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Rwandan genocide survivor speech is 'not to be missed'

By Selin Ildokuz
On February 14, 2013

  • Rwandan survivor and best-selling author Immaculee Illibagiza. Photo courtesy of Google Images


Seton Hall will host an event about the Rwandan genocide with a guest speaker at 4:30 p.m on March 13 in the Jubilee Hall.

New York Times best-selling author Immaculee Illibagiza was invited to return to Seton Hall to speak after student Wallace Weaver reached out to professor Nancy Enright, asking her to invite Illibagiza.

"As part of our Catholic mission, her talk is not to be missed," Enright said.

The freshman class of 2008 read Illibagiza's first book, "Left to Tell." Once they read her book, Illibagiza came to Seton Hall to tell about the Rwandan genocide.

"Many students do not even know about the Rwandan genocide, so for that reason alone her talk is important," Enright said.

Enright said that Illibagiza is a deeply spiritual woman and a devout Catholic whose faith enabled her to survive her ordeal.

"I can honestly say she is an extremely powerful speaker and at the same time, very warm and approachable, so I would imagine she would draw a crowd," Enright said.

In 1994 during the Rwandan genocide, Illibagiza was hidden with seven other women for 91 days in a small bathroom. The bathroom was less than 3 cubic feet. The genocide killed her mother, father and two brothers just outside, according to Enright.

Enright said besides Illibagiza, the only survivor of her family is her brother, Aimable, who was studying abroad when the genocide happened.

"Everyone has something painful in life that requires healing and forgiveness," Enright said. "I believe her story will impact anyone who listens openly to what she has to say."

Along with Enright, the people in charge of planning Illibagiza's visit were Director of the Center for Catholic Studies Monsignor Richard Liddy, director of programs of the Center for Catholic Studies Danute Nourse, chair woman of the English department and professor Dr. Mary Balkun and director of Campus Ministry the Rev. Stanley Gomes.

Illibagiza was featured on PBS in a "60 Minutes" segment that aired on July 1, 2007. Illibagiza has published three books, two in 2006 and one in 2008, according to Enright.

Selin Ildokuz can be reached at

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