Ex-combatants find their way back to a changed Rwanda
A former 'big man' deserts his Congo-based militia after learning more about the country he left
Kigali, Rwanda – On a cool February afternoon, Jean Damasceau Mwambutsya and a few friends – one in a UN peacekeeping baseball hat – lounged in the grass at Mutobo. They'd returned to Rwanda in November and were in the middle of ingando – reeducation camp. "We're learning how to conduct ourselves once we get out of here," he says. "We're learning how to live with other people and relate to them." He and his friends are less interested in lessons than in finally seeing their families. They left Rwanda in 1994, the year of the genocide, and haven't seen their parents or siblings – sometimes their wives – since.
Usually, ex-combatants leave the ingando and return to the villages they once called home. But many find they're unable to earn a living and head to Kigali, the capital, where work is more plentiful, and more lucrative. When they get there, they spend a night or two, or several weeks, on Faustin "Kunde" Gasugi's couch.
Mr. Gasugi was, in his words, a "big man" in the FDLR, a Hutu militia whose leaders, Rwanda says, helped plan the genocide. He had been in the Rwandan Army's cadet school during the genocide; he crossed Congo on foot, moving all the way to Kinshasa as a fighter in different rebel groups. He returned to eastern Congo and helped found the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in 1998.