Day 11 – Favourite Non-Fiction Book
For someone who doesn’t really read non fiction this one wasn’t too hard for me. I’m really not too keen on reading non fiction because fiction is so much less terrifying than real life (as you are about to see). I do like reading informative books but books about real people make me rather depressed. I’ll stick to my fantasy works, thanks.
So my favourite non fiction novel is We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch.
Already it sounds depressing and that us because it is. This was a very disturbing and difficult book to read but I’m glad that I read it. It is not a nice book, it does not have a happy ending and it is certainly not inviting you to read it. But I recommend if you gave the heart to read it then you do. Sometimes it is necessary to have our eyes so brutally opened to the world.
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families is written by Philip Gourevitch who sets out the investigate what happened in Rwanda in 1994 and give a gruesome account of horror that overran the country, and delve in to understand what it is like to live in the aftermath of such violence.
For those of you that weren’t aware of what happened in 1994 (because I didn’t before I read this book), allow me to give a crash history lesson. This happened less than 30 years ago, in a time when surely such dark times were behind us? When we could condemn those involved in the Holocaust and the Cambodian Genocide but somehow struggled to put a stop to such heinous acts of violence? In the April of 1994, the Rwandan Government called upon the Hutu majority to kill everyone in the Tutsi minority resulting in the deaths of over 800,000 people over the course of three months. They were slaughtered in the most horrendous manners, holed up in hospitals and churches. The Rwandan Genocide became one if the most unambiguous genocides since Hitler waged war against the Jews.
Gourevitch explores this in a way that has never been done before and humanise the actions that seem so inhuman. It is a story about war and politics but ultimately it is about those forced to live through the horror of genocide and those who died.
But did it have to be that those who were most damaged by the genocide remained the most neglected in the aftermath? Bonaventure Nyibizi was especially worried about young survivors becoming extremists themselves. “Let’s say we have a hundred thousand young people who lost their families and have no hope, no future. In a country like this if you tell them, ‘Go and kill your neighbor because he killed your father and your seven brothers and sister,’ they’ll take the machete and do it. Why? Because they’re not looking at the future with optimism. If you say the country must move toward reconciliation, but at the same time it forgets these people, what happens? When they are walking on the street we don’t realize their problems, but perhaps they have seen their mothers being raped, or their sisters being raped. It will require a lot to make sure that these people can come back to society and look at the future and say, ‘Yes, let us try.'”
That effort wasn’t being made. The government had no program for survivors.
He takes the time to speak with anyone who will speak with him: survivors of the genocide, military officials, humanitarian aid workers and politicians. He even approaches accused and confessed murderers. Gourevitch tried and I feel somewhat succeeded in trying to make sense of how such a large-scale slaughter could take place in a civilised world.
He largely condemns the UN and Western nations but by the end of the book even the reader feels the reader knows, that they deserve every ounce of condemnation given because what does it say about a governing body who would allow such a thing to occur and not do anything to intervene? And I rather believe that they had a very large part in instigating the massacre.
Thats the worst thing about this book though, it’s not a work of fiction. This happened. The Rwanda Government really did rally their people to raise arms to their friends and neighbours and slaughter them in their homes, in their workplace, in their churches in front of the eyes of their Gods.
I hope its a mistake history never repeats.
‘Novels are nice,’ my friend said. ‘They stop.’ He waggled his fingers to make quotation marks in the air. ‘They say, ‘The End.’ Very nice. A marvelous invention. Here we have stories, but never ‘The End.‘
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch