The Graves Are Not Yet Full: Race, Tribe, and Power in the Heart of Africa

The Graves Are Not Yet Full: Race, Tribe, and Power in the Heart of Africa

The Graves Are Not Yet Full: Race, Tribe, and Power in the Heart of Africa

The Graves Are Not Yet Full: Race, Tribe, and Power in the Heart of Africa

Synopsis

Since 1983 journalist Bill Berkeley has traveled through Africa's most troubled lands -- Rwanda, Liberia, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and Zaire -- seeking out the tyrants and military leaders who orchestrate seemingly intractable wars. Shattering the myth that ancient tribal hatred lies at the heart of the continent's troubles, Berkeley instead holds accountable the "Big Men" who came to power during this period, describing the very rational methods behind their apparent madness.

Excerpt

"I KILLED BECAUSE I WAS FORCED TO," said that man in the dirty white shirt, his face knotted with anxiety, eyes averted. "I either had to do it or I would die myself. Many were killed for refusing to kill."

His name was François-Xavier Sibomana, forty-seven years old and balding. He had thin wrists and knobby, callused fingers. He was talking about the murder of his brother-in-law, Isaac Kimonyo.

"I did not kill him single-handedly," he explained. "We would converge on a person. We killed a number of people, but jointly." In his own village they killed nine people, he said. He used a machete; others used clubs. "I knew some of them personally. They were neighbors."

But his own brother-in-law?

"He did not deserve to die. He was an old man."

François rubbed his hands on his worn gray cotton trousers, crudely repaired with black stitches at the crotch. He brushed the ground with his blue canvas sneakers, with no laces, no socks. "We killed him in his house," he continued. "He was dragged from the bedroom and killed in the sitting room. Emmanuel struck him first. He was the leader of the militia. I could not do it myself. For me, I stood by and watched. There was nothing I could do."

Nothing he could do?

"I made no effort to stop the killers because we were led by the leader of the militia," François insisted. "So nobody would dare to ask to spare the man."

François Sibomana had spent most of his life cultivating sorghum and sweet potatoes on the steep mountain slopes of Kibungo Prefecture in eastern Rwanda. He said he had never killed before. He had a wife and eight children, though he didn't know where they were. He was now in captivity—an admitted member of the Interahamwe militia, "those who attack together," the Hutu death squads that had . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.