Saturday, 31 December 2016

Guns Over Kigali - Henry Kwami Anyidoho

Title: Guns Over Kigali
Author: Henry Kwami Anyidoho
ISBN: 9970-02-143-5
Publisher: Foundation Publishing
Year: 1998
Pages: 131
Photos/ Maps: 34/4

This book is a rendition of the author’s experiences as Deputy Force Commander and Chief of Staff for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) during the period of the Rwandan Genocide April – July 1994. Brig Anyidoho kept an extensive diary throughout his time with UNAMIR and drew upon these notes and his recollections to draft this treatise on his experiences and to provide a series of lessons learned from the disaster. The accuracy of his observations and recommendations and their relevance to future UN peacekeeping missions was confirmed when many of them were included in the Brahimi Report of 2000 which saw a fundamental overhaul of the UN support and operational ethos.

The author was intimately involved in the period leading up to the civil war and was present throughout the fighting. As such, he was either personally involved or privy to the myriad of challenges relating to negotiations and interactions with Rwandan forces (both Hutu and Tutsi), the international community as well as the UN itself. His insights into the bureaucracies, trials and idiosyncrasies of these organizations and their public and private agendas are extremely enlightening.

Throughout his account, the author comments upon the strengths and weaknesses of the UN system in particular, both logistically and operationally. His views are based on hard operational experience and, being noted at the time of observation, are astute and germane. While it is obvious that he was frustrated by what he perceived as inefficiencies, his approach is not one of blame but of a genuine desire to see the system improved.

He includes in his work an introduction to the causes and history of the Rwandan Crisis, a specific series of recommendations relating to national level command preparation and training, the UN and its policies (politically, operationally and logistically) and the shortcomings in the reactions/capabilities of the Organization of African Unity (precursor to the African Union) and how these may be addressed. Additionally, his work incorporates lessons learned throughout the narrative itself.

Anyidoho is passionate about ensuring that the experiences that he, UNAMIR and the Rwandan people underwent, not be repeated. While many of the lessons and observations that he passes on have been looked at, not all have been effectively addressed. This work is critical reading for those preparing for operations within a UN mission in the African Continent. While much has improved since the days of UNAMIR, there is much that has remained the same and this book provides the reader with an outstanding baseline into UN, African and multinational operational challenges.

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