Start date: 18.1.13
Blurb: This extraordinary book is about what happened when the Rwandan government in 1944 implemented a policy that called on everyone in the Hutu majority to murder everyone in the Tutsi minority. Though the massacres were low-tech, done largely by machete, they were carried out at dazzling speed, and 800,000 people were killed in a hundred days. Pastors in one Tutsi community sent a letter to their church president, a Hutu, that included the chilling phrase that give Phillip Gourevitch his title.
This haunting work is not only an anatomy of this genocide and what Rwandans call its ‘genocidal logic’, but also a vivid history of the background to the tragedy and an unforgettable account of its aftermath: the mass displacements, the temptations of revenge and the quest for justice, the replacement of elites and the plight of survivors, the impossibly crowded prisons and militant refugee camps. Philip Gourevitch’s intimate portraits of Rwandans in all walks of life as they cope with the psychological and political challenges of survival make their tragic situation unexpectedly immediate and familiar; his dramatic narrative also shows how resurgent genocidal forces threatened to plunge central Africa into total war, and how his sparked the drive to oust Mobutu from power in the Congo. Lastly, he contrasts the Rwandans’ provocatively original political response to the horror with the wholly inadequate reactions of international humanitarian organizations and foreign governments.
What made me pick it from the bookshelf:
Having spent a lot of time working with Rwandan refugees I have developed a fascination with the country, its history, its people and how the events of 1994 were ignored by all those that had the power to help. I also run the Amnesty society and teach Human Rights at the school that I work in so I am hoping this book will help to educate those younger than me….most who have never heard of what happened in Rwanda just 19 years ago!
Blurb: William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled, modern science was a mystery, hunger and drought were a daily reality, and hope and opportunity were hard t find. Faced with crippling adversity and unable to afford the tuition to pursue his passion for science at school, William had a ‘crazy idea’.
With only a few old text books and incredible determination, William constructed a crude windmill. This unlikely contraption would prove to be the small miracle that would eventually bring electricity and water to William’s village, changing the community and transforming the lives of those around him.
What made me pick it from the bookshelf: This book was recommended to me by the lovely Jackie who I met in Zambia this summer whilst volunteering in both Meheba Refugee Camp and in local schools in Livingstone. On my return to England I got a copy from my local bookshop and on my shelf it has sat for 10 months. I picked it up because I feel I need reminding of the great power that we humans possess, how we can use it to not only better life for ourselves but much more importantly we can use it to help others. I picked it up to learn of a new culture, a new country and a new person. We can learn so much from others stories. They can inspire us to do great things. They can make us realise how important we are. They teach us and we must never stop learning.