Between Indignant Cartoons and Comic Satire: Representations of the Rwandan Genocide in Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda

  • Khatija Bibi Khan Department of Communication Science, University of South Africa
Keywords: Cartoons, graphic novel, Rwandan genocide, literature and literary genres, narratives


The question of how to represent the weighty subject of genocide in Africa’s popular cultural and literary genres without minimising, distorting or romanticising this emotive subject has taken centre stage in African scholarship. The problematics of this representation are projected in theoretical arguments that insist that the creative imagination stylises narratives of genocide and in the process gratuitously sanitises the pain that flows from the harm of genocide. Although this argument has merit to the extent that language is the only cultural resource through which humanity can register its agonistic experiences, there is no escaping the reality of preserving the memories of pain through the language of invention. In recognition of these paradoxes, this article seeks to critically interrogate what cartoons and comic strips do to the pain arising from genocide. This article uses the genre of the graphic novel/cartoon tale/cartoon novella as represented in Stassen’s work titled Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda to suggest that it is perhaps liberating to multiply cultural sites from which the subject of genocide can be debated.