Category: Rwanda

Rémy Ngamije: The Eternal Audience of One

The latest addition to my website is Rémy Ngamije‘s The Eternal Audience of One. Rémy Ngamije, like his hero Séraphin, was born in Rwanda. His family fled Rwanda during the Rwandan Civil War and ended up in Namibia via Kenya. Séraphin is, like a lot of young men, unsure of where he is going, feels it is him against the rest of the world and likes sex (lots of it). The main thrust of the novel involves his study of law in Cape Town where he has lots of sex, gets into fights and hangs out with a group of friends. By the end of the novel, he is basically unchanged. Interesting as a novel about a refugee in a country he does not particularly like but the character of our hero remains trying to be clever, lost soul throughout the book.

Scholastique Mukasonga: Notre-Dame du Nil (Our Lady of the Nile)

The latest addition to my website is Scholastique Mukasonga‘s Notre-Dame du Nil (Our Lady of the Nile). The novel tells the story of an elite girls’ school in the highlands of Rwanda. We follow some of the individual girls and teachers, as well as the various events at the school. In particular, the school is located not far from the source of the Nile and there is a black Madonna overlooking the site, to which the school makes an annual pilgrimage. However, this is the period when the Hutu-Tutsi conflict is breaking out and one girl, Gloriosa, daughter of a powerful father, helps foment the conflict in the school, even as it is starting up elsewhere in the country. As the school has both Hutu and Tutsi girls, things become very unpleasant. One of the girls is based on Mukasonga herself, who had to flee the country, while many of her family members were killed.

Gaël Faye: Petit pays [Little Country]

pays

The latest addition to my website is Gaël Faye‘s Petit pays [Little Country]. Gaël Faye was born in Burundi of a French father and a Rwandan mother. He now lives in France and has been a successful hip-hop artist. This is his first novel. This is an autobiographical novel of his life in Burundi. On the whole he had a happy childhood, though his parents separated when he was a bit older. At about this time, the situation in Rwanda, which had been bad and then improved, suddenly got much worse. His mother, who had had to leave soon after independence, tried to find her family but nearly loses her life. Meanwhile, after the first democratic election of a president in Burundi, the president is assassinated. This leads to terrible violence in the country. Initially, they are relatively protected in Bujumbura but the violence spreads there and the family is involved, witnessing a brutal murder and they are at risk from attack. Eventually, they are evacuated to France. Faye tells an excellent story about the horrors of the two wars and how the country he loved so much become a country he has to leave. Despite the haven that France offers, he continues to feel a foreigner there and misses Burundi. This novel won two French literary prizes.

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