By David Livingstone Okumu, Akena Moses & Sam Lawino
As nightfall eclipsed the day on Friday, April 13, 2012, Pece stadium was the place to be as people from all walks of life trekked to the stadium to watch the infamous Kony 2012 film. As a curtain raiser, the organizers lined up a number of local artists to entertain the crowd.
By 6pm the stadium was filled to capacity of about 10, 000 people, with others clung on tree branches and the stadium wall to watch the video that has caused so much apprehension and shrouded in controversy like no other film ever made about Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Not soon after the film started showing, there were murmurs and jeers of disapproval from the audience most of whom say they did not understand the film.
Angry crowds then start walking out; hurling insults and abuses against the organisers of the event, with many saying that it fell short of the expectation of the victims. Many expected to see in the film, the scars of those who were caught up in the middle of the atrocities committed during the two decades brutal war in northern Uganda between the government of President Yoweri Museveni and the LRA.
“We expected to see Acholi in the video but only the white people, so they really exploited our suffering to make money,” Akello Mariam 54 said.
Akello who was surrounded by other disappointed local residents wondered why the many people who were shot by guns and had serious scars had not been interviewed or their stories told by the film makers and why the video downplayed the reality of the war.
Morine Aryemo who made a 15km journey from Lukodi in Bungatira Sub County survived the 2004 Lukodi massacre where she lost both parents and a brother. She too, was unimpressed.
“We were told that we will see the way the rebels abducted and killed people, but what was shown fell short of that,” she said, adding further that she did not come to the stadium only to watch performances by local artists.
John Langol a former ex LRA combatant had no kind words either as he joined many others in protesting the portrayal of the video: “they should have shown us how Kony was fighting, abducting or killing but their version was only a show of who is who in their organization,” Langol said.
“This is a deception and they should never repeat or they face stones,” he added.
Soon after that the crowd turned rowdy. By 10.00pm, the crowd began pelting stones at the pavilion and shouting abuses at the organisers and the film makers.
The Police were immediately deployed and started firing teargas and live bullets to disperse the crowd.
According to some of the attendants, the anger that was exhibited by the crowd was triggered off by the failure of the film to portray what was repeatedly announced over the local radio stations in Gulu.
They were part of the over 10,000 people most of whom were cajoled by radio announcements saying that they will be seeing exactly what transpired during the two decades brutal war.
Many of those who were caught up between the police teargas and enraged youths were forced to exit through a single main gate after the police locked the side entrance. Many people lost their valuables in the ensuing melee. One person was killed and others injured including a policewoman identified as Pamela Inenu. She was rushed to hospital while several children were still unaccounted for.
Four children were taken to police stations and many parents were still moving in the different police outposts to look for their children.
By Saturday morning, many people rushed to the stadium in an attempt to salvage their properties including phones, money and shoes but many of them were disappointed.
One of the ladies who lost her purse whose contents included a phone, shs 300,000 and other valuables was irked by the incident.
“I don’t know if this is the kind of peace they (Invisible Children) think we should enjoy,” she said in front of the stadium without naming herself.
The District Police Commander Denis Odoch said that he could not explain into detail what had occurred apart from the injury sustained by one of his police officer.
“Nothing much, it was a small scuffle which was started inside the stadium which led to injury of a police officer” Odoch said.
Last month, a similar incident also brought to a sudden halt the screening of the Kony 2012 film in Lira town.