This is the book that started it all for me again. I had always known at the back of my mind that sooner or later I was going to have to face up to my horror and read up about the Rwandan genocide. Once I picked up this book in late 2007, it started a process of discovery for me and culminated in me forming this blog.
There have been several books written on the genocide by people from all walks of life. Sociologists, journalists, a United Nations general and a hotel operator have all written excellent and compelling books but this book was written by a normal, everyday woman. Immaculée Ilibagiza was a student in 1994, just like me, and she had gone home for the April holidays, just like I used to do. The difference is that Immaculée is Tutsi.
Left to Tell is the story of how her entire family was killed in the genocide and how she was hidden in the bathroom of a local pastor along with seven other women for 91 days. There were days on end when the pastor could not secret away food to them as he had not even told his family that he was hiding the women and they suffered from starvation, dehydration and the wasting of their limbs. They could not stand, exercise or even stretch their legs.
Immaculée is a devout Catholic and in this book she talks of the miracles that occurred and how her faith carried her through the most trying period of her life. I’m not a religious person but I found this book to be absolutely inspiring and incredible.
I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to see what happened in the genocide through the eyes of a survivor. This is an excellent introduction to anyone wishing to know more about the events but who does not feel ready to ready one of the more technical or complex books. Just make sure that you have a box of tissues handy because this book is absolutely touching.
Immaculée has written two more books since this one and maintains a blog too in which she speaks of her faith and the journey she has take since 1994. The blog is simply called Immaculée.