I am from Uganda and have worked as a television broadcaster for three years. I have been working as an independent video documentary filmmaker for 8 years. I started working with people affected by the Lord's Resistance Army in 2003 on a video documentary for World Vision Uganda called "Children of War". Since then I have dedicated myself to documenting the lives of Ugandan former girl soldiers with the LRA in an attempt to bring more awareness, healing and hope. Since Invisible Children and Kony have gotten so much attention lately, I thought that other people may want to hear another perspective.

Update: Here is verification https://twitter.com/#!/Zubie3/status/178188195287150592

Second Update: Here is a link to the video Wives of War (in the making) http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1179527985/wives-of-war-ugandas-former-girl-soldiers-of-the-l?ref=live

Third Update: I am going to step away from the computer to do some stuff but will return in a while. Would love to hear more of your thoughts/questions. Please keep the conversation going.

Fourth Update: Thanks everyone for your questions and comments. For those interested in watching Wives of War after it's done, please follow me on Twitter: @zubie3

Fifth Update: After a little over a year since I did this AMA, I would like to share the website with my film about the girls and women who were kidnapped by the LRA. The name of the film is called Bookec. Link: http://www.bookecthefilm.com/

Comments: 657 • Responses: 36  • Date: 

panthers_freak318 karma

Please sort the situation out for everyone. Is Kony still the huge problem the video makes him out to be? What kind of power does he still have? How many children are still being abducted?

zubie674 karma

This is a statement from the Uganda government: Govt statement on Invisible Children's 'Kony 2012' video:

Friday 9th March201218:00 hour No Embargo RESPONSE TO INTERNATIONAL DISCOURSE OF LRA ACTIVITY Uganda welcomes all campaigns which seek to raise awareness and highlight the plight of people affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). We are grateful for renewed efforts which seek to contribute to the arrest of Joseph Kony and the elimination of the LRA from the Central African Region. The Government of Uganda however, would strongly urge that any awareness campaign fully takes into consideration the current realities of the situation. The Lord’s Resistance Army has been a concern of this government since the late 80’s and have exacted a great toll on the Ugandan people and independent estimates approximate that 30,000 children were abducted and used as child soldiers over the course of the 25 year conflict. Misinterpretations of media content may lead some people to believe that the LRA is currently active in Uganda. It must be clarified that at present the LRA is not active in any part of Uganda. Successfully expelled by the Ugandan Peoples Defence Forces in mid-2006, the LRA has retreated to dense terrain within bordering countries in the Central African area. They are a diminished and weakened group with numbers not exceeding 300. The threat posed by the LRA in our neighboring countries is considerably reduced and we are hopeful that it will be altogether eliminated with the help of US logistical support. The people of Uganda, especially those in the north of the country are on a path of rebuilding, reconciliation and reintegration and are now vibrant and prospering communities. To aid this prosperity the Government implemented a 10 Year Peace, Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda (PRDP). The Ugandan Government is encouraged by this outpouring of international support for its continuing campaign to eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to all countries and communities. We are hopeful that our neighboring countries can also become free of LRA activity and enjoy the peace and prosperity that northern Uganda has experienced in the last 6 years. For God and My Country

Fred Opolot Executive Director

zubie499 karma

I was in Uganda two weeks ago and there were no new cases of children or adults who have been abducted in over a year.

ajulie4156 karma

I watched IC's video for Kony 2012, and it was clear to me that they were no longer in Uganda. I'm just wondering, no new cases in Uganda or in the entire Central African Region?

zubie229 karma

No new cases in Uganda. However in Congo, there have been recent attacks. Here is an article by the Daily Monitor, Uganda's independent newspaper about the attack http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/-/688334/1362350/-/axe1dtz/-/

dvogel42 karma

Everyone seems to agree that Kony should be arrested. The Kony2012 narrator claims that the Ugandan army must track and capture him. However, the Ugandan government asserts here that while they seek his arrest, he is not inside their borders. Who has the legal jurisdiction to arrest him?

zubie131 karma

The porousness of Uganda's borders makes it tricky to track Kony. There is need for cooperation from all the countries bordering Uganda including Congo and South Sudan. The three countries have the jurisdiction to arrest him, especially after the ICC's warrant.

Sprozz17 karma

If its true that they now number ~300, what happened to all of the members and child soldiers?

zubie51 karma

Not sure of the current number of LRA, but some people/children escaped from the LRA or were returned by believe it or not, the LRA, because there was a time they had a food shortage and released some of their children including the Aboke girls.

bodaciousbilly107 karma

What is your opinion of Invisible Children as a charity? Is it reputable? Worth it to donate to them?

zubie384 karma

I think whenever they started out, there was a genuine cause that sought to bring awareness to a severe situation. And they did. But over the years, I feel like they have morphed into an almost corporation complete with American branding and all which is watering down the cause. Whether or not it is worthy to donate to is up to an individual's thoughts on what they think about the organization.

mobileagent68 karma

Is there any truth to the perception that donating to "KONY 2012" is essentially just funding a different army who really aren't any better?

zubie212 karma

I believe that the need is in empowering the people who are now struggling to get their lives back to normal. Funding government armies is not going to help feed families that are faced with land struggles and currently even drought.

Avalon14334 karma

So how as someone who has little understanding of Ugandan issues (or African for that matter) should we respond to the campaigns? Support them and encourage people to donate or ask them to send their donations/support to other organizations that are more focused on

empowering the people who are now struggling to get their lives back to normal.

How can we do that?

EDIT: Spelling

zubie97 karma

I would suggest looking critically at any campaign one is about to get involved in. I personally do not believe in how big a project is, but rather how effective it is. Take an example of some of the "income generating activities" that have been initiated by some non profits promising to help impoverished people. Majority only meet a fraction of what they promised to do and yet better initiatives such as investing heavily in education would go a long way in changing the course of these people.

[deleted]57 karma


zubie158 karma

I do not believe that foreign military presence is the way to go because of the intricate cultural peace and reconciliation process that the Acholi people still uphold.

Sloppy_Twat56 karma

Do you think Dog the Bounty Hunter could capture Kony?

zubie35 karma

Note sure.

WideEyedElle44 karma

Since you're a documentarian, thought you might know: What's up with all the white Americans making films like Kony2012 and War Dance? I know there have been a lot of documentaries made about the LRA's child soldiers, but are there any films (other than yours) made by Ugandans themselves?

zubie114 karma

Unfortunately most of the films a know that have been made by Ugandans are affiliated to non profits who only make their work available to their donors. Here is list of other films I have looked at but alas not made by Ugandans

War Dance (2008) directed by Sean Fine
Invisible Children (2005) directed by Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey and Laren Poole
Soldier Child (1998) directed by Neil Abramson
Girl Soldier (2009) directed by Will Raee
Lord's Army from Hell (1998) produced by ABC Australia
Kassim the Dream (2008) directed by Kief Davidson

Now a quick look at this list reveals one thing. None of these films is produced or directed by a Ugandan. The concept of speaking for others is very clear in these films even if some of the motives behind their productions maybe well meaning.

Thisisyoureading4 karma

If someone from outside is going to make a Ugandan film should it be in conjunction and consultation with Ugandans at all stages? Would you like to talk to these directors?

zubie3 karma

It is helpful to consult with the relevant locals and in this case, Ugandans. It opens the 'visitor's mind up. It may not have to be necessarily in conjunction with but an organically native insight on the people one is trying to make a film about sure does come in handy.

[deleted]43 karma


zubie99 karma

There is a significant presence of Invisible Children in Uganda. A recent example of how big they have grown in Gulu was while I was there on my recent trip to film former girl soldiers with the LRA, a huge four wheel truck with the words "Invisible Children" written on the driver's seat sped past our car. And it got me thinking that they have grown to the size of acquiring more resources to further their outreach. There is no denying that now, they are right up there with World Vision Uganda, which used to be considered the biggest player in helping children affected by war.

mdguy42980 karma

I work for World Vision US, and I can tell you, we still do a lot in Uganda, and much more of the money goes directly to our programs than IC (not to belittle the efforts of IC...)

bjd338926 karma

Do you think that spending as much money on awareness campaigns as IC is doing is worthwhile or a waste of resources when compared to direct aid?

EDIT: I would be interested in the opinions of either mdguy429 or zubie if possible!

zubie49 karma

The Northern Uganda region has been a recipient of direct aid for a long time, mainly through food resources as people used to live in Internally Displaced People's Camps (IDPs). Though this was a life saving initiative when the war was raging, people are now living in relative peace and we need to rethink the approaches we use to help.

LizzyBordenFuckYeah41 karma


zubie98 karma

The name Invisible Children is catchy. But these are human lives we are talking about even though I understand the allusion that they were called that because they came to sleep on Gulu streets at night, then left in the morning and few people believed the fact that there were children sleeping on the streets. But the families of these children feel differently. I personally do not like it because it fuels the situation that these children can't be counted. Yes I did feel uncomfortable that there was no mention of other work done by other individuals or even organizations. But I guess if this was a self promotion piece for IC, they didn't have the need to. I find the scene with the little boy cute and sad at the same time. I understand that children need to know the difference between good and evil at an early stage, but this particular topic is very sensitive, even raw to most Ugandans who have lost loved ones and are dealing with the healing process.

ThraseaPaetus34 karma

What would you think foreigners should do to help Uganda?

zubie97 karma

Foreigners should start by self educating themselves on the situation. There are so many cases and pseudo non profits that disguise themselves as charity organizations seeking to help. If foreigners what to make a difference, connect with the real individuals in need and see how they can get involved.

ThraseaPaetus19 karma

Any specific charities to avoid?

What do you think about donating food and clothes? I've read an article where a person in an impoverished African country said that it was counter-productive, because it does not allow local producers of food and clothes to profit, due to the competition with free stuff, and therefore the economy would not grow.

zubie36 karma

I suggest doing a bit of research on charities one is interested in giving to. Unfortunately there are no names that come to mind that one should avoid, however if they are interested in helping lives they should reach out to organizations that have a one on one approach with the people they are helping and make sure their help is qualitative rather than quantitative

myminisnameistwiggy23 karma


zubie27 karma

Glad you visited Uganda. The country is now politically becoming charged with the awareness of democracy and what it brings to the people. There are several political parties trying to bring awareness to what a healthy democratic system should look like. Unfortunately, these efforts have met countless resistance from the ruling administration. That said. Kampala is one of the vibrant cities I know and if the population explosion in the city is anything to go by, that should tell you how secure or otherwise it is. As any growing city is, crime and slums are not unheard of, but majority of foreign expatriates who work in Uganda, live in Kampala.

jaggazz22 karma

Even if Kony is captured, wouldn't someone else within the LRA simply take over in the power vacuum?

zubie47 karma

Kony's next in command Otti, was killed a while ago. It's hard to say how the situation will play out after. What's important to note is that majority of the people who have been/are LRA have families in Gulu and they would rather welcome them home than turn them in to ICC.

Savage_Logos22 karma

Are there any issues in Uganda or Africa in general that you believe should be brought to the attention of the international community?

In addition, would you consider these issues more important at the moment than dealing with the LRA?

Thank you for your efforts! :)

zubie58 karma

Yes. I think there is an acute issue of highlighting the role of women in the Kony saga because it has not been fully addressed by the international community. There is a need for a more targeted outreach to girls and women who have been involved in the LRA and are trying to live a normal life. The emphasis now (as you saw in the Kony2012 video) appears to be on boys alone. The international community needs to pay attention to groups and individuals that are focused on helping girls in Gulu because they do a lot in the economic development of the region and country as a whole. I believe that helping the women in Gulu become more empowered, through providing education opportunities and other sustainable approaches is more important, even life saving than running after the LRA.

Number6000013 karma

Is the 4 Points still in Entebbe? Best curry ever! Try the Kashmiri Nan if you havn't yet. Lived in Entebbe in 2008 and 2009, worked in several seismic camps in the north, Buttiaba, Panyigoro, very very very beautiful places. Saw the burnt out palace of Idi Amin in Murchison Falls park. As for this LRA and Kony issue, from the soldiers I know in the UPDF, if Kony and his gang has the nerve to cross back in to Uganda, he's as good as dead!

zubie17 karma

It's refreshing to hear from someone who has been to my home country and you are right it's beautiful in most places.

glitcher2113 karma

Are you the filmmaker listed on the site for the film you mentioned?

What is it that you think we should know?

zubie29 karma

There is another version of Children of War, which is owned by World Vision Uganda. I think the one you are referring to is a different one. I think that the world needs to know that there are several unheard voices who have been affected by the LRA. Most if not majority have been women/girls. Their stories have not been to light because there is a bias that the Ugandan girls were not actively trained to kill by the LRA. This distorts the facts and hides the faces of the people who actually need help. And attention.

glitcher215 karma

Two more questions. Could you post a photo of yourself with a copy of the film, or maybe send us a link to an official tweet or something, I'm not accusing you of being fake, you actually seem more genuine than most, but fake AMAs have been rampant.

Also, what can we do to help the Ugandan people?

zubie33 karma

No problem: Here is a link to my picture: https://twitter.com/#!/Zubie3/status/178188195287150592 If you want to look at the preview of the film, here is a link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1179527985/wives-of-war-ugandas-former-girl-soldiers-of-the-l?ref=live

tyremion11 karma

How does a day for a Ugandan citizen go over that of a citizen in the first world countries?

zubie51 karma

It is very different. Mostly because it depends on where you live in Uganda. Esther one of the former girl soldiers in Wives of War, the film I am making shared that she starts her's by sweeping the one room she shares with four other children she is taking care of, including her son who was fathered by a Commander in the LRA, then splitting a piece of stale local millet bread for breakfast with her children and goes to dig in her garden where she grows ginger to sell to a coca cola factory. While my day in Kampala would start with a warm shower a real breakfast and a short drive to work. But just because our lives are different, it doesn't mean we can not care for each other.

[deleted]9 karma

We've heard a lot of anti-Kony rhetoric on Reddit recently - do you know anyone on the ground who can help provide the pro-Kony side of things and give us a more rounded picture?

zubie29 karma

The girls I have talked to for my film "Wives of War" have all been in one way or another in Kony's presence. Some have described him as a generous person if you do what he wants. Most have children from his top commanders and though these unions were forced in the beginning, they grew to love the men who were now the fathers of their children. It's a bizarre situation. But real.

jmarFTL7 karma

That sounds like an amazing story. How did they escape? Or were they let go? What has it been like readjusting to society after that?

zubie6 karma

These particular girls escaped. One, Beatrice actually told me that a few months after she returned to her home, some of the LRA members came looking for her with her picture, then she had to lie that her husband had died of HIV/AIDS, so they left her alone. Life back has been challenging for most if not all of these girls. The hardest part is acceptance from the communities they were born into. They are still being heavily stigmatized even by their own families.

amsid8 karma

What do you think will happen after April 20th (the night when IC is planning to poster everything)? And more importantly, being from Uganda what would you like to see happen?

zubie27 karma

I can not predict what will happen after April 20th. I just know that I wish for a future where the people of Gulu get to enjoy their region and country. The Acholi people are some of the most amazing and strong people I know. I would like to see zero stigmatization of people, especially women and girls who were forced to do atrocious things against their will and overall, an acceptance by society of everyone who has been affected by the LRA war.

calebc947 karma


zubie9 karma

I suggest a few great reads that have some background information on the LRA in Uganda. 1. McDonnell, Faith J. H. and Akallo, Grace. (2007). Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children. Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books. 2. Anderson, Rory E. Sewankambo, Fortunate and Vandergrift, Kathy. (2004) Pawns of Politics: Children conflict and peace in northern Uganda. September 27. Retrieved November 2, 2009 from World Vision official website: http://www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/learn/globalissues-uganda-report 3. Farmer, Sam (2006). I will use the Ten Commandments to liberate Uganda. The Times, UK. June 28. Retrieved from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article680339.ece

HellHaven7 karma

What are your thoughts on supporting and funding the UPDF? Seeing as there has been international concern over their use of child soldiers.

zubie27 karma

I do not believe in supporting one army to take out another. The people of Gulu have endured over 20 years of bloodshed and they are tired. They just want to till their land, raise their families and simply live their lives. They need our support.

WhiskeyBiscuit6 karma

What's the most dangerous situation you have been in?
Also were you ever in fear for your life?
Lastly what got you into film making?

zubie17 karma

Whenever we first started filming Children of War with World Vision Uganda, in 2003 in Gulu, I was scared because those were the years when the LRA war was raging. We had to have a UPDF military entourage to follow up into the villages where some of the children where kidnapped. I started working in television in 2002 and after seeing the visual effect it had on viewers, I decided I want to use the medium to tell human stories.

CrystalCanDoThat5 karma

In your opinion, what's the best thing we can do stateside to support relief efforts over there?

zubie17 karma

Follow through to see where the help is going. Sign up for tours of the place. Get a real connection of the lives these relief efforts are trying to change. But mostly pay attention to the small voices, they may have powerful stories that will ring stronger than the big voices being churned out by big organizations.

CharlesTheHammer5 karma

What ethnicity is in government right now in Uganda and how much ethnic tension does this cause?

How separately are the largest ethnic groups living their lives and do you think Uganda should have a multicultural policy (forceful mixing and cohabitation of ethnic groups)?

zubie11 karma

Most people in the Ugandan government are Banyakole and so is the president. But there are other ethnicities in parliament. There is a definite divide between the Acholi in Gulu and the rest of the country. Most of the resources are concentrated in the Central and western part of Uganda and this has not helped the situation.

nonnonsequitur4 karma

Do you think international aid to Africa has in fact aided or has it been detrimental?

zubie31 karma

International aid is a two-edged sword. When the war was at it's pick between 2002 and 2004 World Food Program used to donate food to people in the Internally Displaced Camps. This was a welcome initiative because people had been forced from their homes, where they used to grow their own food, into living in camps. But now the effect remains. There are areas where some locals have come to depend on aid. We need to change that, encourage people to work hard and send the school going ones to get an education and become empowered.

cerowanF3 karma

Maybe this is a little offtopic. But have you met the machine gun preacher in person?

zubie6 karma

No but I have seen the trailer.

Thisnameisnotyours3 karma

I read some of this, all of which very informational! Im just curious, in the video they said they sent troops to uganda to help find him, but since he is in congo does that mean they will still help? I don't want sound like an asshole but my mind kinda doubted it. I feel like since the government didn't take it seriously until the people spoke up, then maybe they're just telling us things we want to here. And by the statement you shared from the Uganda government, its not as bad as it used to be. The video really makes it out to be something that is occurring right now, which the worst seems like its mostly in the past. Preety sure all the people who are into this kony2012 aren't even aware of whats really going on.

zubie3 karma

I can not say if they need help. There is no war in Northern Uganda at the moment.

jah-makin-me-happy3 karma

Do you feel that the procedure that the Invisible Children movement wants to take via their 'Kony2012' mission video that's gone viral (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc) is the proper/ethical/correct/effective etc way to go about things? Especially for a mutually beneficial (United States and Uganda/Africa) resolution?

zubie9 karma

I am all for getting behind individuals who are trying to make real change, the kind of lasting change that helps change the mindsets of Acholi local leaders who still think that girls who have been kidnapped by the LRA and are back into their families are second class citizens. The scale of approaches such as that used by IC only succeeds in glamorizing a bigger picture yet real issues remain. And these are the issues that live with these people.