The Debris of Ham: Ethnicity, Regionalism, and the 1994 Rwandan Genocide

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The Debris of Ham: Ethnicity, Regionalism, and the 1994 Rwandan Genocide

By Aimable Twagilimana
University Press of America, 2003
250 pp. $39.00
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Twagilimana brings the local sensitivity and specialized knowledge of a native Rwandan to this account of the 1994 genocide. The author also presents a new historical perspective on the event: that it was the byproduct of long-standing regional rivalries among the country's Hutu ethnic majority. The organizers of the mass killings, a ruling clique of Hutus based in the northern Gisenyi and Ruhengeri regions, acted out of fear of losing power to the aggrieved southern Hutus, who were beginning to challenge northern dominance. Placing the Rwandan experience in a comparative framework, Twagilimana draws on studies of the Holocaust for insight into the pressures on those who were drafted to participate in mass murder. Although the text could have benefited from some basic editing, it contains enough interesting detail and original reflection to make a useful contribution to the growing literature on the Rwandan genocide.

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