How does it feel to wake up every single morning for over three months facing the prospect that you and your newborn baby will almost certainly be brutally murdered that day?
This was the experience of Illuminée Nganemariya, a young Tutsi bride, now living in Norwich, England. Yet by a seeming miracle Illuminee, and her son Roger miraculously survived the 1994 attempt by Rwanda’s Hutu extremists to wipe their Tutsi neighbours from the face of the earth.
Illuminée existed for 100 days in the living hell of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, after watching her husband being dragged away to be killed by friends who had celebrated their wedding with them a month earlier.
Then she embarked on a horrific journey through the barbaric holocaust with her newborn son strapped to her back. At any moment a wrong move would have seen them join the 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus who were murdered in three months - at a faster rate than the Nazis achieved in their industrial gas chambers.
One of Africa’s most beautiful and fertile countries, Le Pays de Mille Collines – The Land of a Thousand Hills – Rwanda descended into pre-historic savagery. Fired by a cocktail of drugs and alcohol, the killers went about their work seemingly without remorse or mercy.
Friend murdered friend, slashing and cutting with machetes and bamboo spears. Thousands of women were casually gang-raped. Pregnant women had their unborn babies ripped from their wombs and smashed against the nearest tree or wall. ‘Lucky’ victims paid for a quicker despatch, courtesy of a bullet to the head.
Illuminée Nganemariya is a survivor. She has spent the last decade, living in Norwich, dealing with the trauma of her 100-day nightmare. She is believed to be the first survivor of the Rwandan genocide resident in Britain to tell a personal story of that experience. With the assistance of Paul Dickson, Illuminee has recounted her ordeal in this book to finally put the memory of those tragic events behind her.
It is one woman’s story of enormous personal courage and character -- but most of all it is testament to the indestructibility of the human spirit.
Miracle in Kigali, price £12 can be purchased via Paul Dickson Books www.pauldicksonbooks.co.uk/miracle-in-kigali ; also available as an ebook on all main ebook sites including Amazon.
Finalist in The Creative East Awards 2008 Best Factual Publication.