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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, with her beloved Rwanda taking stage, author Marie-Rose Rurangirwa shares the deeply personal and infinite consequences of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in a memoir and a novel.

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Rwanda Genocide

With Rwanda commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Genocide Against the Tutsi between 7th April and 4th July 2024, Marie-Rose Rurangirwa immerses readers in the realities of growing up in a socio-political system that perpetuated discrimination, devaluation, stigmatisation, stereotyping, prejudice, and isolation of the Tutsi for decades—paving the road to one of the worst and fastest genocides in modern history.

Through two different, but equally searing, accounts, Marie-Rose takes readers to the horrific genocide that found the inhabitants of the small African nation, also known as the land of a thousand hills, massacring each other. Her two books, one a memoir and the second, a novel, offer a poignant reminder of the consequences of a three-month period that changed lives and a country forever, both a testament to the human spirit, as well as being compelling, and often disturbing, reading.

Marie-Rose highlights the psychological damage caused to both to herself, and to her novel’s protagonists exiled from their cherished home country, as she immerses readers in the politics that caused the 1994 genocide and the Hutu Peasant Revolt of 1959; and the ripple effects and the consequences of both events, which are still felt by individuals and families decades later.

A Life In The Lost Years: A Genocide Survivor’s Journey Of Loss, Pain, Healing, Forgiveness, And Self-Discovery, Thirty Years On

In April 1994, political unrest in Rwanda led to one of the worst genocides in modern history. Marie-Rose Rurangirwa and her four siblings survived the genocide, but they lost half of their immediate family and dozens of extended family members.

While she escaped without physical wounds, she sustained mental and psychological damage and spent decades trying to piece her life together again. In her memoir, A Life In The Lost Years, she shares her journey from being a genocide survivor with trauma, identity crisis and inability to move on to a spiritual and emotional transformation through identity and faith crises to achieving forgiveness and healing. She explains that the human spirit can defy the odds and live a fulfilled life with a God-ordained purpose. Her experiences left her scarred by pain, loss, and guilt.

As we ran for safety to the only place, we considered safe – church, we were soon thrown out by a pastor, along with any other Tutsi families. Within a few miles we come to a roadblock and suddenly a towering, bulky man, recognises me. He calls me forward, ‘hey, you in a red jumper!’ He holds a machete in one hand, and a rifle in another. Looking down, not to watch my steps but to avoid his intense gaze, I am shaking as I approach him, and he raises my chin with the blood-spattered machete. It was then that I looked directly into his evil-filled face, with piercing bloodshot eyes.

-Marie-Rose Rurangirwa

A Nation Scattered

The 1959 Tutsi massacres in Rwanda divided a family, with some of its members forced into exile, for over thirty years. In A Nation Scattered, two brave brothers, Mugabo and Gisa, fight to stay connected to their roots and keep their family intact, despite the hardship they have to endure during their years of exile and the distance that divides their family.

When Rwanda is reduced to ashes by the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. The brothers’ desire to reunite with their homeland and family quickly turns into a harrowing experience as they grapple with the fear of not knowing if their family survived the ordeal.

As they return to Rwanda following the liberation of the country in July 1994, they are met with a flood of conflicting emotions and countless obstacles in the aftermath of the genocide. The brothers’ courage is put to the ultimate test – and they are compelled to find out what they are truly capable of.

Marie-Rose Rurangirwa

By sharing my story and the fictionalised narrative of Mugabo and Gisa, my hope is that many more will understand the meaning of life’s purpose. Although killings were legion, victims were individuals. Though the nation of Rwanda was destroyed, survivors are individuals, each with a unique testimony like mine.

Keen to inspire others who are struggling to find healing and bring attention to the long-term effects of unhealed trauma and intergenerational trauma, the current 30th anniversary of the genocide makes a perfect call upon the world to acknowledge these issues and work towards change.

Through my personal journey, I show how one can overcome one’s past and live a fulfilled life with purpose. My hope is that my story highlights the importance of keeping collective memory, can educate the world about humanity’s darker side, and can help those hurting.

-Marie-Rose Rurangirwa

Marie-Rose is a story whose deep acacia roots are tucked into the Land Of A Thousand Hills. She was born and raised in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city, where she lived with her large family until April 1994, when the genocide against the Tutsi broke out.

Now, she is a public speaker and a postcolonial literature enthusiast whose mission is to use the power of storytelling to share lessons from Rwanda, using her lived experience and drawing on those of others to educate the world about the dangers and long-term impact of growing up in a segregated socio-political system that perpetuated discrimination, devaluation, stigmatisation, stereotyping, prejudice, and isolation —paving the road to genocide.

She now lives in Oxford, in the UK—the place she has called home-away-from-home for nearly three decades. She warmly invites you on a journey where you will learn a lot more about her through her gripping journey as a genocide survivor, which has led her to finding her authentic identity and self. Her mission is to challenge people to stop and think about their worldview and show how prejudice and hatred impact societies.

Find more from Marie-Rose Rurangirwa now:

A Life In The Lost Years:

A Nation Scattered:

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