When Immaculeé Ilibagiza was born, her parents selected the perfect surname. “In Rwanda, every family member has a different last name,” she writes in her book, Left to Tell – Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust. “Parents give each child a unique surname at birth, one that reflects the feelings of the mother or father at the moment they first lay eyes on their new baby.” (Left to Tell, pg. 5)
Translated, Ilibagiza means “shining and beautiful in body and soul.” No truer words could describe this courageous female author who is a survivor of the 1994 genocide that took one million lives in 100 days in an unspeakably horrific war between Rwandan tribes.
Ilibagiza never knew violence, growing up in a loving home with educated parents who regularly helped out the less fortunate. She didn’t even know she was part of a tribe until a Hutu extremist teacher called for an “ethnic role call” in school and her parents revealed to her that she was a Tutsi. Although her identity thus far had been neatly wrapped up in her Catholic faith, education, evening prayers, and family’s love, Ilibagiza suffered the unfortunate baptism into the violence and divide that unwrapped and exposed her. It shut down a country and forever changed its landscape.
Instead of letting hatred and evil take hold of her own heart, Ilibagiza uses her experience to strengthen her relationship with God and “move mountains.” Amidst the killers chanting “Kill the cockroaches!” the swinging machetes that led to piles of rotting corpses, the loss of her family, the betrayal of her Hutu friends, boyfriend and others, she resolves to sharpen her focus on the one and only relationship she can trust – one with God.
A truly gripping page-turner, this woman’s against-all-odds survival from the killers of the Hutu tribe covers moment-to-moment accounts of near death experiences, while Ilibagiza and seven other Tutsis hid in a tiny bathroom for three months and lived, despite circumstances that claimed the lives of nearly everyone in their village. It’s proof to any reasonably thinking person that God does exist.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book goes to the LEFT TO TELL Charitable Fund, which helps Africa’s orphaned children.