- Series: Women in Africa and the Diaspora
- Paperback: 284 pages
- Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (October 5, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0299204944
- ISBN-13: 978-0299204945
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Surviving the Slaughter: The Ordeal of a Rwandan Refugee in Zaire (Women in Africa and the Diaspora) Paperback – October 5, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
"I have been through Hell, have known horror, and now that I have escaped... I give testimony to what I have seen." So begins Umutesi's personal account of the bloody ethnic confrontations between Tutsi and Hutu in Rwanda and neighboring Zaire, culminating in the 1994 slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutus. A Hutu often "taken for a Tutsi," sociologist Umutesi fled to Zaire in 1994 and spent two years in the refugee camps, witnessing the destruction of the camps and the subsequent ethnic massacres of Hutu refugees by Rwandan soldiers and Zairian rebels. Her tone encompasses both a sociologist's objectivity and a sufferer's anguish, describing malnutrition and famine, cholera and dysentery, panic and brutality. There were two genocides, this book argues, with barbaric acts committed by and against Hutus and permitted by an international community that "seemed more interested in gross acts of war than in the plight of the people being killed every day, of those who were hiding in the ceilings, woods, ditches, and swamps." Acts of kindness and heroism occur, but this is painful, bitter reading. Umutesi is unable to answer the question with which she began—"What led us to this extremity?"—but her compelling account of that extremity is a valuable historical document.
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"Testimony so powerful and moving that it reaches an unintended literary greatness."Jan Vansina, "African Studies Review"
"Umutesi helps us better understand the fear that has fueled a history of violence between both Tutsi and Hutu Rwanda . . . and the utter failure of the international organizations, governments, and media to tell the truth."Aili Mari Tripp, series editor
“Passages of Umutesi’s book rank with some of the most effective antiwar literature of the twentieth century.”—Nicolas van de Walle, "Foreign Affairs"
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Top customer reviews
However, just in the first 40 pages (I have not completed reading the book), she gave me an insight into the complexities of inter-group conflicts leading up to the infamous "100 days" that had escaped me before. She was able to do so because of her travels and relationships within Rwanda and abroad that cut across ethnic (Hutu/Tutsi) and REGIONAL lines, as well as socio-economic lines. She ulls no punches but is remarkably even handed in her descriptions of both Hutu and Tutsi friends and colleagues.
The "miracle economy" and "new society" of Rwanda is a fraud, but if the current despotic regime is to be replaced in a peaceful way and former enemies are to find ways to rebuild on a foundation that is not the lie our mass media have been repeating, they must draw upon experiences and insights of people such as Marie Beatrice Umutesi.
We have heard a lot about the tragedy of the Tutsi genocide in 1994. What we haven't heard, partly because the press has been manipulated by the current Tutsi regime in Rwanda and partly because the U. S. continues to count on Kagame to keep our access open to the minerals in Congo - particularly coltan, which is used in cell phones and computers - is that as many Hutu as Tutsi have been killed both before and after 1994. Books like "We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families" by Philip Gourevitch were highly misleading and only served to reinforce the mistaken view that all Hutu were genocidal and all Tutsi innocent victims, and as a result the world has let at least 750,000 innocent Hutu be slaughtered while their killers enjoy impunity. And that is not even counting the 3,000,000 Congolese who have died.
The first chapters of the book give an overview of the history Rwanda and life in the camps, and the rest of it deals with Umutesi's trek across Zaire. It is even handed, understated, immensely powerful and very timely. It was published in French, Spanish, Catalan and Dutch before being translated into English.
You have to read this narrative to get a glympse of how absolutely powerful and mesmerizing it is.
I have read many books dealing with the Rwanda genocide; this one hit me hardest!
I offer deep thanks and a hearty congratulations to Marie Beatrice Umutesi and all involved in creating this biting/rivitting/human book.