Genre: modern history
Secondary genre: politics
Format read: audiobook
Content warnings: violence, racism, genocide
Rep: African (various, but mostly Rowandan)
I had a very conservative upbringing that neglected or skewed a lot of world events. Since starting college, I’ve tried to educate myself about world events, but it’s a slow process.
This book covers events in Rowanda from 1993-1997 (the book was published in 1998) surrounding the government sanctioned genocide of civilians and how the US exacerbated the problem through ignoring it, refusing to act, and then finally helping–the perpetrators.
It’s a difficult book for me to summarize without giving everything away. But the short version is that when Belgium colonized Rowanda at the end of the 19th century, they created a division between the Tootsie and Hutu people. For centuries, they had been getting along. But then the white Victorians, with their twisted ideas of racial superiority, stepped in. They decided that the Tootsie, who generally had lighter skin and looked “more European” were superior, genetically, intellectually, and physically, and began taking rights away from the “more African” Hutu peoples. For their own protection, obviously.
Flash forward a hundred years, through oppression and political turmoil, and the new Hutu leader of Rowanda called on all Hutu citizens to murder their Tootsie neighbors.
This book made me absolutely sick to read. Following WWII, we vowed that we would never allow this sort of thing from happening again, but we did. It was barely a blip in the American News Media. While I was very young when this happened, it was not something I recall being spoken of at all. And now, in the Middle East and even our own country, we have allowed this kind of behavior to continue–in the name of money, power, and “freedom.”
This is a powerful book, but one that I know will be hard for many people to read. But if you want to know more about world politics, and to find out more about the darker side of America when it comes to international relations, then this is a very important book.