|Dian Fossey with her beloved Mountain Gorillas|
So what are the differences between the fact and my fictional tribes and country? It's mostly superficial in that 'noble warrior' pastoralists, the Nilotic Tutsi (Watusi to older readers - yes, the ones the dance was named for), become the Matu, the underdog reactionaries bent on revenge for old grudges dating back to colonial times when the hated 'elite' Bantu farmers, the Hutu, become the Lutse. The reversed dynamic is of course the same, with Hutu/Lutse rewarded with a higher place in the imperial hierarchy - of which I'm not specific in having it be Belgian, merely Francophone. So, simple role reversal that still 'works' within the story because, as Verity and David both know, there was very little difference between the blurred racial origins in these modern times.
Ironically the key to the rehabilitation of the 'ordinary' mass-murderers reflects what happened in real life Rwanda and actually started much sooner than in The Acts of Apostles chapter, which sees Matu David released to the township where most of his war crimes were perpetrated, only to meet with passive-aggressive local justice from the community leaders such as Verity Beleshona.
The reason for the release of so many prisoners like David, leaving only the ring-leaders, generals and psychopaths to be permanently incarcerated or executed, was down to logistics - there were too many of them and too little left of the non-combatant society to carry on with even the simplest tasks of daily life. Of those survivors at liberty, too many bore terrible scars, with physical maiming from loss of limbs, or appendages, or from psychological wounds, or the Russian roulette of sexual diseases or genital trauma. Crops rotted and babies died unborn, or never conceived, because women were left barren as a result of rape and torture, and so the consequences of genocide went on long after it had finished and may never go completely while the generations that survived it live on.
I set Mgakera, the community, in Zyanda because of that, just over the border from Tanzania and fictional Umbeke. Mgakera is not wholly unique because there are projects in central Africa that offer a similar kind of rehabilitation, usually to women, to help them recover as far as they can and to give them new skills so that they can hopefully live independently, or at least live out their shortened years in safety and with some dignity.
The Mgakera Enclave itself, spanning a natural riverine territory between Zyanda and Tanzania, is not something I researched as such - it just seemed to present itself as something that might happen in an ideal world through the remit of organisations like UNESCO, ACTED (the unanticipated federation of aid agencies model for my fictitious CAMEO) and the Red Cross or Crescent. The self-sustaining commercial aspect was then almost inevitable, with a combination of coffee farming and dairy industry, with a lien on introducing lucrative eco-tourism around the African lakes, made it all take on a life of its own.
Whether you prefer Zyanda's route to the Rwandan one, perhaps this quote, from Dian Fossey herself, best sums up the philosophy of how a nation can possibly recover from the ultimate descent into barbarism.