Former Ugandan child soldier tells his story at event

Lauren Mogannam

It was a normal night for Boni and his family in northern Uganda until he was abducted by Lord’s Resistance Army and taken to the “bush” to be trained as a child soldier.

“People have been killed in front of me,” the 19-year-old said while sharing the story of his internment as a soldier with Northwestern students Tuesday night. “The conditions were harsh. I managed to escape.”

Boni is one of thousands of children who have been abducted in Uganda since 1986, when a war began between Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA, and the Ugandan government. The struggle has lasted 24 years and has displaced about 2 million civilians.

About 80 people filled a Fisk Hall room Tuesday night for a screening of Invisible Children’s 2003 film, “Rough Cut,” which depicts Africa’s longest war and the plight of Ugandans. The film was followed by a question-and-answer session with Boni, one of the film’s characters, and Leo, Boni’s Invisible Children mentor. The event was sponsored by NU’s Invisible Children chapter, Amnesty International chapter, AIESEC chapter, STAND and the Residence Hall Association.

It is important for NU students to be exposed to global issues that still need to be remedied, even if they don’t personally affect them, said Alice Lee, the rising co-president for NU’s Invisible Children chapter.

“It is our duty to be aware of things like this that are happening and fight for the right thing,” the SESP sophomore said.

NU’s Invisible Children chapter started last year,, said communication sophomore and co-President Jenny Lee.

Invisible Children’s mission is to raise awareness about the situation, restore communities, build schools and make sure children have a chance at getting an education, the co-presidents said.

Terri Shih said the film was much more powerful than a news article.

“It made me want to do something about it,” the Communication junior said. “The fact that people are so happy and resilient after such a tragedy is amazing.”

Even though life was hard, Boni said he has hope for a better future. He is now a high school student in his home country, with aspirations of becoming a journalist.

“Normally I am a fearful boy, but nowadays I don’t fear,” he said. “I lost my dream before, but now I have another dream.”[email protected]