Term Paper: 1994 Rwandan Genocide Critique

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[. . .] According to an account by a prominent Rwandan related to Gourevitch: "[S]ince I was four or five years old, I have seen houses destroyed, I have seen people being killed, every few years, 'sixty four, 'sixty-six, 'sixty-seven, 'seventy-three. So probably I told myself it's not going to be serious" (108). These problems, though, did not just fall out of the sky and land on Rwanda, but represent a complex legacy of European colonialism, Rwandan politics as well as the role played by aid organizations in this country today; these issues are discussed further below.

Contribution of European Colonialism, Rwandan Politics and the Role of Different Aid Organizations to the Rwandan Genocide. Although the complex social relations between Tutsi herders and Hutu farmers existed before the arrival of the Europeans at the end of the nineteenth century, Gourevitch points out that it was in the best interests of the newly arrived European colonialists to play both ends against the middle, with themselves the ultimate beneficiaries. In fact, until Mbonyumutwa's [a prominent Hutu chieftain] beating [by the Tutsi radicals] lit the spark in 1959 there had never been systematic political violence recorded between Hutus and Tutsis -- anywhere (Gourevitch 59). According to Gourevitch, after the Hutus had come to dominate Rwandan life, they continued to regard the minority Tutsis as being more ambitious than they were, and perhaps, of being more intelligent as well. The inferiority complex that resulted was the direct result of the colonial period in which the Tutsis had been systematically favored and the Hutus systematically marginalized. Although this ethnic conceptualization was entirely spurious, Gourevitch points out that it did serve as the springboard for what was to follow during those 100 days in 1994. The various nongovernmental agencies (NGOs) that were supposed to help all of the Rwandan citizens also sided with the Habyarimana's regime, and simply ignored the enormity of the human rights abuses and slaughter that were taking place all around them.


As a result of Phillip Gourevitch's efforts in this book, the world is slowly beginning to learn something about the reality of what actually took place in Rwanda during the closing years of the 20th century. In this book, Gourevitch paints a grim picture about the events that led to the 1994 genocide in which hundreds of thousands of Tutsis were massacred to the point where the Hutus almost succeeded in completely eliminating the Tutsi segment of the Rwandan population, as well as countless members of the Hutus themselves to opposed the slaughter in the first place. The systematic and institutionalized method by which this slaughter took place was not unique to Rwanda, of course, but Gourevitch suggests that a combination of a cultural acceptance of violence, the nefarious roles played by NGOs, Rwandan governmental agencies and the nation's churches, all contributed to the genocide that took place during those terrible months of 1994.

Works Cited

Gourevitch, Philip. We Wish… [END OF PREVIEW]

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