Title: Rat Roads
Subtitle: One man's incredible journey
Author: Jacques Pauw
Publisher: Randomhouse Struik
Imprint: Zebra Press
Cape Town, South Africa 2012
ISBN 9781770223370 / ISBN 978-1-77022-337-0
Softcover, 15 x 23 cm, 320 pages, several colour photographs
Since witnessing the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, Jacques Pauw has been obsessed with the events and people in that country. The South African journalist went back again and again and wolfed down book after book about the once godforsaken place that was elevated to screaming headlines courtesy of the massacre of 800000 people in the autumn of 1994. Most of these books focused on the horrible demise of the victims, the torment of the survivors and the cruelty of the genocidaires. He always felt that there was another story to tell; the chronicle of just one person, not necessarily a perpetrator who had wielded a machete or a survivor who had no family left or a journalist on a voyeuristic quest, but just someone with a personal story to tell. Then Kennedy Gihana drifted into his life, seventeen years after the slaughter.
He listened to him for a few hours at the beginning of 2011 and, before the summer sun had sunk into Pretoria's skyline, he knew he wanted to write this book, Rat Roads. It was in many ways the story he'd been waiting for. Not only did his spell-binding narrative encompass Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and South Africa, but it was a story of hope, survival and perseverance, speckled with the weakness, malice and goodness of mankind. What followed was one of the most inspiring but also challenging endeavours of Jacques Pauw's professional life. It was not, however, a quest I would have forgone for anything. It has left him much wiser and more insightful about the human psyche. Rat Roads is a searing story of hardship and survival, and an unforgettable tale of courage and triumph.