Thursday, September 2, 2010

Suggested Read of the Week

I was recently commissioned to read and review self-published books by two novice authors for publicity purposes. While I'm not in charge of the publicity - the person I was commissioned by is the 'go-to' on that - I've decided to share one of the book reviews here anyway. I thoroughly enjoyed the book ...So if you're looking for something to read, check it out.

Rwanda - Who's Responsible for the Genocide? by Dr Augustine Gasarasi

Delivered with the poignant candour of a mature writer, Dr Augustine Gasarasi recounts his experience of the 1990-94 Rwandan genocide in his debut novel, Rwanda: Who’s responsible for the genocide? The memoir chronicles the Tutsi-Hutu antagonism through the eyes of a medical practitioner at the climax of the war. The account begins in South Africa during Gasarasi’s employment at the Manguzi Hospital in KwaNgwanase where he is called on by a friend to share his journey that uprooted him from his homeland in Rwanda to Kwa-Zulu Natal.

The tale takes a critical but non-judgemental look at the heavy hand of social injustice afflicted on the people Gasarasi encounters, of both Hutu and Tutsi allegiance. The expression of the authors’ disappointment in the Rwandan people as a nation is unmistakably an undercurrent throughout the book as he recalls the horrific transgressions he has witnessed.

Gasarasi begins his description of the civil war remembering that in 1990 the infiltration of a military organisation of exiled Tutsis renewed age-old division and changed the Rwandan landscape irreversibly. The early attacks from the exiled militia advancing from the north soon became full-blown civil war, progressing from a political squabble to unrestrained fighting and blood-shed in the struggle for power. As the tale unfolds and civilian brutality becomes increasingly widespread, Gasarasi’s uncertain future causes him to flee south in the hope of finding refugee status. Aggression from both sides was only fuelled as attacks from one party initiated retaliation and further violence from the other. The events which Gasarasi narrates from his journey south are unthinkable to outsiders who have never experienced life inside a confused and war-torn nation state. For Gasarasi, weeks bled into months of endless gunfire, hunger and persistent anxiety, this moving account is a solemn read that will make even the most hard done by grateful.

Even throughout his hardship, the book reveals Gasarasi as a courageous medical practitioner whose dedication to others becomes the channel through which he directs his own hope for survival. Without fear of being ostracised he helps both Tutsis and Hutus, and in every circumstance where he is able, Gasarasi gives his professional attention.

This book is an incredible depiction of survival, bravery and perseverance under extremely harrowing circumstances. The author concludes his thoughts with a request for Rwandans to extend grace to their fellow countrymen and pleads for unity despite the memory of war and anguish.

Dr Augustine Gasarasi (70) is currently retired and lives in Empangeni, South Africa, with his beloved wife, Marie-Theresa.
To purchase your own copy of Rwanda: Who is responsible for the genocide? for R130 (including postage and packaging), contact Dr Augustine Gasarasi directly at or 035 772 5272.

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