I’m currently reading, We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families by Philip Gourevitch. This is a book about the Rwandan Genocide that took place in 1994. This is not the book report on it, (I’m not a fast reader; I’m only halfway through), but I have to pass on some words from the book that I found awe inspiring.
The book is very intense and the actual report will be long, because the story is complex and there is no one segment of the book that doesn’t need to be told. From the buildup of the genocide, through the actual killing and even at the conclusion of it.
Philip Gourevitch wrote about the genocide only a few years after it took place. I find his style of writing extremely brilliant. He sees and senses life like no one else I have read. At one point in the book, he writes a page which basically describes the African way of life. I tried in my written word Africa on the Written Word page, but he captures the African way of life best. When reading this, be aware, the genocide was the Hutu people of the population killing the Tutsi population at a rate of 800,000 in 100 days, … they killed 8000 Tutsi a day, with machetes.
When I got depressed in Rwanda, which was often, I liked to go driving. On the road, the country resolved itself in rugged glory, and you could imagine, as the scenes rushed past and the car filled with the smells of earth and eucalyptus and charcoal, that the people and their landscape – the people in their landscapes – were as they always been, undisturbed. In the fields people tilled, in the markets they marketed, in the school yards the girls in bright blue dresses and boys in khaki shorts and safari shirts played and squabbled like children anywhere. Across sweeping valleys, and through high mountain passes, the roadside presented the familiar African parade: brightly clad women with babies bound to their backs and enormous loads on their heads; strapping young men in jeans and Chicago Bulls T-shirts ambling along empty handed – save, perhaps for a small radio; elderly gents in suits weaving down red-dirt lanes on ancient bicycles; a girl chasing a chicken, a boy struggling to balance the bloody head of a goat on his shoulders, tiny tots in ragged smocks whacking cows out of your way with long sticks.
You knew, by the statistics, that most of the people you saw were Hutu, but you had no idea who was who; whether that girl, who stared blankly at your oncoming car and at the last minute winked and broke into a wide grin, was a massacre survivor. Or whether she was a killer, or both, or what. If you stopped to buy a cold drink and a brochette of grilled goat, or to ask directions, a small crowd gathered to stare and offer commentary, reminding you of your exoticism. If you drove around in the northwest, and pulled over to admire the volcanoes, peasants came out of their fields to express approval that you had no greater purpose, in that moment, than to regard their place with pleasure. If you traveled southwest through the Nyungwe rain forest preserve and got out to watch the colobus monkeys, people in passing minibuses waved and cheered.
This describes Rwanda, this describes Africa.