n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - Accounting for violence in Eastern Congo : young people's narratives of war and peace in North and South Kivu

Volume 14, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


In the last two decades, wars and mass violence have marked much of the life of ordinary people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In its eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, an entire generation has grown up knowing little else than conflict and deprivation. This article intends to give a voice to young Congolese in this troubled region in the heart of Africa. The article is based on the results of a survey that was conducted at the end of 2009 among nearly one thousand students. It examines the way young people in the Kivu make sense of the prevalence of violence in their home-provinces and the solutions they envision for a peaceful future. In its analysis, the article exposes a predominant role of 'the Rwandese' in Congolese narratives of war and peace. Influenced by fresh memories of war, various respondents exhibited Manichean views and deep-seated feelings of resentment towards those who were deemed responsible for the Congo's recent suffering. This article argues that, unless such understandings and sentiments are acknowledged and addressed, the risk of further escalation of conflict will continue to loom on the horizon. Educational and cultural programmes targeting the youth and their views of 'the other' are here proposed as a promising peacebuilding measure that should complement existing efforts to promote stability in the region.

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