One of the people in a faith formation program I’m leading at church recently asked me if I had ever heard of the book Left To Tell written by a Rwandan woman named Immaculee Ilibagiza.
When I told her I had never heard of the book, she promised to loan me her copy, which she brought the following week.
I was in the midst of reading another book at the time, and it was only over last weekend that I was able to get into this powerful story about the Rwandan holocaust which took place in 1994.
As hard as it is to believe, over one million people were slaughtered in about a three-month span. Immaculee, who lost most of her family, including her parents, survived by hiding in a tiny bathroom with seven other women for 91 days. Because Immaculee was well-known in her community, hundreds of machete-wielding killers hunted for her.
The genocide took place because of a long simmering ethnic conflict between the Tutsis and Hutu tribes of Rwanda. There had been flare-ups over the years, but it was the assassination of the Hutu president that led to the horrible violence that took so many lives.
Left To Tell is a very moving book, not so much a story of the near elimination of a ethnic population, but rather the faith of one person to keep herself together despite the most deplorable conditions.
As I was reading the book, it was hard for me to believe that such events took place less than twenty years ago.
Sadly, if we took a close look around the world today, the outright slaughter of other people continue, often due to ethnic hatred that has been simmering for years. Will we ever learn?
I think you need to buy this book. On top of it being a great story of overcoming the worst possible situations, it’s a reminder to us that when we’re wallowing in self-pity, thinking of how bad we may have it, in reality we continue to have it pretty good. We should be grateful each and every day for all that we have.