Childhood’s End

For 19 years, Joseph Kony has been enslaving, torturing, raping, and murdering Ugandan children, many of whom have become soldiers for his “Lord’s Resistance Army,” going on to torture, rape, and kill other children. The author exposes the vicious insanity—and cynical politics—behind one of Africa’s greatest nightmares.

  1. In William Faulkner’s story “Raid,” set in Alabama and Mississippi in the closing years of the Civil War, a white family becomes aware of a sudden, vast, nighttime migration through the scorched countryside. They can hear it and even smell it before they can see it; it’s the black population voting with its feet and heading, so it fervently believes, for the river Jordan: “We couldn’t see them and they did not see us; maybe they didn’t even look, just walking fast in the dark with that panting, hurrying murmuring, going on … ”

    Northern Uganda is centered on the headstreams of the Nile rather than the Jordan, and is a strange place for me to find myself put in mind of Faulkner, but every evening at dusk the main town of Gulu starts to be inundated by a mass of frightened humanity, panting, hurrying, and murmuring as it moves urgently through the crepuscular hours. Most of the “night commuters,” as they are known locally, are children. They leave their outlying villages and walk as many as eight kilometers to huddle for safety in the towns. And then, in the morning, often without breakfast and often without shoes, they walk all the way back again to get to their schools and their families. That’s if the former have not been burned and the latter have not been butchered. These children are not running toward Jordan and the Lord; they are running for their lives from the “Lord’s Resistance Army” (L.R.A.). This grotesque, zombie-like militia, which has abducted, enslaved, and br...