Gerard Prunier has written the definitive volume on the complex, multi-tier relationship that ties Democratic Republic of Congo to Rwanda across one of the most beautiful valleys of the Great Rift Valley: the Kivus. I originally read this book on the flight over to Congo’s Western capital Kinshasa, to assume a new assignment at the UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo MONUC. I was spellbound but the complex picture that Prunier painted with masterful word-strokes, making one apprehensive and excited simultaneously. At the time, the intricate details of the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, as it spread to the Great Lakes sub-region and particularly to Congo was difficult to absorb and to digest. It was only a couple of years later when I moved to the Kivus to work did I realize the centrality of this information and history, to our overstretched and swamped peacekeeping and peacemaking efforts on the ground today. The information in this book helped to a great extent to put into context, the wild and crazy situation of conflict, politics and hatred that affected the whole region, particularly North and South Kivu and Province Orientale (Kisangani). But it also shed light on the intricate web of relationships between the various original armed groups, the former genocidaires now called the FDLR, and the political leadership in the Eastern region and at the national level. The style of writing is wonderful but weighed down by the onus of telling his own version of what Prunier sees as the truth, something that I personally agree with. I recommend reading this book for those that wish to further investigate the complexities of this region and particularly of the two countries mentioned in the title. Indispensable reading for those that are anchored in Congo but not native. A Five star book!
Categories: Book Reviews