad you were safe but also got to be a part of the event. As a mother, I wanted you to stay home however lol!