Rwandans have a favorite saying: Imana yirwa ahandi igataha i Rwanda.
"Wherever God spends the day, He comes home to sleep in Rwanda." For much of the early '90s though, as the country was torn apart by tensions and later genocide, this statement would have been hard to believe.
Naomi Benaron's incredible debut novel, Running the Rift
, is set during one of the most tumultuous times in Rwanda's recent history. The ever-simmering tensions between the Hutu and the Tutsi exploded in full force in 1994 when President Habyarimana was killed (along with the president of neighboring Burundi) in a suspicious plane crash. Mistrust immediately fell on the RPF, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, mostly Tutsi refugees who had fled to Uganda during earlier clashes. The resulting genocide, which lasted more than 90 days, killed over 800,000 people - mostly Tutsi and moderate...
Beyond the Book
While the Hutu and Tutsi clans have been in Rwanda for centuries, it was after the Belgian colonialists took over the country in 1916 that categorizations into Hutu and Tutsi were made more explicit through the use of ethnic identity cards. The minority Tutsi were largely favored for government jobs early on in the colonial government and decades of resentment simmered until things went completely haywire in April 1994.
It was then that the President of Rwanda, Juvénal Habyarimana, was killed in a suspicious plane accident along with the president of neighboring Burundi,...