4 - ‘From Ashes to the Top’: Rwanda Genocide and Promotion of Women Pamela Khanakwa
Corresponding Author(s) : Swanee Hunt
Africa Review of Books,
Vol. 14 No. 2 (2018): Africa Review of Books, volume 14, n° 2, 2018
On April 6, 1994, violence broke out in Rwanda, with Hutu killing Tutsi. The violence began as a response to the shooting of President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane at about 8:30 pm on April 6 and killed all on board. It degenerated into a genocide that lasted for one hundred days and left approximately eight hundred thousand people dead. This genocide has been the subject of extensive study and documentation.1 In Rwandan Women Rising, Swanee Hunt adds to this literature by exploring how Rwandan women rose from helpless victims to powerful and influential positions of leadership that enabled them to be at the forefront of helping their country rise from the ashes. Drawing on hundreds of conversations with mostly women and a few men over a period of sixteen years, Hunt brings forth the women’s stories both during and after the massacre. She lets Rwandan women share their stories in their own words.
This gives the reader a vivid picture of the events and experiences during the massacre and in its aftermath. Her main thrust is that the genocide and its aftermath provided space and opportunities for Rwandan women to rise to prominent positions, especially as they engaged in talks, reconciliation work, and took up positions in both government structures and the private sector. But how was this possible and what was the context?