It was also as a consequence of the identity cards handed out by the Belgium government that these two separate identities were even created. These differences were implanted onto them, allowing them to create these different ethnic identities based on the racial differences seen by their colonizers. Gourevitch credits this along with the relationship with the French as being the leading cause in the act of genocide. Because these two nations were at odds with one another, their feud spilled through to the Rwandan people, aiding in the creation of the ethnic tension between the Hutus and the Tutsis. Gourevitch also describes genocide as being a way to build a community, a way to confront one another with the goal of resolution in the end. Although sarcasm is used, the point is still the same: the lack of assistance from outside nations was overwhelming.

The United Nations held onto their hands-off approach. Despite the belief in solidarity, the United Nations, with the United States included, did nothing to stop the Rwandan genocide from occurring. Other countries knew what was taking place, yet absolutely nothing was done to attempt a peaceful resolution. No other nation aided the Tutsis in what were clearly genocidal acts against them. According to Gourevitch, France in fact aided the start of the genocide by providing the Hutus with supplies and weapons and practically governmental discretion to what they were doing to the Tutsis. The lack of financial interest in the Rwandan nation led many Western governments to ignore the situation. By not fully acknowledging the fact that this was occurring, these governments were able to excuse themselves for not intervening in the clear cleansing of an entire population. Gourevitch accuses the United Nations of being ambivalent to the situation. Instead of attempting to create peace and provide much needed diplomatic assistance, they did nothing because the events were not directly affecting them. The ethnic, religious, racial, and national identities of these people were given to them by the European colonists, and their continued use eventually led to the genocide.

Identity was the biggest factor in the Rwandan genocide. Gourevitch makes it a point to mention this numerous times throughout his book. He points out that being a member, or even being perceived as being a member of a particular group, is what essentially led some to be killed while others were doing the killing. The Hutus and the Tutsis were essentially one people that through years of diplomatic and political discourse got placed in the middle of foreign feuds. However, their perceived identity differences led them to go head to head with each other. Gourevitch ends his book by reinforcing the idea that ethnic identification was crucial throughout the entire ordeal. His book places full blame on the inept job that other nations did during this time. All of his encounters with Rwandans, of any ethnic tribe, gave him the impression that these people were just lead by the drastic and extreme ideals of a few. Their perceived identities fueled the hatred toward one another, but at the end of the day, many of the Rwandan people disagree and are ashamed of what happened in 1994 -- Gourevitch makes this notion quite clear. The ending to the book summed up his belief in identity being the root cause of the genocide. He depicts the story of a group of Hutu girls who refused to acknowledge their identity; they did not want to tell the Hutu soldiers who approached them whether they were Tutsis or Hutus -- they were then killed. Gourevitch acknowledges this moment as one where they could have lived, but instead chose to die for a cause: their identity. Ending the book this way allows readers to have a long-lasting impression about the true horrors experienced in Rwanda.


Gourevitch, Philip. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda. New York: Farrar, Straus,…