Joseph Kony is the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, an armed rebel group that has terrorized parts of Uganda for more than two decades and which gained extra fame on the Internet in 2012. Joseph Kony was born in the hamlet of Odek in north-central Uganda (according to the BBC). Kony was a Catholic altar boy as a child, but his life took a turn in 1987, when he declared himself to be a prophet and became the leader of the Holy Spirit Movement. That movement turned into the Lord's Resistance Army, which began battling the Ugandan government in a form of civil war. The LRA was soon a peculiar mix of militia, religious movement and brutal cult, with Kony at its head. Declaring himself to be both an agent of God and a spirit medium, Kony commanded his followers to attack villages and towns, pillaging and raping as they went and forcing children to become soldiers in the LRA. A 1996 Los Angeles Times article called Kony "a self-proclaimed prophet with a murderous manner" and said he had 32 wives and that his troops "routinely sliced the lips, ears or arms off their victims." Kony was indicted for mass murder by the International Criminal Court at The Hague in 2005, but he evaded capture and moved the LRA into increasingly remote areas of the Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic. There the LRA continued to commit acts of terror. In 2012 a group called Invisible Children released a video calling for a mass movement to bring Kony to justice; the video went viral online, bringing Kony to worldwide notoriety.
When was Joseph Kony born? The date is not publicly known. Encyclopedia Britannica says he was “born 1961?” and BBC News says “born in the early 1960s.” A 1996 Los Angeles Times story said that in a 1994 video, Kony was “a tall, thin man in his early 30s with huge aviator sunglasses and gaily beaded braids.”