JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN – My interpreter says that a manager he spoke to in our hotel told him that today Juba is especially hot. There are no gated communities in this, the urban sprawl of the capital of world’s newest country, the Republic of South Sudan, and thus no suburbs.
My interpreter and I have arranged a meeting with Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, by claiming that we are members of The Family, saying by phone that we were interested in wiping out what we told Mr. Kony was the “scourge” of Ugandan homosexuality, which, we said, Europeans homosexuals were bent on promulgating throughout Uganda’s Acholi people.
Meeting us in a common area, I say, “Here,” handing Mr. Kony, 50, a DLSR camera with video capability. “Here’s the Russell meltdown video queued up. I appreciate your keeping up your end of the bargain. Here is my end.”
Mr. Kony takes the camera and looks into the screen on its back. Two of his subordinates, perhaps in their early 20s, lean over the video eagerly as Mr. Russell, the leader of U.S.-based civil-political group, the Army for Peace, strips off his clothing just outside of San Diego’s Seaworld. He applauds his smartphone, whose voice interpretation software he grandiosely addresses. As Russell curses the devil and onlookers, the wizened face of the old theocrat twists his mustache up into a huge grin. Having indicated approval, the other two men notice, letting out gleeful sighs, laughing, too.
As they all laugh, Mr. Kony high-fives both of them. My interpreter, who would have to remain anonymous, would paraphrase the old militia leader. Mr. Kony says to the others happily, “See? This is just like I said from what we heard on the BBC World Service. Clearly the devil infected this man and made him a homosexual because he stood up against the Lord’s glorious army.”
“Why do you think that Joseph Russell entered what he calls ‘reactive psychosis’ like that, Mr. Kony?” I ask.
“Because,” he replies, “six out of the eight spirits who continue to talk to me tell me that God will make those who oppose me crazy; and if not completely insane, fascinated with breeding in order to dispel otherwise intuitive accusations of homosexualness.
“Do you see how he smacks the sidewalk?” he says, laughing, moving the camera between us, pointing at the the tabloid video.
I am consciously aware that normally this might have made me laugh yet I have no interest in laughing. I gulp. “I was meaning to ask you about that, sir. You were, after all, a freedom fighter against the tyrannical Musevni, who utilizes child soldiers himself.”
“Exactly. Exactly. And how people are unaware of Musevni’s own use of soldiers, in the Army that Invisible Children wants you to give money to, it’s just so typical of these –
He shifts to his right and speaks to the younger man. His subordinate utters a single English reply.
Mr. Kony quickly looks back at me and says, “Hipsters.
“And I have a solution. Two American angels, with whom I am in communion” – he says, reaching into his bag for two 8×11 inkjet prints of Bono and George Clooney – “are communicating to me about their new hope for instituting the 10 Commandments as the ruler of all lands.”
Noticing that he does not want me to say the names of these “angels” aloud, I ask, “With such a major arrest warrant after you, how long do you think you can evade capture here in Sudan?”
“I am really glad to be in South Sudan,” he says. “What, with both Oklahoman senators interested in talking to groups like Invisible Children that want to find me in Uganda, there’s no more interest in coming here to find me. We think this may be a push to the Victoria oil.”
“Do you think that the creator of the film was inciting war?” I ask.
“Oh, yes, absolutely. I understand through the radio that some of your radio hosts in your country are saying that I’m going to be like the new Che Guevara in reputation. As for this group saying I’m mentally disturbed, now, that’s just crazy. And it’s just disingenious to claim that I don’t have an ideology.”
He makes an allusion to the Downfall Internet meme depicting Adolf Hitler with generals, adding, “I quite obviously lack the historical significance of Adolf Hitler.” He looks over to one of his companions.
Without looking back at his commander, one of the two subordinates said, “Osama bin Laden never understood violence as viscerally as I have had to. His was a very rich man who could have lived as a – as a lazy person his whole life, had he wished.”
Mr. Kony moves to hand the camera back to me.
“Oh no,” I say, “please, please don’t kill us.”
All three immediately look away from me and back to the screen, as Mr. Kony nods, not threateningly, but slowly, almost understandingly.