Between remembering and forgetting: (In)visible Rwanda in Gilbert Gatore's Le Passé devant soi

Nicki Hitchcott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Since the genocide in 1994, very little fiction has been produced by authors from Rwanda. Of the small number of literary works that have emerged, the majority reveal a marked preoccupation with remembering and recording the "facts" about the genocide. These texts generally take the form of first-person witness accounts or testimonial fiction. The emphasis on commemoration, encapsulated in the now well-documented literary mission "Rwanda: Ecrire par devoir de mémoire" 'Rwanda: Writing as a Duty to Remember,' has been reflected inside Rwanda in the genocide memorials that have been constructed since 1994. At the same time, however, the Rwandan government's campaign for reconciliation has generated a national discourse of forgiveness and forgetting, which leaves genocide survivors in a difficult place, torn between the (often involuntary) impulse to remember and the duty to forget. This article will read Rwandan refugee author Gilbert Gatore's 2008 novel, Le Passé devant soi (The Past Ahead), as a fictional exploration of the survivors' dilemma. It will suggest that what emerges as the conspicuous absence of Rwanda in Gatore's text reflects the tension between remembering and forgetting that characterizes postgenocide Rwandan society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-90
Number of pages12
JournalResearch in African Literatures
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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