My peace studies professor wants me to go to Uganda and Rwanda.
This suggestion came after speaking with her about my Kony 2012 article for The Quindecim as well as my interest in traveling to South Africa this January for an intensive course abroad. She shook her head and said that South Africa was too “saturated.” She said she can see me reporting from Central Africa. She seems to be a bit more clued into my passion for doing so than perhaps even I am.
As soon as she suggested this (she even told me to talk to her about a few internships in Rwanda that she has connections to–something I at once would only have dreamed of being able to do), I began devouring every piece of literature and information I could about the area. I know very little about Uganda, and all I know of Rwanda is how its own conflict fueled that of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
One of the best books that I’ve begun reading in the past week is God Sleeps In Rwanda (pictured above). You can read a much better and more detailed description of the book in this Washington Post review. The book is, essentially, the memoir of the author, Joseph Sebarenzi, who wrote the book with Laura Ann Mullane. Sebarenzi’s story is a personal account of the Rwandan Genocide, in which 800,000 Tutsi were savagely murdered by the Hutu, an extremist group. Sebarenzi was sent to school in Congo during the clash, but his parents and siblings were among those killed. Sebarenzi’s book covers more than just this; he speaks of returning to Rwanda, only to flee again.
In my opinion, personal accounts like Sebarenzi’s are some of the best sources of information about faraway, complicated issues. They generally seem not to be filled with glossed-over, superficial summaries of conflicts. To me, they make everything a bit closer and much more real.