A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa
try to take the initiative to talk to them and dispel their fear. That girl there, I spoke to her, and she could see I was not in any way aggressive. She admitted that before, they were afraid I would hit them. I tell them that all that has finished along with the war, and that I can’t hit someone for no reason. She and I carried on talking and became friends. There are still some who are afraid of me, but all the same I can see that there is a bit of an improvement.
On the other hand, I still suffer discrimination. That’s due to jealousy: they think I’m rich and that I received a lot of things when I was demobilised. Others say that I could even kill them. They even say that I have AIDS, although it’s not true because I did the test and it showed that I was negative. Actually I did get ill, because someone put a spell on me – it was my mother’s husband – and I nearly died. People started saying that I was confirmed positive and that I would be carried off by AIDS. There are even some who resent me because they think I was one of those who stole their cows and other possessions during the war.
When we came back from the war, the administrators took it upon themselves to explain to people that even if we had been in the war, we were not dangerous because we had been to re-education sessions, but people were still sceptical. For example, when a young man wanted to get engaged to me, the others tried to dissuade him and told him that once we were married I would beat him up and kill him. They advised him to find another girl who hadn’t been in the armed movements.
I think all that adds up to social exclusion, because all of us are human beings. The rebellion is over. I don’t even remember it. Now, I am reintegrated into society and I lead my life like any other citizen. We should not discriminate against people on the basis of their membership of the rebellion or otherwise, because we are all the same. When I think about the violence and discrimination I suffered, it really upsets me. I try to calm myself down and I hope that with time they will realise that they are making a mistake.
I would like there to be a bit more justice. I wish that people would stop excluding me for having been in the fighting movements. That they should know that we had sufficient reorientation teaching to enable us to be accepted in society. Now, we are like the others. They should not treat us like that: instead, we should all help each other and create a climate of understanding.
Spes was born in 1981 in Kayanza Province, Muruta Commune. The war broke out when she was 12 years old and she had to flee with her mother and go and live in