Last week, Peter Kidega Okello returned to Uganda after escaping from a Lord’s Resistance Army camp in northern Darfur, Sudan. After being abducted as a child, he became an intelligence officer in the rebel group and served at the rank of Sergeant Major. On his return to Gulu, he told his story.
“I was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army on the 1st of January 2003 from Kalongo Town [in Agago district] when I was going to buy meat from the shop. The rebels took me with six other people from the same area. By the time I was abducted, I was in senior one at Kalongo Secondary School.”
Life in the bush
“Life was at first normal and seemed easier in the bush. But it kept changing as the rebels were being driven out of Uganda. The rebels started going further to South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and now they are in Darfur in Sudan.
I learned different languages like Arabic, Lingala and Sangu while in captivity.
Currently life is extremely very hard. I believe that many children and rebels in the bush will continue to escape and come back home. There are still children in the bush and they come from various countries like the DRC, South Sudan, Uganda and CAR.”
“Kony is currently in the Darfur region of Sudan. I worked under him from 2014 until when I escaped. I would often see some Sudanese men who would visit and bring food and weapons to him.
I think Kony just wants to survive and be alive. He has no plans of coming back to take power, although he still says he is guided by the Holy Spirit. The number of armed soldiers with Kony at the moment is around 120. The army is composed of Congolese, South Sudanese, Ugandan and some from Central African Republic.
Kony never allowed people around him to listen to radio messages and read any fliers that were around.”
“On the 9th of October 2016 at 11pm together with other six people, I escaped from the camp of Joseph Kony in the Darfur region of Sudan. The six of us included three Ugandans, two from Central African Republic and a Congolese girl.
We walked the whole night and rested in the morning at 10 am. We didn’t know that Kony’s army was following us. They later attacked us and killed two of us: one Ugandan fellow known as Denis Okot from Pajimo in Kitgum district and another girl from the Central African Republic.”
“I want to work as a soldier and if possible join the UPDF so that I will be able to go back and rescue some of my brothers in the bush. I did not have any child with any woman in the bush, but when I was abducted, I had a pregnant girlfriend.”
According to Captain John Kamanja of the special investigations unit of the UPDF, Mr. Kidega surrendered to the Seleka rebels at a place called Samwanja, in the north of the Central African Republic. He is currently under the custody of the UPDF in Gulu where he will be under rehabilitation for before he is reintegrated into the community.