The Shadow of Imana: Travels in the Heart of Rwanda (African Writers Series)
As evidence emerged of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, the outside world reeled in shock. What could have motivated these individual and collective acts of evil? In 1998 Véronique Tadjo travelled to Rwanda to try to find out. She started with the premise that what happened in Rwanda concerns us all. It is a reminder that humankind the world over is capable of genocide.
Records of what the author saw — sites of massacres, corpses, weapons dumps — are combined with personal stories of traumatised returnees, bereaved survivors, rape victims, orphans, lawyers faced with the impossible task of doing justice, prisoners. But The Shadow of Imana goes beyond reportage. With passages savouring of poetry and traditional tales, Tadjo explores the spiritual legacy of the genocide and uncovers a healing vitality and a commitment to forgiveness.
Translated from the French by Veronique Wakerley.
Véronique Tadjo (born 1955) is a writer, poet, novelist, and artist from Côte d'Ivoire. Having lived and worked in many countries within the African continent and diaspora, she feels herself to be pan-African, in a way that is reflected in the subject matter, imagery and allusions of her work.
Born in Paris, Véronique Tadjo was the daughter of an Ivorian civil servant and a French painter and sculptor. Brought up in Abidjan, she travelled widely with her family.
Tadjo completed her BA degree at the University of Abidjan and her doctorate at the Sorbonne in African-American Literature and Civilization. In 1983, she went to Howard University in Washington, D.C., on a Fulbright research scholarship.
In 1979, Tadjo chose to teach English at the Lycée Moderne de Korhogo (secondary school) in the North of Côte d'Ivoire. She subsequently became a lecturer at the English department of the University of Abidjan until 1993.
In the past few years, she has facilitated workshops in writing and illustrating children's books in Mali, Benin, Chad, Haiti, Mauritius, French Guyana, Burundi, Rwanda and South Africa.
She has lived in Paris, Lagos, Mexico City, Nairobi and London. Tadjo is currently based in Johannesburg, where since 2007 she has been head of French Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Tadjo received the Literary Prize of L'Agence de Cooperation Culturelle et Technique in 1983 and the UNICEF Prize in 1993 for Mamy Wata and the Monster, which was also chosen as one of Africa's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century, one of only four children's books selected. In 2005, Tadjo won the Grand prix littéraire d'Afrique noire.