Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe

Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe

Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe

Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe

Synopsis

The Rwandan genocide sparked a horrific bloodbath that swept across sub-Saharan Africa, ultimately leading to the deaths of some four million people. In this extraordinary history of the recent wars in Central Africa, Gerard Prunier offers a gripping account of how one grisly episode laid the groundwork for a sweeping and disastrous upheaval.
Prunier vividly describes the grisly aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, when some two million refugees--a third of Rwanda's population--fled to exile in Zaire in 1996. The new Rwandan regime then crossed into Zaire and attacked the refugees, slaughtering upwards of 400,000 people. The Rwandan forces then turned on Zaire's despotic President Mobutu and, with the help of a number of allied African countries, overthrew him. But as Prunier shows, the collapse of the Mobutu regime and the ascension of the corrupt and erratic Laurent-D sir Kabila created a power vacuum that drew Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and other African nations into an extended and chaotic war. The heart of the book documents how the whole core of the African continent became engulfed in an intractible and bloody conflict after 1998, a devastating war that only wound down following the assassination of Kabila in 2001. Prunier not only captures all this in his riveting narrative, but he also indicts the international community for its utter lack of interest in what was then the largest conflict in the world.

Praise for the hardcover:

"The most ambitious of several remarkable new books that reexamine the extraordinary tragedy of Congo and Central Africa since the Rwandan genocide of 1994."
--New York Review of Books

"One of the first books to lay bare the complex dynamic between Rwanda and Congo that has been driving this disaster."
--Jeffrey Gettleman,New York Times Book Review

"Lucid, meticulously researched and incisive, Prunier's will likely become the standard account of this under-reported tragedy."
--Publishers Weekly

Excerpt

In 1885, at the heyday of European imperialism, Africa was a continent apart. It had no nation-states, no caliphate, and no empire. It did not even have the crude military dictatorships that at the time passed for states in Latin America. It was a continent of clans, of segmentary tribes and of a few sacred monarchies. Societies were what mattered, and the state was a construct many could live without. Boundaries did exist, but not in the European sense. They were linguistic, cultural, military, or commercial, and they tended to crisscross and overlap, without the neat delineations so much beloved by Western statesmen since the treaties of Westphalia. Colonial European logic played havoc with that delicate cobweb of relationships. New borders were drawn not so much in violation of preexisting ones but according to a different logic. African borders had been porous membranes through which proto-nations were breathing, and the colonial borders that superseded them were of the pre-1914 cast-iron variety. Then, within those borders, vast enterprises of social and economic rationalization were undertaken, all for the good of the natives, of course, and for the greater prosperity of the empire. African social and cultural ways of doing things were neither taken into account nor questioned; they were simply made obsolete. Karl Marx and Rudyard Kipling agreed: empire was progressive. The Europeans rationalized African cultures to death. And it is that contrived rationality that they bequeathed to Africa when they walked away from the continent in the 1960s.

The problem was that this rationality had not had time to filter down from the exalted spheres of government and philosophy to the real lives of ordinary people. Marxists would have said that, after seventy-five years of colonization, the administrative superstructure bore little relationship to the productive infrastructure. The Europeans had destroyed a traditional culture, planning to rebuild it along wonderfully rational lines at a later date. But history forced them to walk away before they could complete their sup-

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.