Book Review: Left to Tell and Led by Faith by Imaculee Ilibagiza

“He left me to tell my story to others and show as many people as possible the leading power of his Love and Forgiveness” Imaculee Ilibagiza

We have all heard about the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994 and claimed close to 1,000,000 lives in 100 days. Most people have also watched’ Hotel Rwanda’ and ‘Sometime in April’, two movies that tell the story of the genocide.

howtel rwandaapril

Left to Tell: Discovering God amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculée Ilibagiza was the first book that I found concerning the genocide.


Below is the book’s synopsis:

Immaculée Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Immaculee’s family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans. Incredibly, Immaculée survived the slaughter. For 91 days, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor while hundreds of machete-wielding killers hunted for them.

It was during those endless hours of unspeakable terror that Immaculee discovered the power of prayer, eventually shedding her fear of death and forging a profound and lasting relationship with God. She emerged from her bathroom hideout having discovered the meaning of truly unconditional love—a love so strong she was able seek out and forgive her family’s killers. The triumphant story of this remarkable young woman’s journey through the darkness of genocide will inspire anyone whose life has been touched by fear, suffering, and loss.

Immaculee shares her miraculous story of how she survived during the Rwanda genocide in 1994 when she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor’s house for 91 days! In this captivating and inspiring book, Immacuee shows us how to embrace the power of prayer, forge a profound and lasting relationship with God, and discover the importance of forgiveness and the meaning of truly unconditional love and understanding—through our darkest hours.

Left to Tell is a memoir by Immaculée Ilibagiza. In the first section of the book, she talks about her life before the genocide. She was raised in a nice family and her parents worked hard to provide the best for Immaculée and her three brothers. Immaculée is Tusti. She explains that although the tension between the Hutus and Tutsis has always been there, the two communities tried to peacefully co-exist. In fact, they had friends from the Hutu community and she even dated a man from who was Hutu.

The genocide begins when Immaculée is home for the Easter holiday. She makes it to a Hutu Pastor’s home who agrees to hide her and 7 other Tutsis in his bathroom. Amazingly, Immaculée and the 7 others stay in the bathroom for 91 days without ever stepping out. It is during this time that she finds God and starts praying so as to get in the right mind frame to survive the ordeal. To pass time, she also teaches herself English using two books given to them by the pastor.

Left to Tell by Immaculée Ilibagiza is one of the saddest yet nerve-wracking books that I have ever read. I kept wondering if the women will survive the ordeal. The killers kept coming close and eventually got into the house. There is so much loss and pain that the characters experience that sometimes I wondered whether it as humanly possible to survive such an ordeal. Death of a loved one is unimaginably painful but how does one deal with multiple deaths and loss, all happening at the same time.

“I am humbled by the extraordinary spirituality that shines throughout Immaculee Ilibagiza’s story of terror, endurance, healing, and forgiveness. As a Rwandan, I am proud that we can look beyond the misconceived differences that resulted in the murder of so many of our children, men, and women in 1994. Immaculee’s account of genocide survival is truly astonishing. It gives us hope of overcoming the divisions deliberately created by those with self-serving agendas and no thought for humanity.
Everyone should read this story—survivors as well as perpetrators. I hope that all can experience Immaculee’s profound spiritual transformation and be inspired to work for a united and lasting nation.”
-Jeannette Kagame, First Lady of the Republic of Rwanda

This book teaches readers about the power of prayer and forgiveness. Immaculée is a remarkable young women and her story will inspire everyone who gets to read it. This is not the kind of book that you read for entertainment; it is an important book that should be read by everyone especially in Africa where tribalism is still rampant. In 2007, Kenya experienced post-election violence that left over a thousand people dead in its wake. We should learn to shun tribalism as Kenyans especially after seeing how much devastation to can bring to a nation.

“Left to Tell reminds us that we are all sons and daughters of God; that with faith, miracles will always appear; and that forgiveness is the key to freedom. A must-read for all of us in these troubled times.”
-Colette Baron-Reid, the author of Remembering the Future

Led by Faith: Rising from the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide

After the genocide, Immaculée like the rest of her countrymen is trying to rebuild her life. Once again, she explains the critical role that her faith in God played in helping her pick the pieces of her life. She details her life in Rwanda after the genocide and later in America where she moved with her family.
In Led by faith, Immaculée also shares her journey of finding a publisher for her first book, Left to Tell.
We may all have heard the story of the Rwandan Genocide. However, Imaculee’s story still stands out because it’s a story about faith in God and forgiveness. It’s hard to imagine forgiving people who have hurt you in the worst way possible by murdering your family. However, Imaculee explains about how she found the strength to forgive and move on.These are two books that I truly think everyone should read.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Left to Tell and Led by Faith by Imaculee Ilibagiza

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