This project, nursed along as my work on the book progressed, came to fruition unexpectedly. The usual wisdom is that, for greater circulation and impact, an English translation has to take priority. Perhaps so, but I was motivated by other concerns.
This book, even more so than the ones that came before it, came into being thanks to innumerable contributions (documents, information, contacts, critical commentary, and proof-reading, etc.) from a great many Rwandans of diverse background and status, from every commune and prefecture, and regardless of their political leaning, some activist, others not.
During our various encounters, I had always promised to report back to my sources about how their respective contributions were actually put to use. Over the course of this extended research and writing project, many of them told me how difficult it was for them to have access to this work, especially in Rwanda. For this reason, I had long since resolved that a freely accessible Kinyarwanda translation would be the most genuine gesture of thanks and homage to those who know in their hearts, and often in their flesh, the costs of bearing witness, and who still try to tell the truth, yesterday as today, with the words and subtleties of their own language.
Ever since the book and its annexes first appeared on a dedicated website, readers have often remarked how much they seem to have been composed with an eye for the current “Rwandan situation”. Even if many find the reading a bit challenging, most have appreciated the foray in unfamiliar terrain and have even discovered a few hitherto unknown episodes in Rwandan political life.
Surprisingly, the huge undertaking of assembling a compendium of hundreds of documents, literally thousands of pages, to support the various analyses and arguments developed in the book has achieved astounding success, generating more than 70,000 hits in a single year. The interest for the most densely detailed parts of the work, the documentary “proof”, clearly demonstrates a thirst for first-hand reporting and for direct access to raw documentation, especially in Kinyarwanda, despite the considerable efforts required to consult them and, even more so, to fully appreciate their contents. This striving for knowledge and understanding is commensurate with the trauma that was suffered, and Rwandans are the principal stakeholders.
In short order, the preparation of a Kinyarwanda translation that would be freely accessible to Rwandan readers was quickly undertaken by competent and enthusiastic translators. It can be consulted in links which correspond to the various chapters of the book and can be easily down-loaded.
As can be expected, however, the translators encountered substantial difficulties. The mere scale of the publication was particularly challenging, considering that the original French text benefited from numerous, meticulous proofings and editing given its sensitive subject matter.
Under the direction of Noel Twagiramungu of the Institute of Human Security at Tufts University, the team of translators included Rwandan specialists, both Francophone and Anglophone, Rukiga and Nduga, Hutu and Tutsi, who were able to meld their various competencies and linguistic gifts. The resulting text was then reviewed by a dozen others during a collective seminar, as well as by several additional external readers. Among those who have accepted to have their contributions recognized are :
Nonetheless, this translation cannot claim to have surmounted every obstacle. The principal constraint is the obligation to be faithful to an original text that is often quite dense (with very specific terminology and well-honed formulations for which there are no standard Kinyarwanda equivalents, and frequent long sentences), coupled with the objective of presenting a text that is accessible to a broad public.
Inevitably, recourse to paraphrasing runs the risk of only partially rendering the original meaning. For this reason, reliance on expressions and words that are not particularly current seemed the best means of remaining close to the original text. But only the French language documents bind the author.
The readers will be the final judges and are warmly invited to share their observations and remarks by e-mail to this website.
At this stage, Noel Twagiramungu and I wish to heartily thank all of those who have contributed in various degrees to the tedious and complex work of translating this original French publication into Kinyarwanda. We would also like to thank the many anonymous readers who have graciously shared their opinions and their observations.