Rwanda and the Devil: Letter to The Walrus
Thank you for Alice Mukarurinda’s story of tragedy and reconciliation in Rwanda (“No Small Mercy,” May). It is perfectly understandable that she should tell her children that “the devil came to Rwanda,” but there is nothing supernatural about what happened fifteen years ago in Central Africa. It was less a story of divine good versus evil than a story of very human manipulation and fear, a descent into momentary madness. The fraction of the Hutu population that took up machetes against their countrymen (estimated at less than 20 percent) were, like Alice’s attacker, terrified by the approaching Rwandan Patriotic Front army of Paul Kagame, an army that would later exact its own UN-documented toll on Hutu civilians. This does not by any means excuse or diminish the horror of the 1994 genocide, but it does make it “our” story, not the devil’s. And it also helps to explain why reconciliation in Rwanda will be an excruciatingly difficult and lengthy process.
Producer, Out of the Darkness
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