Dr. Joseph Sebarenzi, former head of the Rwanda Parliament, he has endured tragedy most of us cannot fathom. He lost both his parents, seven siblings, and numerous other relatives in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Yet, years later, as a senior government official in a position to exact revenge, he instead pushed for peace and reconciliation. “Revenge is like adding guilt to victim hood.” says Sebarenzi. “It solves nothing. At some point, we have to ignore the past and envision the future.”
Sebarenzi grew up in Rwanda, and as a child saw glimpses of the tribal violence which years later would engulf his country. In 1994, when Hutu extremists slaughtered more than 800,000 Tutsis, Sebarenzi and his immediate family were safely out of the country, but many of Sebarenzi’s extended family were not so lucky. Returning to Rwanda, Sebarenzi rose through the ranks of Parliament, eventually becoming Speaker, third in power only to the country’s president. As the leader of parliament, Sebarenzi worked to improve good governance, speaking out for the independence of the legislature and against corruption in the government.
Forced to resign, and Informed of a plot to assassinate him, he fled Rwanda and found exile in the United States. He still champions a broad process of restorative justice in Rwanda as the country struggles with the ongoing effects of mass genocide and retaliatory killing among its Hutu and Tutsi people.
Sebarenzi teaches conflict resolution at the School for International Training, lectures on his experiences, consults, and works toward his PhD. Sebarenzi has also been an executive for national and international nonprofit organizations and a regular speaker on BBC and Voice of America. He plans to return to Rwanda eventually, and hopes his home country will soon be a safe place for people of all races, creeds and heritages.
For his college lectures, Sebarenzi tells his dramatic and historic story, and imparts a message of peace and forgiveness. This unforgettable and emotional program is perfect for International Studies departments, Genocide Programs, African Studies, Multi-Cultural Programs, Peace Groups, Progressive Groups, Christian organizations and keynote lectures. Whatever your group, Dr. Joseph Sebarenzi is a man of peace and grace whose message will not soon be forgotten.
“God Sleeps in Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation” – by Dr. Josephen Sebarenzi.
This memoir tells the story of Dr. Joseph Sebarenzi, whose parents, seven siblings, and countless other family members were among 800,000 Tutsi brutally murdered over the course of ninety days in 1994 by extremist Rwandan Hutu — an efficiency that exceeded even that of the Nazi Holocaust.
Outbreaks of ethnic violence had been occurring in Rwanda since colonial times when the Belgians ruled the region. As a child, Sebarenzi twice hid with his mother during episodes of killing, narrowly escaping with his life. When he was a teenager, his father sent him away to school in Congo, telling him, “If we are killed, you will survive.” Sebarenzi returned to Rwanda after the genocide and was elected speaker of parliament. But he then learned of a plot to assassinate him, leading him to once again flee the country in a daring escape.
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