Nothing tells the story of a national crisis like the individual voice. In his book, Murambi, the Book of Bones, Senegalese author, Prof. Boubacar Boris Diop, tells the tale of a war-torn Rwanda from peculiar eyes. The lines between facts and fiction are blurred to give an understanding that the records will not give, so that readers are, probably for the first time, able to contemplate the events from more than one angle.
On the eve of April 6, 1994, a Tutsi businessman, Michel Serumundo, returns home to his family, as unbeknownst to him, Rwanda is descending into chaos. Though Diop does not make Michel’s fate clear, it is unlikely that he survives the events that follow. On the other side of the imminent crisis, another family man, Faustin Gasana, contemplates the endeavors to come. He is a Hutu, and will be one of the many participants in the genocide. By describing the chilling contrast between Faustin’s relationship with his family, and his resolve to destroy so many other families, Diop draws the reader’s attention to the double-edged sword that is conflict, giving voice to both victim and villain.
The reader is taken on a journey through time to meet the central character of the story, Cornelius Uvimana, a Rwandan history teacher, who is exiled, but returns to his homeland four years after the genocide. Through Cornelius, Diop offers the readers a perspective of one on the outside looking in, and also, in a way, places himself in the story, as the character returned to Rwanda at around the same time Diop did.