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Nostalgia of War

Joseph Rudigi Rukema


Published: 2023/09/01


The aim of the study was to establish the nexus between the lived experience of former child soldiers and the nostalgic nature of such experience. In nature this is a qualitative study using an exploratory approach. Face to face interviews were conducted. Participants included four male former child soldiers and one female, one member of the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) Program, one community leader as well as three members of the community. These individuals provided different perspectives on child soldiers and what might have been their experience. The findings show that some former child soldiers joined an armed group voluntarily due to a variety of reasons, including revenge for their loved ones, harassments and extortion perpetrated by armed groups against community members, whereas others were forced to join armed groups. The findings reveal that while serving in armed groups they had different survival strategies including extortion of the local population and illegal taxation as a way of generating income. The findings show that former soldiers left the armed groups through escape, being captured by regular army, or voluntarily when their groups were disbanded. It was apparent that participants were integrated into the community, however, they had mixed feelings. Some expressed little desire to rejoin an armed group while others felt that socio-economic conditions were not conducive and therefore expressed the desire to rejoin the armed groups. Keywords: Child soldiers, Demobilization, Reintegration, DRC, Armed groups

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