A 24-year-old South Sudanese man turns heads wherever he goes in Uganda because he is a namesake to notorious leader of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Joseph Kony.
The third year journalism student of St Lawrence University is actually called Joseph Kon, a name given to him by his Dinka parents, but many Ugandans, particularly Bantus, add the letter Y to the KON making it sound as Kony.
So wherever he goes and introduces himself most people call him Joseph Kony and this has both negatives and positives.
Kon, originally from Jonglei State in South Sudan, says he was given the name Kon after three siblings he followed died at or after birth.
Cue in: The word Kon …
Cue out: … who have gone.
The parents also gave Joseph as his first name and it was purely a coincidence as 24 years ago a certain Joseph Kony from Gulu was actually beginning his rebellion against the Museveni government, eventually turning out to be a feared and notorious rebel leader.
Since he was born when South Sudan was at war, Joseph Kon and his parents fled to Adjumani District in northern Uganda where they lived as refugees. He has had all his education in Uganda.
Joseph Kon, a towering young man and definitely not a look-alike of Joseph Kony, the notorious rebel leader, says whenever he introduces himself at roadblocks or public offices he is given a second look and more scrutiny.
He says although in most cases he ends up well, there are a few cases when he is subjected to more checks to ascertain his identity.
A case in point is when he was help up at the Kaya border crossing in Koboko after the immigration officials detected that his A-level certificate of completion had a Y in the Kon:
Cue in: He put my papers …
Cue out: … that you go.
Kon says although he was delayed, he was not charged any entry fees, suggesting that the notorious name has some silver lining.
It is no wonder then that somehow the name has given him some cult status, like on the St Lawrence University campus where he successfully campaigned as a guild vice president.
Cue in: Now as I am …
Cue out: … vice guild president here.
Asked whether he is considering a name change so he shrugs off the Joseph Kony tag, he says that isn’t on his mind. Instead he says he wants to do good things so that people appreciate that not all who are called Kony are bad people:
Cue in: No I can’t do …
Cue out: … kind of names.
Joseph Kon says he wishes that the Joseph Kony now on the run in Central Africa could meet him so he tells him about doing good things for humanity.
joseph kony namesake