Genocide survivors open up in books, films

Thursday April 21 2022
Books by Rwanda's genocide survivors

Some of the books written by genocide survivors on sale at the Ikirezi bookshop in Kigali. PHOTO | MOSES GAHIGI | NMG


The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi not only shattered lives of those who survived it, but 28 years later it still has a lingering effect on them and how they cope with it.

Some fled abroad, to be as far away as possible from the horror and locked away the memories by refusing to share what they witnessed, as a coping mechanism and one way of starting afresh.

Those children are now adults, with doting families, some are successful professionals and business people.

Some are opening up and sharing their personal stories and testimonies on different platforms.

The books, in English, French and Kinyarwanda, can be found in bookshops in Kigali and at the Kigali Genocide Museum.

Although they have a central theme, each is different because no story is the same and expose peculiarities of the genocide, peeling away the different layers.


A recent book is Ma Mere m’a Tue’ (My Mother Killed Me), by Albert Nsengiyunva, who was seven years old at that time.

In Untamed beyond freedom, Celine Uwineza, recounts her life as 10-year-old during the genocide, witnessing her mother shot in the leg, and together with her family sought refuge in a convent in Kicukiro.

A few days later the militia returned and killed her mother and three siblings. She chronicles her hardships and battle with post-traumatic stress disorder later in life.

Judence Kayitesi’s A Broken Life, starts with how she suffered deep head cuts as she hid in a mosque. The injuries affected her memory and left her with speech impairment. She moved to Germany where she later regained her memory and speech.

Imaculee Ilibagiza one of the first genocide survivors to write about her ordeal in Left to Tell, has turned into a full-fledged author with a number of published titles to her name now.