When the walking defeats you (maybe a review)

book review Aug 5, 2019

The book is about a man who voluntarily joined Joseph Kony’s Lords Resistance Army because he was from the same tribe and his family had ties to the group for some time. He gives his accounts of what it meant/means to be in the LRA as a ‘Holy’, (the name combatants in the group referred to themselves by), from the beatings, raiding villages in Congo, CAR, South Sudan etc.

The LRA were the worst of the worst IMO. They were a potent mix of religious dogma, a charismatic leader, access to weapons, nothing good will ever come out of such.

Several sections in the book really showed me that, Africa has a real leadership crisis. If you check closely, many of the civil wars or armed groups causing all the visible suffering usually have tacit or overt support from one African government or another. In the book, the author highlights how on several instances, Al Bashir and the Sudanese Armed Forces aided Kony and his hoarde, imagine that?

Also, African leaders want to be ‘head of the house’ and really treat entire nations like their households even if it means many lives will be ruined. I picked few instances where the issues between the Gvt and the LRA could have been resolved but both parties would have pissing contests or the Gvt would simply fail to instil confidence in their foe to have 'a sit down'. This would lead the opponet to be jumpy and continue on their merry distructive way. The end result was that, the opponet would regularly refuse to negotiate based on these past experiences and the situation would get more dire.

Based on this, its easy to conclude that African leaders and regional/continental bodies do not help the situation at all. They just issue statements and do nothing extra to help the situation, they can't even contribute to a force of arms to significantly deal with a real regional threat but will gladly unleash their armies on unarmed civilians in their own countries. sigh

Even with foreign help, the authorities always seem to blunder, like how in the book, they explain about the use of helicopter gunships for bombruns (against advice from other parties) instead of...well, actual bombers, when it was obvious these would yield better results and possibly eliminate the target..

The book also captures the plight of women and kids in most conflict zones on the continent. Its dire. its sad. its unbelievable, the sexual abuse, their treatment as objects and possessions.

Also, clearly captured is how some leaders will do anything in their power to eliminate ANY dissent, assumed or proven e.g Kony’s execution of his once trusted lieutenants Ben Achellam and Otim Record is testament to this. Dictators are ruthless. Oh, and cults are dangerous

Lastly, the book name aptly captures the main theme in the book, the incessant walking and how Kony apparently had the energy to walk for an entire day in the jungles without resting… he would walk REALLY FAST, as the main character explains.. Stopping or getting tired was not an option. Your comrades would whip or kill you. If you survived, the jungle would surely have the final say… you were supposed to conquer the walking… with all the conditions.. or else, the walking would defeat you, and you would die..

I give the book an 8/10 because it was gripping and hard to put down.