Sunday, November 10, 2013

J .J. Carney's "Rwanda Before the Genocide"

J.J. Carney is Assistant Professor of Theology at Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska. His research and teaching interests engage the theological and historical dimensions of the Catholic experience in modern Africa.

Carney applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Rwanda Before the Genocide: Catholic Politics and Ethnic Discourse in the Late Colonial Era, and reported the following:
To be honest, I had never heard of Ford Madox Ford's page 99 test, but it was surprisingly accurate for Rwanda Before the Genocide. Namely, page 99 brings you right into the heart of the long-running controversy surrounding Catholic leaders, ethnic discourse, and Rwandan politics. You encounter Mgr. Andre Perraudin, a Swiss Catholic missionary bishop and future bete noire for the Tutsi exile community. More importantly, you encounter Perraudin's most famous writing, his pastoral letter "Super Omnia Caritas" released in February 1959. This pastoral letter explicitly and exclusively linked late colonial social injustice with Hutu and Tutsi categories, establishing Perraudin's reputation as a pro-Hutu partisan. Perraudin later called this statement the "charter of my episcopate" even as he denied that it contributed to the political climate that helped precipitate revolutionary violence in November 1959. In showing the analytical difference between Perraudin and Rwanda's other Catholic bishop at the time, Mgr. Aloys Bigirumwami, page 99 reminds us that social description lay at the heart of Rwanda's late colonial disputes. Namely, the church may stand for "justice for the poor," but the key issue is how the church understands and defines "justice" and "the poor." In Rwanda many political and religious leaders chose to define "the poor" as "Hutu," helping to establish a dangerous ideological justification for revolutionary anti-Tutsi violence. Such discourse helps to explain why many (if not all) Catholic leaders stood by Rwanda's post-colonial Hutu governments even in the midst of major anti-Tutsi massacres in 1964, 1973, and the early 1990s.
Read more about Rwanda Before the Genocide at the Oxford University Press website.

Writers Read: J.J. Carney.

--Marshal Zeringue