The Congo Wars, Ambiguous in Ideology yet Clear in Slaughter; A brief review of Jason K. Stearns “Dancing in the Glory of Monsters”

This was the first book I have ever read upon the topic of the Congo wars and to be completely honest I had absolutely no idea of the violence prior to this text. I also was completely unaware of Jason Stearns involvement in the research of the central African conflicts as well as being a part of the humanitarian efforts involved. It was a combination of these two things that left me totally enveloped in Stearns work. Not a single event analyzed aside from the Rwandan genocide and the brief references to Hannah Arendt were of any significant memory to me. I had always know that After the Rwandan conflict there was violence in the region but I had no idea of the massive proportions of its extent. Even the term “violence” almost seems childish as Stearns (at least in my opinion) quite intensively conveys the scope of the massacres, starvation, pestilence and destitution felt by all peoples in the region from military commanders fallen from prominence to survivors of killing en masse. In an exceedingly well balanced way he would reiterate the history of a particular region in central Africa, explain the context of the violence that occurred then digs into the minds of the perpetrators in order to find how as Stearns would characterize it “a family man to become a mass murderer”. Throughout his work I felt little to no bias as he took apart his sources and interviews. However; he is also no proponent of anything that would minimize the extent or significance of the Congo conflict. Stearns does not particularly name a singularity as responsible for the Congo war.Rather as a part of his thesis he concludes that among the most powerful reasoning why the war was not recognized was simply because it was not orchestrated by a pseudo-governmental structure hidden behind the guise of ignorance. It was carried out by the numerous political factions dividing the Congo as well as the seedlings of hate produced throughout the Congo in even its smallest of communities. Congo’s long history of violence, its being the focus of imperialist goals, and the deeply rooted tradition of socially approved hatred are only but the upper crust of Stearns focus but indeed are legitimately his primary conclusions for the horrors that were passed on to him by for of documentation and primary sources. I found Stearns personal involvement in central Africa to be of a most note worthy appreciation. For to be even able to gather such information as he has from all walks of African life without being barred off by African prejudice of Westerners (rightly deserved opinion mind you) is a feat of great achievement. Though even Stearns himself admits he may never be able to feel the pain of those he had interviewed I believe it safe to assume that his work is more than just a surface for the conflict but also an exceedingly well constructed text regarding the topic at hand. I like to think that it is reads like this that truly create a frame for such an under toned event for Western observers but a world war level event for the peoples of Central Africa.

The Paths Taken By the AFDL

The Paths Taken By the AFDL

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