Pearsall's Books

This blog is defunct! Check out my new music blog at

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Whither Genocide?

In response to the death of SPLA leader John Garang, Nathanael at The Rhine River has written a wonderfully eloquent post on the Rwandan genocide, that great necropolis of the modern era, and fore-runner for today's horrors in Darfur (although of course the situation in Darfur is nowhere near as horrible). He looks at Veronique Tadjo's L'Ombre D'Imana (In the Shadows of the Creator), an exploration of the difficulties of speaking about genocide in the immediate aftermath, the crushing trauma that hangs over victim and victimizer in the years following. A taste:

The people whom Tadjo gives voice have different problems. They are businessmen who want stability to restart their enterprises. They are tens of thousands of men and women who wait in crowded prisons for justice. They are the daughters of the perpetrators. They are the wives who gave themselves to soldiers to save their children. They are the children who have experienced impromptu, and unhealthy, maturation. They are people who were simply afraid. They are the ghosts of those whose bodies cannot be identified. And of course, they are the Tutsi who pretend that they are now safe among the people who would eliminate them.

An urban legend explores the contradictions inherent in reconciliation without justice. It is a story about a woman who lives with the man who killed her husband. Does he know that she saw him in the act? Does he know that she has AIDS? How can a woman sleep with such a man? Her immediate needs take precedent: she has fallen ill, and it is he who takes care of her.

A pastor returned to Rwanda to face justice. He had been charged with the care of four children as the parents went into hiding. The militiamen found the children and killed them. The militiamen threatened the pastor if he did not participate. He struck a child with a single blow, then ran away. What did he hope to accomplish by returning, telling his story, and facing the tribunal? Is he not, in some sense, a victim as well? He tells the judge, "“Let me disappear." His example raises the question about what can be achieved with justice.

|| RPH || 11:42 PM || |