Surviving the Slaughter is a powerful narrative that takes us into one of the many tragedies of the African Great Lakes region that affected tens of thousands of helpless Rwandan civilians in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide inside Rwanda. Through the eyes of an ordinary, but also remarkable, woman, we learn the horrifying details of the ordeals that Rwandan refugees in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) went through after their camps were destroyed manu militari. The value of this book goes beyond that of a simple narrative. As we read it, we are absorbed by an account of a breathtaking and excruciating journey of tens of thousands of people as they are hunted down in the dense rainforests of the Congo. At the core of this account is one woman's protest against the absurdity of mass violence and the inhuman brutality of military regimes.
At first glance, the book stands out as a strong stand against the corrosive tradition of silence that often accompanies gross violations of human rights, especially those unfolding beyond the scrutiny of the major world media. In a simple but engaging style, Umutesi strips off the usual veneer of reserve that characterizes Rwandans in general and Rwandan women in particular. Rwandans don't usually talk about their experiences, let alone write about them. And writing about the plight of people whom the world has often considered pariahs since the 1994 genocide requires a strong personality.