In the quiet of the night on July 1, in For-god Village within Gulu City’s Bardege-Layibi Division, Chief Yusuf Okwonga Adek of the Pageya Clan received some unanticipated guests. The clock read 2 a.m., and Chief Adek’s surprise mingled with a touch of panic. Among these visitors was Ali Ssalongo Kony, the son of the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel leader Joseph Kony.
Accompanying Ali were his mother, Selly, his wife, and their children. They had recently returned to Uganda after being repatriated from South Sudan. This was a remarkable twist, considering that South Sudan, once part of Sudan, had supported the LRA, but now played a role in mediating peace talks between the Ugandan government and the rebels.
In the early 2000s, negotiations had reached a pivotal point. Rwot Adek, who belonged to the peace delegation, had a brief encounter with Kony’s family. Much has transpired since then, including the Ugandan military’s Operation Lightning Thunder, which resulted in the UPDF finding Kony’s personal belongings after bombing the rebel base.
The LRA eventually fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and despite regional efforts, Kony remained elusive. His current whereabouts remained unknown. So, when his ‘wife,’ son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren appeared at Rwot Adek’s doorstep unannounced on July 1, the clan leader couldn’t help but feel a sense of trepidation.
The returning guests explained that they had found their way to Rwot Adek’s home with the help of local volunteers, recalling only his name as a contact from their homeland. Three days after their arrival, Rwot Adek decided to inform the government about their presence, emphasizing his desire not to be seen as harboring ulterior motives. Consequently, State House dispatched an officer to assess the situation of Joseph Kony’s family members.
Rwot Adek briefed the officer about the family’s circumstances and their need for support, as they had no other place to turn. This marked the initial step in how the family of a wanted warlord found themselves within the secure walls of Uganda’s State House.
Following these conversations, diplomatic, political, and military channels were activated. This intricate web of communication eventually led to Kony’s family receiving an invitation to State House one month later, on August 24. Everything was kept confidential until the news surfaced on President Museveni’s social media channels.
President Museveni, when asked about his meeting with Kony’s relatives, stated, “They informed me of their desire for rehabilitation and to support the rest of the family in productive activities such as farming. This is a very welcome idea which we shall support.” He further explained, “We will assist them, the Kony family, in establishing a commercial farm where they can work together as a company and share the profits. All the children and the ‘wives’ should be shareholders. This is a message I’ve been conveying to all Ugandans. Therefore, the Kony family will serve as an example and inspire others to follow suit.”