Saturday, January 02, 2010

Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda by Romeo Dallaire

Who can forget the clan/tribe related genocide that took place in Rwanda in Africa in early 1990s? As the world simply watched, close to 800,000 people mainly belonging to Tutsi tribe were systematically massacred by other ethnic group - Hutus. What a mindless carnage! 800,000 in 100 days.

This is the book by the man who watched it unfold from beginning to end. The author was the head of the UN peace keeping force sent to Rwanda. As peace keepers, they had no ability or rights to create the peace. Since there was no peace at all, there was no question of keeping it anyway. So, while the world shied away from Rwanda, Romeo Dallaire and his few men had to watch the slaughter as it unfolded.

The author, assisted by another writer, goes on in a very journal-type style without any rhetoric or unnecessary melodrama. It is like - been there, seen that -kind of style.

It was a colossal failure from rest of the world not to have done anything to prevent that genocide.UN, being what it is, could not and did not do much. Despite some good intentions, things take a way too long time to process through UN red tape. Powerful nations did not want to intervene on their own. Multiple reasons for that. US had just retreated from Somalia after the disaster in which a few US soldiers were killed and their dead bodies were dragged on the streets of Mogadishu. After such a media and military fiasco, US did not wish to participate in what they probably termed as a no-win situation. Former colonial powers like Belgium and France did not want to get involved as there was nothing left to loot. They had done all that before they gave independence to Rwanda - one of the poorest countries. So, without any strategic interest or value to anybody, it was no wonder everybody looked other way while people surpassed all decency and killed each other worse than anyone would kill even little insects. The kind of violence and barbarism deployed is not believable if somebody else, other than Dallaire, were to tell the story.

This book is a great read for anyone interested in the subject. Of course, this is a book to read for fun while lazing on the beach. This book will force you to pray for all those souls.

There is a nice documentary also which tracks Dallaire when visits Rwanda after 10 years. Good movie. More details here. (

Another great book related to this is - Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza.

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1 comment:

crazyfirdayman said...

I enjoyed reading your BLOG on this book. So have added it to my Amazon list for purchase on the next batch I do. I saw the film a few months ago and was appauled by the tragic loss of life. The west should of done something, it seems almost political correctness gone mad in the UN's refusal to have been active. As for the US, I'm sure they would of been more involved had oil fields been at contest.