While many ex-combatants in the DRC continue to be re-recruited into militia groups, one group that has reintegrated successfully is the Toleka—a several-thousand-strong group of ex-combatants who returned (or remained) in the provincial capital of Mbandaka (Equateur province). The Toleka formed a bicycle-taxi organization and unionized its membership, providing protections and collective-bargaining authority to the group, while providing a public good. It also helped to reshape identities, produce a sense of civilian solidarity and provide a bridging function from life in the military.

This article looks at how this organization was formed, how the former fighters identified and capitalized on a local need and the conditions that allowed them to successfully unionize and protect their rights as they re-entered civilian life.