www.mybaycity.com April 3, 2011
Arts/Theater Article 05827

Causes of Revolutions in African Countries Addressed by Speaker at CMU

We Need to Care How These Uprisings Affect Us, Says French Historian

April 3, 2011
By: Dave Rogers

The series of revolutions striking African countries are the biggest thing that happened since the fall of Communism and the conflicts are far from being over.

A revolution is nothing more than ordinary people who would rather die than go on living the way they are. All these troubles come basically from political issues.

Those are conclusions of Gérard Prunier, a French historian specializing in the Horn of Africa as well as Central and East Africa, who spoke last week at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant.

Prunier discussed revolutions in Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain and others, blaming extreme poverty for much of the unrest. "In Egypt, about 70 percent of the population lives on $2 a day. And they think everybody in America has a mansion and six cars."

"We're living through a period of extraordinary historical transformation for the past two months," Prunier said. So I don't have any message. I'm going to try to explain why this is happening and what are the modalities according to which it happens."

Prunier's message deals specifically with how places like Libya and Egypt affect the U.S.

"They are not exactly lost somewhere in the jungle, they are in a key segment of this world and their transformation matters," he said. "If you don't care it is going to take care of you."

Prunier was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France and holds both French and Canadian citizenship. His degrees include a B.A. in Political Science, École Libre des Sciences Politiques (1966); B.A. in Sociology, University of Nanterre (1969); and, a Ph.D. in African Studies, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, University of Paris (1982).

He has published more than 170 articles and six books, including "The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide," "Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide" (2005), and "From Genocide to Continental War: The 'Congolese' Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa" (2009). He holds bachelor's degrees in Political Science and Sociology and a Ph.D. in African History.

He has written extensively about Africa with a special focus on Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda. His many books and articles have been translated into English, French, and German.

Jeffrey Gettleman, East Africa Bureau Chief, New York Times, writes of Prunier's latest book on Rwanda: "No one comes out a hero in this book, neither the guilt-ridden United States nor the pusillanimous United Nations, and definitely not the French, whom Prunier blames for enabling the génocidaires. But that, to Prunier, is old news. His sharpest barbs are reserved for Rwanda's current leaders, who in his pages lie, betray, plunder and kill, massacring tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, in vicious revenge attacks. He even asserts that Rwandan death squads were reputed to carry special little cobbler's hammers in their backpacks to ?silently and efficiently smash skulls." ###

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