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God Sleeps in Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  331 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
Joseph Sebarenzi’s 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. His father sent him away to school in Congo as a teenager, telling him, “If we are killed, you will survive.” When Sebarenzi re ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Atria Books
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Ben Babcock
The Rwandan genocide is one of those events that looms in my mind as something that happened when I was alive but too young to really understand that there was a world outside of my country, or even my community, really. Politics was something that came via the television, an artifact of the history we were studying in school, not a daily fact of life. War and genocide was something that had happened in the past, long ago and far away. I was lucky, because I grew up in Canada, where hardship is ...more
Oct 25, 2009 Elgin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-events
This book offered a lot. First a very concise description of the history of Rwanda, then an account of
the author's experiences in regard to the genocide. Sebarenzi holds the descriptions of actual violence to a minimum. What is amazing is his journey from hatred and a desire for revenge to forgiveness and an amazing effort to bring reconciliation to his country. Joseph Sebarenzi is an incredible man.
If you wanted to know more about rwanda and their history on civil war and genocide, this is the best book by far. Saberanzi spoke right from his heart and it is translated in this book. From the history of hutu and tutsi, his childhood, his father, his term as a speaker and how he ended being betrayed by his own countrymen, all of it really touch the core of my heart. While living in exile, saberanzi continued his effort on reconciliation and forgiveness.
Mafoya Dossoumon
Oct 11, 2011 Mafoya Dossoumon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book provided a completely new perspective on Rwanda and the leadership style of President Paul Kagame. If the author is to be believed, the president of Rwanda ruthlessly deals with any dissent including physical elimination. I liked the fact that the author proposes solutions on how to foster sustainable peace in Rwanda. The author's life story is enthralling and gives food for thought.
Azwa Ahmad
Genocide-themed stories have always been my liking. However for this particular book, Sebarenzi has kept the violence best at minimal and educate the readers heavily on post-genocide reformations initiated by the government to rebuild the battle-scarred country.

For the first few chapters, he thrilled the readers with tidbits of his childhood memories –the description of Lake Kivu and his appreciation towards the lake and also the honor he felt derived from raising cows were few that I found war
Feb 09, 2011 Ines rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting this book to be more about the Rwanda genocide, but it wasn't because Sebarenzi wasn't in the country during the genocide, so he has no first-person accounts to tell thereof.

Nevertheless, the book was really interesting, and the writing flowed in a way that made it an enjoyable read. The greater part of the book focuses on Sebarenzi's political career as parliamentary speaker after the Rwandan genocide. He speaks a great deal about political corruption, fear, and autocratic rule
Jun 18, 2014 Michael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meh - had a difficult time getting past the amateurish writing and contradictory and omnipresent religious observations. Additionally his views are generally one-sided and while I appreciate that this is autobiographical there are ways of presenting alternate perspectives and/or grounding your experiences with historical references outside your bubble - the author was unwilling to do this to a fault and it therefore discounted most of his observations for me. Especially when measured against the ...more
Fon Lertviriyavanich
Me. Sebarenzi's story is very interesting and very much heartbreaking. However, I am very happy for him for the fact that he is able to get pass all the nightmares about the genocide and the threat of his life by the government and is now advocating about peaceful reconciliation.

I think his analysis on how to reunite Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda is very thought provoking. I agree with him that the reconciliation will have to start at the individual level. It is definitely rightful for the victims
April Helms
A very moving and powerful book. Sebarenzi had been sent to the Congo to further his education, and thus his life was spared during the 1994 Rwandan genocide- but his parents and most of his immediate family were slaughtered. Later he became the speaker of Rwandan's parliament (by his own admission because of his youth and lack of political experience; those in power hoped to manipulate him,) but once again had to flee his country with his family after he ran afoul of the country's vice presiden ...more
Kho Liang
Jun 01, 2015 Kho Liang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Emotionally stirring and thought provoking book. Joseph Sebarenzi put forth a very realistic question in this book, that is, when catastrophe of a huge magnitude strikes, and when stakes are high, how many of the international community are ready to help? "Never again", as the congregate of nations came together to pledge in the aftermath of the Holocaust, was nothing but an empty pledge as we now begin to see, that what really is at play is not ideology or human conscience, but power politics a ...more
Apr 26, 2009 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I cannot wait for it to come out in the fall so I can make as many people as possible read it.

I expected a memoir similar to Ishmael Beah's "A Long Way Gone", chronicling the experiences of a young boy during the Rwandan genocide. Sebarenzi's memoir does this, in part, but his memoir tells his story from boyhood into adulthood. This was an eye-opening read for me, because Sebarenzi lays out the political situation of the country in the years following the genocide, and it is d
Story of life in modern Rwanda from 1970's to present. He was sent to finish elementary and high school on an island in DRC and was one of the few members of his family to survive the genocide and he was Tutsi and had fled to Canada. After the genocide he and his wife went back to try to help rebuild the country and he became speaker of the house. But Kigame the VP who eventually became dictator forced him out again. A very powerful story of the tragedy in Rwanda but also of forgiveness. He work ...more
Jul 28, 2012 Shelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"This book is dedicated to all those who work for peace and reconciliation in Rwanda and in other parts of the world. May your commitment and dedication prosper, and may your work yield fruit in nations and in people's hearts.

I also dedicate this book to the brave men and women who took the risk to protect, hide, or rescue fellow Rwandans during the genocide in 1994 and to all the people around the world who endeavor to do good, even in evil times."

~ Joseph Sebarenzi

--- It is estimate
Jul 11, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book, because it gave a really concise but no-nonsense summary of the impact of colonization on ethnic conflict in Rwanda - I had no idea that the Belgian impact on Rwanda really exacerbated (though maybe not created) the conflict. It was a really personal account without being overly dramatic, which makes it all the more real. I also loved the pieces on reconciliation and forgiveness as the last few chapters - it reads like a beautifully written self-help book but in a way t ...more
Dec 10, 2012 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
This book gave a unique perspective on the rebuilding process that occurs after genocide. Sebarenzi's take is refreshing, albeit somewhat repetitive with his use of language at times, with emphasis on the complexity of corruption that comes with new nations (both newly independent and newly reformed). I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the Rwandan Genocide, who has read Dallaire and Orbinski, and would like a more comprehensive view on the political issues and governance.
Jun 14, 2014 Deb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this book a high rating because of the content, not the writing. A memoir by a man who was one of the first speakers of the house of the new democracy following the genocide. Extremely interesting look into the challenges of a new democracy particularly one in which the military holds a good portion of the seats in Parliament. It is cowritten by the subject of the memoir with someone whom I presume is a professional writer. It is not a match made in heaven in terms of the writing, tho ...more
Bob Alexander
Very interesting read for those interested in the current state of affairs in Rwanda written by a man who had to escape his country out of fear for the lives of himself and his family after serving in the Rwandan Parliament. Gives a new perspective on the current president of Rwanda and on what needs to happen in the areas of peace, harmony, forgiveness and reconciliation, not only in Rwanda, but in our own hearts.
Donna Burtwistle-Popplewell
A book about genocide is always going to be intense and shocking. In this book, Joseph Sebarenzi delivers a compelling first-hand account of the devestating history of Rwanda from his memories of childhood up to his current situation. It revealed a comprehensive timeline of the racism and ethnocentric culture of Rwanda, but also described a beautiful people who were merely pawns in the sights of their corrupt leaders. Eye-opening, for sure.
Interesting, informative and touching. I learned a lot about Rwanda and the current and former political structure there. Explains things very well so its a good choice for someone like me who read it knowing next to nothing about the genocide.

A bit repetitive. Many of the points were repeated several times throughout the novel. I would have liked to hear more about the genocide itself as opposed to the political aftermath. A little overboard on the faith/God aspects.
Fred Rose
"I sort of recommend this. A good beginning and end salvage it. A first hand account of growing up in Rwanda, before, during and after the genocide. The author is Tutsi and became speaker of the parliament after the genocide. That part is a little slow but the view of a person in that situation is worth reading. How the author deals with it and his forgiveness of others (and how he came to terms with that) are well worth reading."
Jan 07, 2016 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinatingly different take on Rwanda's recent trajectory. I've read a lot of positive reviews of the Kagame government; this was (unusually) a refreshingly critical take. A very quick read; I finished it over the course of a day of travel. Recommended for anyone who follow's Rwanda's political development. Makes me wonder what the story would have turned out like if Sebarenzi's story had been set in the late 2000s, rather than the late 1990s.
Carrie Emmerson
Aug 08, 2014 Carrie Emmerson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A powerful story, well told. He gives great insight into the history and politics of Rwanda, its 1994 genocide, and efforts to rebuild afterwards, based largely on his personal experience. Most powerful, though, is his positive message of reconciliation and commitment to his country, which persists despite great tragedy and those who conspire to hold power for themselves at the expense of others.
Feb 10, 2011 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting story of the Rwandan genocide. It isn't extremely graphic or gross. Tells this man's (Joseph Sebarenzi) story and how the genocide affected him. The transformation he addresses in the book is not only of his country, but of individuals. No matter the injustices that he suffered, he learned to forgive. Awesome book!
Mary-Michelle Moore
I was interested in this book after reading about the Rwandan genocide in articles from my Just Faith course. This is the first first-person survivor chronicle I've read and it's interesting that he is so critical of the the village apology tribunals when the other articles I've read have held them up as the epitome of forgiveness.
Jul 25, 2010 Erik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rwanda, politics, africa
Sebarenzi probably appeared half a dozen years too early in the post-1994 history of Rwanda. The country wasn't yet ready for the reforms he sought to make Parliament an effective legislative body and counter-balance to the Executive. But let us hope that more like him will appear on the Rwandan political scene, particularly as we move to a post-Kagame future in 2017.
Roger Miller
The book promises a journey of transformation and never delivers. The ingredient left out in the book is God's supernatural power to transform. Very human centered and self work centered. I can not see how democracy and hatred be a reality in Rwanda or any place without God first transforming the heart of man.
Feb 04, 2010 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was another book I just picked up at the library - strolling through and thought this would be a good read. It really was. The author's life story (so far) was inspiring and I really learned a lot about Rwandan history & politics. The book includes his life story as it was impacted by violence, genocide, and politics. Highly recommended.
I appreciate this book more than I liked it. Very educational about the basis of the conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda, which I did not nearly have enough information about. The story was distanced in a few part and did not necessarily read very well as a narrative, but it was still good overall and worth the read.
Seok Wei
Great insights into Rwanda genocide era and the country's political stance from within. It's a pity Joseph is but another victim of political play. 3 stars because the book is very self centric and It felt lengthy. Otherwise it's a great book and very insightful.
Sep 05, 2011 Gina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book because I learned a lot about the genocide in Rwanda, and it was told in a compelling manner. The only reason that I didn't give it four stars was because the end was a bit long for me. Great non-fiction read though.
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