Who is EVELYN AMONY?

Reviewing “I am Evelyn Amony: Reclaiming my life from the Lord’s Resistance Army.”

Chances are you have never heard about Uganda’s conflict. If you did, it was most likely by watching KONY 2012, a 30-min viral video spread to raise awareness about the children abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) lead by Joseph Kony, whose name is repeated 45 times in the clip. During 26 years, he abducted thousands of women and children to make them part of his army. Evelyn was one of them. That’s not her story.

Evelyn refuses to be defined by the acts she was a victim of, by decisions forced upon her, and by narratives that we find convenient to enforce a political agenda or promote human rights. Yes, she was one of Kony’s wives, learned how to shoot and defend herself. But when confronted with her past, she won’t answer “yes I’m that person” but a more insightful: “that’s what happened.”

Book Cover © by The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System

I am Evelyn Amony talks about Evelyn’s childhood, family, and expectations for the future. Her life with the LRA — the horrific stories about war — only make sense in the context of her struggle for reintegration.

These are not beautiful images, some of them are simply crude, shocking. War, violence, it seems, are common occurrence; the most horrible acts are normalized: Phrases like “A bomb exploded”, “we could see the flesh spread on the three,” and “they shot at me” are spitted without further reflection; as if each one of these actions did not deserve a three-page narrative on the profound emotional and historical complexities that surrounded them.

“That was the point I started calling the gun Margaret, my mum’s name, because I felt my gun was like my mum. The only thing is that the gun doesn’t tell you stories.”

Maybe that’s why.

Evelyn is a very sweet and strong woman who dealt with Kony even when everyone else was terrified, she was beaten and mistreated by multiple people during her entire life and yet managed to comfort others who suffered at her side. Evelyn raised her children during war and found a profession afterwards. We learn the most about her aspirations when on March 8, 2010 — the day she learned Women have a Day — , she tells us about what it is to be an Acioli woman and the dignity she finds in carrying simple tasks: to clean, to cook a traditional dish, to understand women have rights and a future, even those who carried a gun.

After a Facebook search, I realize Evelyn Amony is tagged in several pictures. She smiles. She is my sister’s age.