Friday, May 8, 2009

The Life After

by Philip Gourevitch

My understanding of the events commonly referred to as the Rwandan genocide that took place fifteen years ago is almost exclusively the result of Philip Gourevitch's articles that began appearing in the New Yorker following the end of those days, and the ushering in of some form of order in that small African nation.

His writing was so vivid and the events he displayed so horrifying, yet at the same time such testaments to mankind's ability to endure, that I also read his book, "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families," a truly amazing piece of history and reporting.

In this article, Gourevitch has returned after an absence of many years, to Rwanda to mark the 15th anniversary of the genocide. While he has the opportunity to interview the president, Paul Kagame, he does not make politics the focus of his piece. He manages, in a small amount of space, to convey a full sense of the political and social challenges being faced in the country, as well as the remarkable success the Rwandan people have created in rebuilding.

He tracks down both victims and genocidaires that he interviewed in his previous visits, and shows that the gacaca courts (the Rwandan version of Truth and Reconciliation) have managed to please almost no one, which is in itself, the proper position for the people to be in.

He also explains the current situation with regards to rebel groups still active in DR Congo, and discusses the challenge of convincing rebels to give up their fight and return to their homeland and reintegrate into society.

It has been a while since there has been an article of such force in the New Yorker.

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