The Dark Side of Rwanda’s Rebirth
This commentary was originally published in Foreign Policy on May 29, 2021.
“The dead are only dead when the living forget them,” Jacquemain Shabani, a Congolese political figure close to President Félix Tshisekedi, recently said. “The victims of a massacre, of a genocide, are once again slaughtered whenever this evidence is denied.”
Shabani was reacting to the words of Rwandan president Paul Kagame who, during an interview with France 24, had denied that foreign troops—including Rwandans—had ever committed massacres of civilian populations on Congolese territory in the years following the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
The recent history of Africa’s Great Lakes region has in many ways been a dialogue between the living and the dead, and when the living fail in their obligations to honor the dead—and go so far as to deny the crimes that caused so many deaths—they perpetuate the cycle of conflict in the region.
Michela Wrong’s Do Not Disturb: The Story of Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad is the fascinating account of how Kagame and his regime have come to embody this macabre dialogue between the dead and the living, which continues to haunt the region.
Captivating, gripping, and depressing, Do Not Disturb takes readers through the twisted, bloody—and often unknown—chapters in the history of Africa’s Great Lakes region. It is a story of deceit, intrigue, lofty dreams, and broken promises.