by Linda Melvern, Scottish Review
‘Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad’ by Michela Wrong (published by 4th Estate London, 2021)
‘Of all the liars in Africa,’ wrote the English colonialist Ewart Grogan after visiting in 1899, ‘I believe the people of Rwanda are by far the most thorough’. Grogan’s appalling quote is used in the introduction to Michela Wrong’s book, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad. Not much has changed, the author believes. Rwandans are always telling her how mendacious they are: the country ‘glories in its impenetrability’ and ‘sees virtue in misleading’, Rwandan children are encouraged to develop the quality of deception. Michela Wrong admits that such a society poses a ‘bit of a challenge’ for a non-fiction author.
The offensive paragraphs are reminiscent of the racism of Hutu Power, of the hate propaganda that portrayed Tutsi as natural-born liars, a part of the ideology that underpinned the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi. This is not a book ‘about a genocide’, we are told, but a story of a group of exiled Rwandan fugitives, a ‘small, tight-knit elite’. They seem to have been brought together by their loathing of the government of Rwanda and its President Paul Kagame – a sentiment the author shares.