Top positive review
His accounts of visits to the larger massacre sites are horrifying and profoundly sad. He makes the history of the country and .
October 24, 2015
Will Ferguson won the Giller Prize for 419, a work of fiction set in Nigeria.
This is a non-fictional account of his journey through Rwanda twenty years after the genocide where almost a million people, mainly Tutsis were massacred.
I was on a camping trip throughout Rwanda shortly before the killing started and thought it was a country of breathtaking beauty. Ferguson's lush, vivid descriptions of the landscape, green hills, flowers and other vegetation, buildings, colourful dresses and misty mountains transports one and you are seeing the land through his eyes.
Since my trip there I read many non-fiction books about the genocide. His accounts of visits to the larger massacre sites are horrifying and profoundly sad. He makes the history of the country and events leading up to the slaughter more coherent than previous books I have read. He uses the latest and most reliable statistics and the numbers are beyond grim.
Once the killing began, the author lays the blame for its continuation. The UN force, lead by Canadian General Dallaire had their mandate, manpower and equipment seriously depleted. The USA would not call what was happening a genocide to avoid helping. The French led Tutsis out of hiding and then left them to be massacred.
There was plenty of blame to go around. An impoverished, shattered country was left after four months of slaughter with so many dead or fleeing the country and those remaining numb with shock, grief or guilt. Rwanda is making an amazing recovery, leading other African countries in many social and economic fields. Where they have looked for examples in order to make such progress is surprising.
During his journey it is not all grim. There are humorous incidents where appropriate. The life story of Ferguson's native guide Jean-Claude, who left Rwanda just before the slaughter and now lives in Canada is an incredible one. This remarkable man needs a book or movie based on his contributions in Africa and in Canada.
Highly recommended for those interested in recent political and social history and travel to remote places.