I recently came across the following letter, which I had filed away when it was sent me, in 2002. It was a time of rebel attacks and threats. The following letter I received from the FNL, which was one of the main rebel groups at that time.
This is a paraphrase of the Kirundi:
We, the FNL, demand that you make a contribution of Fbu 200.000 (about 200 dollars) to the FNL as soon as possible.
If we do not receive it by Wednesday, we will come right away and you will have to pay more [i.e., probably breaking into the compound and taking stuff].
I called the military commandant for our district, whom I knew and exchanged information with regarding security, to come so that we could discuss the letter.
After examining it, he said that we’d do nothing because – since it was not signed with a proper stamp of the FNL – it was not authentic, and was probably sent by a group of robbers. And, nothing did happen.
Many people did pay contributions to the ‘authentic’ FNL so as not to be robbed. We did, for a time, paying a ‘poll tax’ on our goats. This kind of ‘citizen taxation’ is common where a rebel group controls a certain area, and is a kind of security against incursions. Though, about a year later, the compound was broken into a couple of times (probably robbers) – something for another blog.