After the Genocide: A Book Review of The Scattering by Lauri Kubuitsile
There is little historical fiction addressing any genocide in Africa, but genocides took place.
There are even fewer books about what comes after a genocide in Africa.
While The Scattering by Lauri Kubuitsile addresses the genocide of the Herero in what is now Namibia, it also delves into the after – and what comes after the genocide may be the most bittersweet of all. Nor is the Herero genocide the only backdrop in this story – which is less about labeling good and evil and more about showing how both good and evil can present itself in anyone using the colonial wars in southern Africa at the dawn of the twentieth century as its vehicle.
Tjipuka and Ruhapo were married, and their future was bright, when General von Trotha issued his infamous order that resulted in the decimation of the Herero people. The Germans occupying what is now Namibia shot Herero, poisoned waterholes in the desert, and imprisoned Herero and Namaqua people in bleak concentration camps.
Woven throughout the story of Tjipuka and Ruhapo is the story of Riette, who becomes caught up in the Second Boer War and finds herself in a British Concentration Camp.
Two women living through the events of their time, rather than the men leading the events, form the core of this book. And it makes a powerful testament of what those with the least power in society experience; during a genocide, and after. The answers are not obvious or easy, and history often doesn’t do an adequate job of showing the shades of gray in between the stark black and white of events.
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- February 24, 2021