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339 Chapter 14 The Rhetoric of Genocide in Africa: Memory and Trauma in Three Selected Literary Works Moussa Traoré Introduction The later part of the twentieth century has been marked by an upsurge of socio-political strife and instabilities on the African continent. Cases in point include the genocide that took place in Rwanda, the civil wars that ravaged Liberia and Sierra Leone as well as several political instabilities that occurred in Togo and other African countries. Concerns generated by the gory effects of conflicts resulting from these situations serve as literary raw materials for many West African writers from the mid 1980s – when the civil war broke out in Liberia – till today. Considering the serious nature of these conflicts as captured the literary works referred to above, this chapter seeks to critically examine the rhetoric on conflict in three selected memoirs. The study examines the use of political rhetoric, with specific emphasis on Language, Memory and Trauma in three of these works: Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s memoir Coming Back from the Brink in Sierra Leone (2010), Ismael Beah’s A Long Way Gone: The True Story of a Child Soldier (2007) and Véronique Tadjo’s The shadow of Imana: Travels in the Heart of Rwanda (2002). The chapter explores how the three selected authors use language in their accounts to expose the horrendous conflicts that mine the African continent and their socio-political bearing on sustainable development. The chapter is a textual analysis of those three memoirs. The chapter attempts a careful examination of the issue of memory and trauma, using a method which combines literary analysis with language theories. This chapter, therefore, examines the rhetoric of genocide, using the aforementioned three memoirs as primary sources. Adding to that, the chapter demonstrates how social reality is constructed through 340 textual discourse in those aforementioned works. The two theoretical frameworks underpinning this study are Teun A van Dijk’s principle of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), and Jonathan Charteris-Black’s theory of “Metaphor and Political Communication”. That said, the present chapter points to ways in which language can be used to create and preserve a pacific and flourishing Africa, devoid of the sorrowful stereotypes which are latent seeds of civil strife. Socio-political instabilities in Africa at the end of the 20th Century In Africa, as the twentieth century was coming to an end, tumultuous and sometimes horrendous events began to unfold. The first wave of such turmoils can be traced to the “sommet de la Baule” held on June 20th 1990 , which brought together African heads of States and the then French President François Mitterrand in La Baule Escoublac (France). At this meeting France and most former colonial masters lobbied for the adoption of the concept of democracy by African states basing on the premises that democracy is a “sinequanon for development.” As a way of coercing African countries to adopt their unilateral stance, they categorically proclaimed that any country which will not incorporate democracy and multiparty political systems will be considered as an enemy of the West. To exacerbate matters, only those countries who were willing to buy in this postcolonial hegemony will continue receiving “aid” and “loans” from Europe and America (Kroslak, 2004). In other words, countries that had not adopted the envisaged “new” political system would not benefit from any donor support or any loan from institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF. As a result, most African countries embraced this nefarious concept in their systems of governance and started to dance to the whims of the West. Consequently, some of the leaders who had been in power for decades sensing the irresistible force of this inevitable movement decided to declare themselves democratic leaders. In most of the instances, the leaders agreed that elections be organized and in the process stood as candidates. Several examples can be 341 cited at this level: In Ghana, Togo and Burkina Faso just to mention a few, military rulers declared themselves civilians and stood for elections and won with a large majority in most cases. That was not pleasant to politically conscious citizens. For instance, in French speaking Africa, citizens insisted on what was termed “Conférences Nationales Souveraines” (National Sovereign Conferences) which they thought would reveal the dictatorship and corruption that had reigned for years before free and fair elections could be organized. That happened in Togo and did not yield any fruitful result and the same applies to Burkina. So the pre-democratic era...


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