Last month Rwanda commemorated the 25th anniversary of the genocide. Unlike the recent outpouring of books marking hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War, there was only a short flurry of newspaper and radio remembrances of the events of April and May of 1994. The number of book-length narratives was similarly small.
Now Andrew Wallis
has published a significant new survey of the origins and aftermath of the genocide. Stepp’d in Blood: Akazu and the Architects of the Rwandan Genocide Against the Tutsis
(Zero Books, 2019), engages the deep roots of the genocide. Wallis argues that the decision to commit genocide emerged out of a political crisis. Their power and wealth threatened by the emergence of a multi-party political process and an RPF invasion, a small group of politicians, governmental officials and family members around Juvenal and Agathe Habyarimana resorted to massive violence in order to secure their positions. While the violence targeted Tutsis especially, it was essentially political in nature and in aims.
Wallis is a journalist who has written about Rwanda for decades. He is intimately familiar with the country, its leaders and its history. Writing for a broad audience, Wallis brings a journalist’s eye and pen to his book. His prose is full of fascinating details, quotes and images. The many cartoons, in particular, make this book stand out.
Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University. He’s the author of four modules in the Reacting to the Past series, including The Needs of Others: Human Rights, International Organizations and Intervention in Rwanda, 1994.