Libmonster ID: UK-1407
Author(s) of the publication: A. A. PANOV

Author: A. A. PANOV

Recently, a new stable expression has taken root in Russian journalism and the language of near-political discussions - "Hutu against Tutsi", a kind of meme * that is spontaneously transmitted through social networks, blogs, and the media. Journalists, publicists, and political commentators like to use this phrase, which refers to the ethno-political conflict that lasted for decades in the Great Lakes region of Africa, in their columns or speeches. Few of them, however, have any idea what a complex historical drama really lies behind these two words.

Here are a couple of examples. Journalist Oleg Kashin on the air of the radio station "Echo of Moscow" on May 30, 2014, when asked by the host whether a journalist can remain neutral when covering the armed conflict, he answers that this is impossible with all his desire, but immediately makes a reservation that, most likely, Western journalists who covered the Tutsi-Hutu conflict were neutral. 1.

Another journalist, Sergei Parkhomenko, in a debate with his infamous colleague Alexander Nevzorov about whether history can be considered a science, expressed even more enchanting stupidity: it is supposedly historically accurately recorded that in 1000, simultaneously with the appearance of the first European on the American mainland, the Hutus first went to war against the Tutsi. "Since then, everything that we know about the American continent has happened on the American continent, and the war continues between Hutu and Tutsi <...> they had exactly the same opportunities, they had exactly the same time, they lived in equally bad climatic conditions. Some have achieved this, and others have achieved this, "Parkhomenko said, also noting that this is supposedly an example of a real, "scientific" history without any ideology.2

The 1994 Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, which, of course, is not limited to the conflict in the Great Lakes region of Africa, but which is its culmination and most famous stage. As well as the most stable association that now pops up when mentioning Hutus and Tutsis, it is thus seen from the outside as a kind of extra-historical example, torn out of any political context, of the bloody and senseless African massacre of two existentially hating each other "tribes", in which there are no rights and culprits, no beginning and end. Parkhomenko's version of the year 1000, given above, is still a unique example of absurdity pushed to the limit).

At the same time, part of the responsibility for such a primitive idea formed in Russian society about the event, which became one of the main tragedies of the XX century, lies with domestic African historians. Unfortunately, the number of works dealing with the history and political development of Rwanda in modern and contemporary times published in our country can still be counted on one's fingers. And available to a wide range of readers-and at all, until this year, perhaps, was not.

In this context, a new book by Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor of the Higher School of Economics I. V. Krivushin "One Hundred Days in the Grip of Madness: the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 "(Moscow, Publishing House of the Higher School of Economics. 2015, 528 p.) is of particular value and partially fills in the annoying gap that has formed in domestic African studies.

The book deserves the most flattering reviews, and it is safe to say that the author managed to create a real scientific bestseller. A deep historical analysis is combined with a reader-friendly form of presentation of the material, and a clearly articulated moral and civic position of the intellectual. "The events of the 1994 genocide had such an impact on me," the author of the book wrote to me in private correspondence , " that I still cannot speak calmly about some of them.


* Meme ( in Russian translation - "mim") - a term proposed by Richard Dawkins in the book "The Selfish Gene "(Dawkins R. The Selfish Gene. Oxford, 2006) as a designation for a unit of cultural information transmitted in the process of human communication and evolution, by analogy with a gene - a carrier of biological information. As examples of memes, Dawkins cites melodies, ideas, buzzwords and expressions, methods of cooking pottage or building arches (p. 189-201).

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Until recently, I had no idea that I could have so many emotions about some historical problem."

The book's condemnation is a constant background of the narrative, and it is addressed not only to the organizers and ideologues of the Tutsi extermination, but also to the entire world community, which allowed the extermination of almost a million civilians, including women and children, in 100 days due to lack of will and indifference, while having all the necessary material, technical, institutional and legal means to to save Rwanda from a clique of deranged maniacs who have seized power in it.

However, for us, the book of I. V. Krivushin, first of all, is still valuable as a historical study. The first thing you pay attention to when reading it is the thoroughness and correct meticulousness with which the author has collected and presented the chronicle and factual history of the development of the terror unleashed in the country: a description of each significant event or event-meetings, meetings, meetings, consultations-is accompanied by an explanation of the context, indicating the exact time, composition of participants, and their political affiliation and positions.

In fact, the book contains the names of all the main participants in the first and second plans of this nightmarish action: Rwandan politicians, army officers and field commanders, religious leaders, heads, ministers and diplomats of the States involved in the process, the leadership of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda, journalists covering events in Rwanda. The abundance of new names for the reader unfamiliar with the African and Rwandan political landscape does not entail difficulties in perception, thanks to a carefully compiled name index, which always allows you to find and follow each figure mentioned in the text.

Chapter 1 of the book provides an analysis of the historical causes of the genocide, laid down in the colonial era by the Belgian authorities and the Catholic Church, and, of course, provides a brief excursion into the political anthropology of pre-colonial Rwandan society. Nevertheless, the explanation of the degradation of the post-colonial Rwandan socio-political system to the state of "tropical Nazism", as the Hutu-Pava regime was dubbed by J.-P. Chretien in an article published by the French "Liberacion" in April 1994, 3 is not directly limited to the colonial heritage alone. Rather, it looks like the agony of an ethnocratic state that has failed to get out of its own dialectical impasse.

The entire spectrum of political forces and factions is represented here, as well as the complex of contradictions that existed between them. The author analyzes in detail the evolution of the complex relationship between the ruling party and the democratic opposition, as well as the process of splitting the latter and the formation of radical factions in each of the leading parties - "pava". It also reveals the regional conflict between the elite of the" northern " Hutus, led by President Zh. Habyarimana and the clan of his wife Agatha Kanzigi, on the one hand, and people from the southern prefectures of Butare, Gitarama, and Gikongoro, which dominated the era of the "First Republic" (1961-1973), on the other.

In the pages of I. V. Krivushin's book, genocide takes on its political dimension, no longer appears as a spontaneously unfolding element beyond the control of human will, but as a process prepared, managed and implemented under the leadership of political leaders and military leadership. The author alternates the chronological principle of text structuring with the problem-thematic one. Along with describing the unfolding events in their historical sequence, the book contains chapters that analyze the psychology and anthropology of genocide: the role of the army, local leaders, the media, the tender aspect, strategies for the behavior of subjects and objects of genocide, and the subsequent assessment of their actions by its participants.

The last two chapters reveal the" other " side of the history of the Tutsi genocide-the one that unfolded outside Rwanda: in Paris, Brussels, New York, and other world capitals. The long discussions of the terminology of resolutions, the strategy of peacekeeping intervention, and logistics conducted by diplomats and politicians are particularly cynical in contrast to the content of the previous chapters of the book, which describe the everyday life of the genocide, where it shows what each of the hundred days during which they waited in vain for salvation cost the victims.

The Rwandan genocide was not the result of an ethnic conflict between Hutus and Tutsis, just as it is absurd to portray the Holocaust as an ethnic conflict between Germans and Jews. In both cases, discrimination, repression and systematic extermination of people on the basis of their belonging to a minority group declared hostile to the nation were carried out by the State with the help of its repressive apparatus in order to solve domestic political problems and rally around itself a population with a previously crippled and poisoned consciousness by propaganda.

The difference between" Nordic Nazism "and" tropical Nazism " is expressed in the fact that in Rwanda, the state involved almost the entire population of the country in the process of exterminating Tutsis, while the extermination of Jews in the era of the Third Reich was carried out by special repressive structures far from the eyes of the German inhabitants. This is the difference between technocratic and national Nazism.-

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mass-populist cynicism eventually sidesteps the key issue of the role of state and political structures4 behind the organization and preparation of the Tutsi genocide, disguising it as a spontaneous ethnic conflict between Nilotic pastoralists and Bantu farmers.

Demythologization of the genesis of mass violence that unfolded in Rwanda in the early 1990s is one of the main achievements of I. V. Krivushin.

A. A. PANOV

Institute of Africa, Russian Academy of Sciences


1 Journalism of war: whose truth is truer? Oleg Kashin // Echo of Moscow - http://echo.msk.ru/programs/year2014/1329482-echo/

2 " Bonds are made out of malice." Full transcript of the discussion between Sergey Parkhomenko and Alexander Nevzorov / / Meduza - https://meduza.io/feature/2015/03/31/skrepy-delayutsya-iz-zloby

Chretien J.-P. 3 Un "Nazisme tropical" au Rwanda? Image ou logique d'un genocide // Vingtieme Sieele. Revue d'histoire. 1995. No. 48, p. 131-142.

4 In Rwanda, in addition to the actual state structures and the ruling National Revolutionary Movement for Development (NDRD) party, these are its far-right ally, the Coalition for the Defense of the Republic, the militant militia factions of both Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi parties, as well as the secret elite political societies " Akazu "(translated from Kinyarwanda - "yard"). Unarists are members of the Rwandan National Union party, which supported the preservation of the Tutsi monarchy and combined traditionalism and monarchism with socialism and anti-colonialism in its ideology.


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