I Am Evelyn Amony is a Memoir that takes us into some of the darkest places in the landscape of humanity and then takes us through the toughest terrain of the human soul to a place of hope and transformation.
Evelyn Amony was only 11 years of age when she was captured by Joseph Kony’s Lord Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda. The majority of the book is a detailed account of the life of an LRA child soldier bit even more than that Amony, known as Betty in the Bush, was one of Kony’s many wives.
It is a harrowing autobiography. The rape and ravages of war are on most every page. It is not light reading for sure. Of course, because of Evelyn’s unique circumstances it takes us into the life, mind and at times the heart of one of the most ruthless and wanted men on the planet. Evelyn’s relationship with Kony is as confused and contradictory as the man himself, which is I guess the great insight.
For me, I have a real interest in Uganda. This summer will be my third in a row in Arua, the very far north west of the country. So, I Am Evelyn Amony was particularly fascinating as I try to get my head around the recent history of Uganda and the LRA’s raison d’être and impact in the north of the country.
I also found this memory very helpful in what Evelyn shares after she was released back into “normal” Ugandan life in 2004. She gives an honest account of the struggles of everyday Ugandan life, the relationships effected by war, the struggles of children’s health and education and making ends meet. Some of the tribal traditions are well expressed. Her relationship with the wider Kony family is another fascinating part of the book.
Even without any interest in Uganda the book has universal resonances. There are a lot of children living through war in our world. I Am Evelyn Amony is a story of resilience. Abducted before she made it to P5, she shows unbelievable maturity and wisdom in both her life in the LRA and her life afterwards.
The real wonder here is how a girl who had to deal with such brutality and inhumanity can not only survive it but come out the other end as an ambassador for woman’s rights and justice issues. Evelyn says of the book, “I wrote this book because I wanted everyone to know war is bad because of the different consequences that it has on the lives of women and children and that it must be stopped… By writing this book I wanted to demonstrate that even if you've gone through painful experiences your life, you shouldn't be defined by those experiences; you can still do a lot to change the lives of others.”
Not for the faint hearted but a wonderful document about a remarkable woman.