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New thesis brings deeper understanding of minority groups identity and conflict dynamics in Great Lake Region

News: Jun 28, 2018

A new thesis sheds light on conflict dynamics in the Great Lakes region, and on how the Rwandophone Congolese minority group themselves construct their identity. The findings contribute to the efforts of bringing about a peaceful solution to the conflicts. They can also be a basis for developing a policy that takes into consideration perspectives from the minority group.

Photo of Furaha Umutoni Alida“These perspectives have been neglected by politicians and armed groups claiming to fight for the Rwandophone Congolese population’s rights”, Furaha Umutoni Alida says. She is the author of the thesis which is an outcome of a cooperation between the University of Rwanda and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The belonging of Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese as citizen of the DRC has been an ongoing question. It became more acute with the re-emergence of the autochthony discourse and the participation of Rwandaphone Congolese armed groups in conflicts during the 1990s and thereafter.

In her thesis, Furaha Umutoni Alida has wanted to understand how Rwandophone Congolese in the North Kivu area themselves construct their identity. Furaha Umutoni Alida’s dissertation has examined how Rwandophone Congolese articulated their identity in four settings, which are: the M23 armed group, the Democratic Republic of Congo through autochthony discourse, the Republic of Rwanda and the lived experiences of exclusion and discrimination against. She found that their construction of identity is multiple and shifting and can hardly be disassociated from the conflicts the DRC has experienced during the last two decades.

“On the one hand the interviewees have had mixed perception of the M23 (Mouvement 23 Mars) armed rebellion group. On the other, this group has been perceived as the only one that could fight for and advocate for Rwandophone population rights,” Furaha Umutoni Alida says.

She also found that Rwandophone Congolese expressed a belonging to the DRC state, exemplified through the fact of being born on the soil, possessing land and holding an identification card as proof of citizenship. At the same time interviewees embraced the very autochthony discourse that has ben used in popular discourse to question their belonging.

Furthermore, interviewees described having some shared commonalities such as language and culture with Rwanda which indicates that Rwandophone Congolese experience a situation of being “in-between”.

More information and contact

Furaha Umutoni Alida, University of Rwanda, e-mail: furahaalida@gmail.com
Thesis title: Being in between? Exploring Identity Construction Among Rwandophone Congolese
More about the thesis at: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/56171

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Originally published on: samfak.gu.se

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