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After Genocide :: Review by Martyn Drakard

Review by Martyn Drakard

Reviewer: Martyn Drakard, Writer, The Observer (Uganda)
Source: The Observer (Uganda), September 30, 2009

The September 30, 2009, issue of The Observer (Uganda) contains a book review by writer Martyn Drakard.  The piece reviews After Genocide: Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, and Reconciliation in Rwanda and Beyond.  An electronic copy of the piece, which can be found online at http://www.observer.ug/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5283&Itemid=102, is below.

 

The Observer

Written by Martyn Drakard    Wednesday, 30 September 2009 19:46

Book: After Genocide: Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Rwanda and Beyond
Author
: Phil Clark and Zachary D Kaufman (eds.)
Publisher
: Hurst & Co. London. 2008.  
Volume
: 399 pages.
Cost
: Shs 27,000
Reviewer
: Martyn Drakard
Available from Aristoc

 

Another book on Rwanda? As Gerard Prunier, author of The Rwanda Crisis: History of a genocide (1995) says: this one is “for the mature individual only. It shows the many facets of having to live in an impossibly complex social and human situation.”

Indeed, the more we come to know about the 1994 genocide, the more we learn about ourselves, our motives and inner struggles. This book, which has a Preface by President Paul Kagame, and a Foreword by Luis Moreno Ocampo of the ICC, grew out of three conferences organized by the editors, Phil Clark and Zachary D. Kaufman, at Oxford University between May 2004 and May 2005.

They believed that the best way to commemorate the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives lost in 1994 was to explore with a wide range of engaged individuals the most appropriate ways to help rebuild Rwanda today, and to publish what they had to say, together with other Rwanda “experts” who were unable to attend the conference. The volume highlights points of contention rather than seeking easy solutions, and provides the basis for the complex discussion the genocide demands.

Some of what is recorded here can be read in Romeo Dallaire’s “Shake Hands with the Devil” and Linda Melvern’s “A People Betrayed”: the constraints and vacillation of the UN, and how the Western powers looked the other way. John Major’s Foreign Secretary at the time, Douglas Hurd, in his Memoirs, writes: “It never occurred to us, the Americans or anyone to send combatant troops to Rwanda to stop the killing. I record this as a bleak fact.”

What’s perhaps of special appeal in this book is the detailed, yet interesting and accessible, study of trauma healing, reconciliation and justice in the context of the genocide by two World Vision staffers: Solomon Nsabiyera Gasana, and John Steward. Gasana is a Congolese Tutsi who grew up in the turmoil of post-independence Congo. Three of the first eight years of his life were spent in temporary shelters, as the family had to flee their home; they lived in total poverty after losing all their cattle, and, he writes, “the bitterness of my parents taught me to hate those who drove us to such destitution.”

He relates the seven stages of his personal journey of healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. Steward, a former Divinity lecturer in Australia and regular visitor to Rwanda, gives the twelve steps of the process of forgiveness. Parts III and IV deal with post-genocide transitional justice, reconstruction and reconciliation, and the legal and institutional lessons “after Rwanda”.

Hassan Bubacar Jallow, from The Gambia, a prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, states clearly the contribution of the ICTR to the development of International Criminal Law. Phil Clark clarifies the true purpose of the “gacaca” courts in the post-genocide context, their successes and weaknesses.

 

A valuable book for students of international law, sociology and psychology, for media people and those in government, and informative for everyone else.

 

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