In This Review

Surviving the Slaughter: The Ordeal of a Rwandan Refugee in Zaire
Surviving the Slaughter: The Ordeal of a Rwandan Refugee in Zaire
By Marie Béatrice Umutesi. Translated by Julia Emerson
University of Wisconsin Press, 2004, 284 pp

Much of the recent literature on Rwanda's ethnic strife has focused on the genocide against the Tutsis. This is unfortunate, because it obscures the fact that there were many Hutu victims as well and that much of the worst violence in the region took place long after the well-known events of the spring of 1994. Umutesi's remarkable narrative deserves to be read widely if only to undermine these misperceptions. A college-educated Hutu who had been active in Rwandan civil-society organizations, she was forced to flee Rwanda to escape persecution by the Tutsi regime of Pasteur Bizimungu and Paul Kagame, which came to power in July 1994 in the wake of the massacre of Tutsis by a Hutu regime. The most arresting pages of her book tell the story of the harrowing 2,000-kilometer journey she made with hundreds of thousands of others through the forests of central Africa over the next three years. Preyed on by armies, war lords, and bandits in the utter chaos that was then (and largely remains) the Congo -- and mostly ignored by the international community, which tended to view them as guilty Hutus running from prosecution -- these refugees experienced the most precarious living conditions. Passages of Umutesi's book rank with some of the most effective antiwar literature of the twentieth century.