Philip Gourevitch Essay

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Philip Gourevitch's book is the closest we have so far to a Rwandan account of the genocide because a lot of it consists of Rwandan voices talking. He has a good ear and a good eye and has had the time to follow the stories through. He tracked down Pastor Ntakirutimana and his son Dr Gerard in America and finds them fearful, denying that they did anything wrong, or if they did, claiming it was in self-defence. Mostly they talk about chaos. Gourevitch lets them have their say. In 350 pages, Gourevitch investigates the painful challenge of human evil, the kind that becomes endorsed by the leaders so that it tragically becomes grippeed by typical, every day people. He doesn't have any quick solutions but he does however, dig brilliantly into possible causes of the genocide that hit Rwanda in April 1994. Using the oral history of many eye witnesses, Gourevitch weaves story telling and history, especially the role of the Belgians in dividing and conquering by giving special privileges to the Tutsis, resulting in incredible resentment in the hearts of the Hutus who are 85% of Rwandas population. In the introduction, Philip Gourevitch writes, "… the government had adopted a new policy, according to which everyone in the country's Hutu majority group was called upon to murder everyone in the Tutsi minority... [they] imagined that by exterminating the Tutsi people they could make the world a better place..." (6)

Imagining the world in different lights was a huge part of a Rwandans life. This could be the very reason Rwanda faced/faces the struggles they do. Words don't do justice explains Gourevitch, "the word genocide and the images of the nameless and numberless dead left too much to the imagination…" (16). It is more important to know exactly how Rwandans understood what had happened in their country, and how they were dealing with its repercussions. Gourevitch does this by providing examples from history that details the understanding of not only society as a...
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