From militia to education career: Meet Dunia Katembo Colomba, VIGLOJ Founder.
My name is DUNIA KATEMBO Colomba.I was born in Rutshuru terriortory ,in the
northern province of Kivu,approximately in 74 kilometres away from Goma city. I am
the last born in the family of five children, 4 brothers and one sister.I am from the
I have grown up in the situation that really gave me courage to work for peace and the
promotion of human rights.
I survived the massacre of Rutshuru during the entry of AFDL(Alliance des Forces
Democratiques pour la Liberation du Congo ).This rebellion was both found and led by
former Congolese president Laura Desire Kabila; this was in 1996 and more than 1000
young people from Hutu community were massacred including other young people from
other communities living in Rutshuru. This made members of Hutu community see
Nande people as traitors and accomplices of AFDL soldiers who had killed our Hutu
friends. They took us like this, because we only escaped the massacre. Due to the fact
that they were against Nande tribe, I decided to exile myself in Butembo city , where I
was no longer pursued by anyone.Butembo is city located in the Lubero territory ,in the
eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.This is approximately in 350 Kilometres away
from Goma city.
Arriving in Butembo city in 1999, I immediately started university studies. However,
after a year, the same AFDL army that had killed more than 350 young people living in
this city. I was really disappointed by behaviors of this army and this pushed me to join
the armed group that was called Mai Mai Kasindien in order to take revenge against that
AFDL army. I spent two years in this armed group from 1999 to 2001. Seeing how my
colleagues were dying on the battlefield , I realised that I had to save my life and my
colleagues’,as well. At the beginning of 2002, I convinced myself that it was necessary to
return to my family instead of continuing to risk my life and I am glad because was
I begged and convinced General Mudohu Kukumana Fabien, one of our commanders to
let me go. He released me and I went back to my family after passing through
MONUSCO office the same day to ensure my security.
After returning to normal life,we started the outreach activities mobilizing other youth
in armed forces to return to civil life too. This effort was facilitated by the same
General Mudohu Kukumana Fabien who had facilitated my exit from armed group.
Over 1500 young people were saved and the majority of them are in civil life today
while others have decided to officially join Congolese national army. I decided to stop
fighting to mark the peaceful end of armed conflicts.
In September 2017, I almost lost my life while trying to rescue three Hutu families who
were going to be burned alive crossing the city of Butembo towards the province of
Ituri.;this was in the north eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.There
was also mass massacre in the Beni territory.This is located in 55 kilometres in the
north of Butembo. Butembo population considered Hutu people as pitless who were
killing people every day. This fact pushed me to launch a big campaign of educating
young people from Butembo on the human rights in the context of fighting all forms of
discrimination based on tribal affiliation. From that time onwards , I have worked as an
educator in human rights, peace education , security personal leadership skills. All
these have convinced me there is a real need of revolutionising young
generations’mindsets such that they will no longer use violence as a away of solving
problems. They must be rather young people who are able to bring peaceful solutions
to the problems that are hindering the development of Congolese society.Today I am
happy to see all these young people being successfully reintegrated in their own
communities through running different projects.I am always proud to see minimal Mai
Mai armed groups’threats and this is ushering a new era of peace in my small town of
Butembo that I love.