Rwanda: Former poacher graduates, determined to protect animals he used to hunt


Elysée Mutangana is pleased with her graduation from the University of Rwanda (UR). From poaching to shoemaking, he graduated ‘Water and Environmental Engineering’ after a very hard life path. This former hunter of Nyungwe resolves to protect the animals he threatened before.

On Friday 25 August 2017, Elysée Mutangana and her peers are graduates of the UR, ceremonies were honored by Anastase Murekezi, Rwandan prime minister,  took place at the Amahoro National Stadium in Kigali.

At the age of 32, Mutangana’s option of  ‘Water and Environmental Engineering’ think of doctoral degree in medicine; but the poverty of his family was a handicap.

Bon in 1985, in Gikongoro of southern Rwanda, in a demographic family of eight children, Mutangana was the only one to complete primary school.

In bad life, he was shoemaker / shoe shiner, electrician, driver, painter, mechanic, blacksmith; apart from the poaching, and the street vender.

In his resume, Mutangana began his primary studies in 1992, after which he became a poacher, like his father uncles. In 1998, when the means of access to secondary education were lacking, “I started hunting in the forest of Nyungwe, I stretched the traps to the animals,” he adjusts.

In 2004, he left his native area Uwinkingi near Kitabi, for Kigali, to realize his dream of becoming a driver, but he only became manpower. His hands bear witness to the tearing of iron sheets. Then he became shoemaker and shoe-shiner, the name that marked his whole life. “At school he was called so”.

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Mutangana began high school after a period of 10 years after primary school. In his interview with during the university graduation ceremonies, Mutangana spoke clearly to the press.

Kigali was not his mercy

Arriving in Kigali, he became a “street child”, a difficult situation where he became familiar with “imprisonment “.

He also became a bricklayer, earning seven hundred francs a day. He retired and started the shoemaking in the main station of Nyabugogo.

He narrates his daily calvary, “I used taking sorghum beer at 50 rwfs a bread of 50 rwfs, or a sugar cane piece of 20 rwfs to survive. I unloaded cement trucks, heavy metal plates, and other trucks; needed a strong meal.

Mutangana resumed secondary school

He first became a watchman to a boss called Nyagatare, who financed his first term of high school. Meanwhile, Mutangana have never smoke, did not take drugs or alcohol like other Mayibobo (street children), and was never a thief.

And one day, he gave back  a huge sum of money to his boss, whom he had picked up on the floor. And that’s what his boss thanked him for, and promised to finance his studies.

Nyagatare should pay him the first term, and for others, Mutangana worked during the holidays to pay.

Addition to that, he has never forgotten his hook while going to school. On weekends, he repaired shoes to earn money. In class, he was with children of 11 and 12 years old,  when he was 23 years old, embarrassing.

He will protect animals he hunted before

Mutangana is determined, “Currently I regret to have killed these animals of Nyungwe park, I was ignorant of their utility. I have to continue my studies in Environmental Conservation, I want people to know how useful is environment. ”

He finally gives the messages to street children and thanks those who supported him. “The government should solve the problem of street children, but we are all concerned. If a child is in school, another in the street, the latter will kill the first. ”

“As I graduated by different benefactors’ inputs, myself will support others up to 10 thousand people.”

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Jean Baptiste Karegeya






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