Brief Thoughts: Road Trip Rwanda by Will Ferguson

  • Road Trip Rwanda by Will Ferguson
  • ★★★★
  • Will Ferguson writes fiction and non-fiction, but I most enjoy his travel writing. His book, Hitching Rides with Buddha, probably had the biggest influence on my interest in Japan in that it really got me interested in the country at a time when I was just starting to watch anime and read manga.
  • Not just a history of Rwanda, but Ferguson gives a solid foundational context for those of us who don’t really know much about the genocide. He provides recommended reading for topics where one might want to learn more. I especially appreciated the global context in which he placed Rwanda – that is, within its history of colonialism and relationships with foreign powers such as France and Belgium. He’s careful to explore the genocide through these lenses, rather than simplifying the issue to ‘Africans killing Africans for the sake of it’. Ferguson’s trip also functions as an exploration of how the country has evolved (especially in positive ways in areas such as economy and safety) since the genocide.  
  • Also not just a white guy travelling around. Ferguson’s strong friendship with his travelling companion, Jean-Claude Munyezamu (a Rwandan who escaped the country shortly before the genocide began), adds a personal depth and reality to the journey. Munyezamu isn’t just a guide taking Ferguson around the country. Munyezamu’s story forms an integral part of this book.
  • Fergson touches upon the issues with current President Kagame’s rule. At the time of writing, he noted that Kagame’s term limits were coming up and he wondered how Kagame might deal with that. A news headline from yesterday: “Rwanda votes to give President Paul Kagame right to rule until 2034“. That doesn’t bode well…