Looking back while moving forward in the Great Lakes Region

his article in the Wall Street Journal of February 13, 2009, Mart
Laar, former Prime Minister of Estonia, observed that “It is said
that the only thing that people learn from history is that people
learn nothing from history”. It seems that people in the Great
Lakes Region of Africa have learned nothing from the region’s

to attempt to solve the current formidable political economy
challenges in the region one has to study and draw lessons from the
history of the region if not the history of the entire continent.
According to Marq de Villiers and Sheila Hirtle (1997), “More than
anywhere else, in Africa [and particularly in the Great Lakes
Region], the past poisons the present”.

this background, delving in the racial and ethnic history of the
Great Lakes Region – Burundi, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC), Rwanda and South West Uganda – should be welcome and not
condemned and dismissed right away as an exercise in sectarianism and