Rwanda Suggested Reading List

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This list of books on Rwanda was developed by DPMI Rwanda instructor, Marie Laugharn and DPMI Rwanda student, Grace Proctor.  Enjoy!

1) Rwanda Means the Universe  - Louise Mushikiwabo

Mushikiwabo is a Rwandan working as a translator in Washington when she learns that most of her family back home has been killed in a conspiracy meticulously planned by the state. First comes shock, then aftershock, three months of it, during which her worst fears are confirmed: The same state apparatus has duped millions of Rwandans into butchering nearly a million of their neighbors.
Years earlier, her brother Lando wrote her a letter she never got until now. Urged on by it, she rummages into their farm childhood, and into family corners alternately dark, loving, and humorous. She searches for stray mementos of the lost, then for their roots. What she finds is that and more—hints, roots, of the 1994 crime that killed her family. Her narrative takes the reader on a journey from the days the world and Rwanda discovered each other back to colonial period when pseudoscientific ideas about race put the nation on a highway bound for the 1994 genocide.
Seven years of full-time collaboration by two writers—and the faith of family and friends—went into this emotionally charged work. Rwanda Means the Universe is at once a celebration of the lives of the lost and homage to their past, but it’s no comfortable tribute. It’s an expression of dogged hope in the face of modern evil.

 

2) A Thousand Hills – Stephen Kinzer

A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It is the story of Paul Kagame, a refugee who, after a generation of exile, found his way home. Learn about President Kagame, who strives to make Rwanda the first middle-income country in Africa, in a single generation. In this adventurous tale, learn about Kagame’s early fascination with Che Guevara and James Bond, his years as an intelligence agent, his training in Cuba and the United States, the way he built his secret rebel army, his bloody rebellion, and his outsized ambitions for Rwanda.

 

3) Speak Rwanda  - Julian Pierce

 

Speak Rwanda is the powerful story of ten people—Hutu and Tutsi, civilians and soldiers, mothers, politicians, and orphaned children—as they attempt to survive one of the most disturbing massacres since the Second World War; but the novel is not a story of war, instead it documents the experiences of the people who lived before, during, and after such an event. Through their individual voices we come to fully understand the moving and complex truths that existed behind our newspaper headlines.

 

 

4) Baking Cakes in Kigali – Gaile Parkin

This soaring novel introduces us to Angel Tungaraza: mother, cake baker, pillar of her community, keeper of secrets big and small. Angel’s kitchen is an oasis in the heart of Rwanda, where visitors stop to order cakes but end up sharing their stories, transforming their lives, leaving with new hope. In this vibrant, powerful setting, unexpected things are beginning to happen: A most unusual wedding is planned, a heartbreaking mystery involving Angel’s own family unravels, and extraordinary connections are made—as a chain of events unfolds that will change Angel’s life and the lives of those around her in the most astonishing ways.

 

5) I’m Not Leaving – Carl Wilkens

I’m Not Leaving –
Rwanda through the eyes of the only American to remain in the country throughout the 1994 genocide.

Wilkens writes:
It must have been about the 2nd week of the genocide that I got the idea of talking on a cassette recorder, to record what was happening around me. I honestly did not know if I was going to survive this dark time, and if I didn’t survive I wanted to leave something for my wife and our three children.

I always scribbled our home address in Spokane, Washington on each tape in the hope that if something did happen to me and our home here was looted, some kind person might find these tapes and send them to their intended destination.  The vast majority of this book is based on those tapes, about eight hours of recordings.

 

6) Rwanda Which way Now?  - David Walker

On 6th April, 1994, Rwanda slipped into an abyss. After 100 days one tenth of the population was dead and two million people had fled from their homes. How and why did it happen? What are the hopes for reconciliation? What is the country’s long-term future? This edition has been updated to include a final section which examines these questions. It covers events from the start of the genocide through to the programme of reconstruction, and looks at the international response to the crisis.

 

About Carolyn Meyer

Director of Professional Immersive Learning and Special Programs, GSIPM

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