Immaculee Ilibagiza






Hay House, June 2007
Reviewed by Sally Roddom


LEFT TO TELL is the story of a survivor of the 1994 genocide of Tutsi tribe by the Hutu tribe. Both tribes lived in the country of Rawanda and had tussled for centuries. Immaculee was twenty-two years old; she was spending semester break with her family when the assassination of the Rawandan president triggered a three month killing spree in the country. Immaculee and six other women were hidden in the ensuite bathroom of a Hutu pastor for 90 days while up to 800,000 Tutsi men, women and children were slaughtered.

Guessing her family was probably dead, Immaculee tells the story of her fight for life. How she finds, and then clings to, her utter faith that God would keep her safe, and the miracles that occurred to keep her safe, are the basis of the story. The horrors that she witnessed are tiny when compared to the wholesale atrocities that happened across Rawanda. Yet her faith brings her to the point where she can forgive her countrymen, even the killers of her family.

That she is a devout Christian is not questioned - if you do not like reading about people's faith, this book is not for you. I cannot imagine ever living through something like this. That she is helping rebuild her country without hatred is a testimony to her wonderful character. She is right in her insistence that hate begets hate. She is quite open about the fact that her Tutsi tribe committed atrocity towards Hutu's in the past. She is saying enough is enough, it has to stop. The people from both tribes have to learn to live together and not follow the ever circling round of hatred and violence.

LEFT TO TELL has the WOW factor that made it a top read. It has left me thinking about what humans do to each other and, sadly, it seems every generation something catastrophic like this happens. Will it ever stop? I doubt it, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep trying, like Immaculee, to build bridges to peace.

Jan 2008


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