Drink the Bitter Root: A Search for Justice and Healing in Africa

Gary Geddes. Counterpoint (PGW, dist.), $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-58243-788-0
In his latest travelogue, Geddes (Sailing Home) takes us on a dizzying spin through five sub-Saharan countries, asking why the international justice system and foreign aid have failed to bring peace to the region. Beginning in Rwanda and zigzagging through nearby Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Somaliland, Geddes encounters similar problems: poverty, sexual violence, genocide, kidnappings, and government oppression. In his search for answers, Geddes attends a hearing by the Gacaca (a traditional Rwandan court), meets an official from the International Criminal Court, and interviews child soldiers and rape and mutilation survivors, trying to probe the gap between the noble aims of international justice and aid organizations and the harsh reality of corrupt regimes, interminable bureaucracy, and foreign corporations exploiting ethnic conflicts in their resource grab. Although the book provides an overview of the region’s morass of internecine feuds, it lacks the historical context that would allow a real sense of the conflicts to emerge. Still, when Geddes reflects on “awkwardly elegant” camels crossing a desert road, a church piled with bodies, or a pair of AK-47s lying barrels crossed on the sand as their owners splash in the surf, these moments glow with the stark beauty and ugliness of rich, though poverty-stricken, lands. Agent: Don Sedgwick, Transatlantic Literary Agency (Canada). (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/2011
Release date: 12/01/2011
Open Ebook - 241 pages - 978-1-61902-031-3
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-55365-969-3
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