Some say the fuse was lit almost 100 years ago. In 1916 Belgian colonists arrived in Rwanda, and exacerbated the hostilities between the nation’s ethnic rivals, the Tutsis and the Hutus, by favoring the Tutsis and discriminating against the Hutus.
In 1959, the long-festering resentment between the two groups erupted in riots, resulting in the murder of 20,000 Tutsis and the Hutus assuming control of the government relinquished by the Belgians.
Fast forward to April 6, 1994. The presidents of Rwanda and Burundi were flying back from a summit where they had discussed ways to end the hostilities between Hutus and Tutsis. Their plans for peace went up in flames when their plane was shot down. The nation plunged into genocidal chaos and almost a million citizens were slaughtered over the next 100 days.
Today, on the 12th anniversary of that fateful plane ride, Paul Rusesabagina’s book will be released. “An Ordinary Man: The Story of Hotel Rwanda” describes how Rusesabagina saved 1,268 people from the 1994 Rwandan massacres. Rusesabagina himself will talk about his harrowing experiences on Monday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the library’s Perspectives series.
You’re invited to join us for this free event, which will be held in the Center for the Arts building at George Mason University. You can find articles about the history of the Rwandan conflict in the library’s online databases. Check out:
Machete Season by Jean Hatzfeld.
In the Aftermath of Genocide by Robert E. Gribbin.
The Bone Woman by Clea Koff.
When Victims Become Killers by Mahmood Mamdani.
Me Against My Brother by Scott Peterson.
Land of a Thousand Hills by Rosamond Halsey Carr.