No visit to Rwanda is complete without learning some of the history behind this beautiful country. Tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi culminated in one of the worlds worst genocides. Knowing what happened during those dark days in 1994 is crucial to understanding Rwanda and why Rwandans today have the most positive of outlooks. This busy and vibrant country is no doubt shaped by those terrible days and the cry, ‘Never again’.
Here are a few books which I feel are must reads to anyone anticipating spending time in this amazing country.
Romeo Dallair’s account is one of frustration and helplessness, shackled by a slow acting and disbelieving United Nations dinosaur. His book is a clear and accurate first hand account of the unfolding of the 1994 genocide and subsequent actions of all parties.
Clearly a man used to taking action, I was in awe of his ability to follow orders when every atom of his being screamed to override orders and take direct action against a clear atrocity. If you only take one book; make it this one. Goose pimples and tears are welling, just remembering his story.
Meeting Fergal Keane in London prior to taking out the Conservative Party Volunteers in 2007 was my first brush with someone who was there, who saw it all happening in complete disbelief. The disbelief continues to this day, how could such a thing happen?
Fergal’s book and his powerful analysis reveals the terrible truth behind the headlines. Keane says the genocide inflicted on the Tutsis was planned well in advance by Hutu leaders making this graphic view of extreme news-gathering a must read. It deserves to become a must read for volunteers.
Philip Gourevitch’s book is a compilation of personal accounts of the 1994 genocide. Why people did what they did teaches us all something about human nature and what we are capable of as a race.
An American investigative journalist, Philip repeatedly visits Rwanda to try an understand just what the hell happened there. The book gets its title from a phrase used in a letter from a Tutsi pastor, to his church president, a Hutu.
An ordinary man made extra ordinary by they way he handled the rising tensions in Rwanda throughout his life, culminating in the 1994 genocide. Now of course made famous by the movie ‘Hotel Rwanda‘.
Paul’s easy to read account is a must have, if you have seen the movie, as it fills in many blanks, not least giving the story of his upbringing and how he became the manager of the Hotel des Mille Collines.
Paul and his family now live in Belgium.
Joseph Sebarenzi’s lost his parents and seven of his siblings during the genocide in 1994.
“God Sleeps in Rwanda” is his story as he returns to Rwanda as an elected speaker of parliament, his involvement in reform and the subsequent attempts on his life that forced him into exile yet again.
Joseph educates the world about Rwanda today with the aim of preventing similar atrocities ever happening again, anywhere.
More to follow when I get time………