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‘Regardez la vie reprendre’: Futurity in Véronique Tadjo’s <i>L’Ombre d’Imana / The Shadow of Imana</i>

R West-Pavlov


In this essay, I review a series of binaries that are examined by Véronique Tadjo’s recent narrative about Rwanda and its 1994 genocide, L’Ombre d’Imana (2000, Engl. trans. The Shadow of Imana, 2002), and doubly blurred. These binaries (inside/out, here/there, past/future) and envisaged from two points of view. They are situated first in the dreadful zones of biopolitical indistinction in which the law legalizes its own suspension and renders legal atrocities normally outside the realm of the permissible; and they are re-envisaged in a movement which “turns inside out” (Esposito) these indistinctions to assert an unbroken fabric of life, human or otherwise, which resists even the perversions of the extreme manifestation of biopolitics evinced by genocide. This article shifts its focus away from the customary topic of the relationship between genocide and representation, towards issue of genocide and biopolitics, and to a form of semiois that does not merely “mean”, but makes life (continue to) happen. Rwanda may stand, emblematically, for the stamping out of life on the continent, for the existential negativity that African often emblematizes in the global imaginary; by contrast, Tadjo, in her reading of Rwanda, poses to the African continent, not a rhetorical question but a fundamental ontological and existential enquiry: “Comment envisager le futur ici? Quel futur?” (Tadjo 125, “How can you envisage the future here? What future?”)

Keywords: Rwanda, genocide, immunity, translation, life, futurity.