A survivor recounts untold atrocities in Africa.
First-time author Kimani knows pain, both on a personal level and as a journalist covering political events in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In fact, she notes, covering Rwanda from 1999 to 2005 left her â€œgutted. Listening to the survivors of the war and genocide, as well as the perpetrators of the terrible crimes committed during this period, forced upon me terrible questions, all starting with why and ending with no answers.” Interestingly, though, what follows in this brief account is not the detailed litany of personal or recorded tragedies one might expect from a writer employed to recount fact, but the more abstract reflections of a poet-philosopher trying to come to grips with such tragic stories. Kimani does allow some of the horror to seep through with graphic clarity–particularly when discussing gang rape or the wounded being left to die in pit latrines–but mostly she expresses her realizations regarding what it means to be a survivor: â€œYou become aware of the complexity of life, how love and hatred, life and death, fragility and tenaciousness somehow exist as part of the same event, same being, same person, whether victim or perpetrator. This is the reality of having survived war, violence, loss, and personal tragedy; it is a reality that any survivor anywhere in the world knows and shares and can understand. It is the reason they don’t forget.” Equal parts poetry and short prose passages, this powerful testament to overcoming seemingly insurmountable trauma wavers between introspection and philosophical contemplation, ultimately making for a work that doesn’t quite cohere in the telling–a fact that perhaps offers the greatest evidence of the fractured nature of survival that the author reveals.
A fascinating account of what it truly means to bear witness.