The Rwanda Myth

Tom Zoellner in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

In the view of most historians, the original sin of Rwanda came from the colonial policy of making artificial ethnic distinctions through a caste-like system. Belgian administrators deemed those who were taller and herded cattle, the Tutsis, to be smarter than the Hutu, who were generally shorter and raised crops. So one group got all the privileges of helping the Belgians extract coffee and animal hides and were treated as sub-royals, while their countrymen were deemed slow and stupid. The story was fixed; the Goods and Bads had been preselected, and the inevitable resentments would explode in the 1994 genocide.

Today Rwanda is held up as a shining example of African progress, with a kitchen-clean capital, a booming economy, and a firm lid on internal violence. But in her explosive and devastatingly convincing new book, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, Michela Wrong contends that this is a result of the original sin coming home to roost once more. Western journalists and governments have selected their good guy in dictator Paul Kagame while ignoring his appalling human rights abuses, targeted assassinations, exported violence, and offenses against the rule of law that would be condemned anyplace else.

More here.