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Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust Paperback – January 6, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In 1994, Rwandan native Ilibagiza was 22 years old and home from college to spend Easter with her devout Catholic family, when the death of Rwanda's Hutu president sparked a three-month slaughter of nearly one million ethnic Tutsis in the country. She survived by hiding in a Hutu pastor's tiny bathroom with seven other starving women for 91 cramped, terrifying days. This searing firsthand account of Ilibagiza's experience cuts two ways: her description of the evil that was perpetrated, including the brutal murders of her family members, is soul-numbingly devastating, yet the story of her unquenchable faith and connection to God throughout the ordeal uplifts and inspires. Her account of the miracles that protected her is simple and vivid. Her Catholic faith shines through, but the book will speak on a deep level to any person of faith. Ilibagiza's remarkable path to forgiving the perpetrators and releasing her anger is a beacon to others who have suffered injustice. She brings the battlefield between good and evil out of the genocide around her and into her own heart, mind and soul. This book is a precious addition to the literature that tries to make sense of humankind's seemingly bottomless depravity and counterbalancing hope in an all-powerful, loving God. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
About the Author
Immaculée Ilibagiza was born in Rwanda and studied electronic and mechanical engineering at the National University. She lost most of her family during the 1994 genocide. Four years later, she emigrated to the United States and began working at the United Nations in New York City. She is now a full-time public speaker and writer. In 2007 she established the Left to Tell Charitable Fund, which helps support Rwandan orphans.
Immaculée holds honorary doctoral degrees from The University of Notre Dame and Saint John’s University, and was awarded The Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace 2007. She is the author, with Steve Erwin, of LEFT TO TELL: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust.
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Top Customer Reviews
Her family was well known for their kindness. They were catholics who prayed together and who lived as true christians in every sense of the word. For instance, when Immaculee was finally made safe in a French army base, she heard the laughing of another Tutsi survivor. The woman laughed because of the sheer delight of being alive. The woman looked at Immaculee and told her she had the face of her mother, the face of her father. Immaculee did not know the woman. The woman told her that she had been supported in her education by her mother, who had heard of her scholarship and gave to her mother so she could continue in school. Year after year Immaculee’s mother sent the money to help the young student. The woman said that Immaculee’s mother was truely a saint. She said that she had promised God that she would do anything for that family if she ever could. She ended up taking fifteen Tutsi survivors in her own home.
Immaculee, later forgave the man who lead the murderers in her own tiny town. Why? He had always been very well dressed and always acted as a friend of the family. She saw him now as a pitiful creature, famished and sickened. She learned it was his voice who searched for her so many times. He was trying to find her so he could kill the last family member and take their farm. She forgave him because that was all she could offer.
The family of Immaculee and the many situations that happened in the story, has had a profound effect on me. I pray silently during the day. I have a new lease on life where I am nurturing the concept of gratitude in my son. I believe in God more intensely that I ever had. Dr Wayne Dyer, a noted psychologist, wrote the forward. He said it is the most important book of all of his thousands. Now it is my most imporant book.
"Left to Tell" is told by Immaculee llibagiza of her horrific experiences of the genocide and how faith became front and center throughout her plight. Immaculee, born a Tutsi, was raised in a small village, where both Tutsis and Hutus lived in harmony. Her parents were well known and respected in the community. No such ethnic differences ever existed to Immaculee. That was until April 7th when the president's plane was inexplicably shot down, igniting the fuel that would begin the killing of thousands of ethnic Tutsis.
The core setting takes place in a small, tightly, confined bathroom in the home of a Hutu pastor. This bathroom is what would become a sanctuary for these women. Immaculee is sent to the pastor's home by her father, knowing that he would take her in. For 3 months, Immaculee and 6 other women were kept hidden inside the pastor's bathroom, sheltered from the atrocities surrounding them and surviving on meager scraps of left over food and a whole lot of prayer. It is prayer, faith, and forgiveness are the themes the book.
The Interhamwes' search through the home created an intense environment for Immaculee and the other women. But, a hopeful and spiritual Immaculee, using the rosary given by her father, prayed fervently to the Lord in what ultimately gave her sanity, serenity, and strength. In the end, Immaculee was saved when she made it to safety at the french army base and eventually the RPF base in Kigali. Hearing the tragic news of her parents' death along two brothers, left Immaculee devastated; she is indeed the only one "Left to Tell." Faith enabled Immaculee to forgive. With forgiveness, she moved on, started a family, and continues give public speeches about the tragic event, keeping alive the legacy of the Rwandan genocide.
20 years have passed since the slaughtering occurred. Numerous books have been published on genocide. Testimonies such as "Left to Tell" questions our moral obligations to humanity and world peace. The responsibility lies in each of us; strengths in numbers against genocide sends a strong message to political leaders. Leaders will act based on those pressures from the countless individuals, who wants to put an end on atrocities. An era in U.S history that can be used as an example is the Vietnam war. Regular, everyday people stood as a united front in protest to end the war. People from all over the country stood for a common cause. The same method could be applied to issues like this. Genocide can be something that existed in the pass and that has no place in the present or future.