Left To Tell

Presentation by Austin Sharkey

Author: Immaculée Ilibagiza

Immaculée Ilibagiza was born in Rwanda in the year 1972. Growing up, she spent most of her time with friends or family, and enjoyed her childhood greatly. She is a Roman Catholic and a Tutsi woman. In the 1994 Rwanda genocide, she hid with seven other woman in a bathroom for 91 days. Her entire family, apart from her brother, was slaughtered in the genocide. She believes that her Roman Catholic faith got her through that toughest time in her life
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The Rwandan Genocide

The different sides of the war were the Hutus and the Tutsis. The Hutus thought that they were superior to the Tutsis, and started a genocide (a mass killing) of the Hutu race. The war lasted for 100 day, before the United Nations came to aide. 500,000-1,000,000 people died in those few days.

[The below picture is of one of the lucky survivors of the genocide]

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Immaculée Ilibagiza grew up a happy child. She lived in a Roman Catholic, Tutsi family. She went to a university, where she studied speaking. When she visited home in 1990, she found out the the Tutsis and turned on the Hutus, and were slaughtering them. She went into hiding, and was stuck in a tiny bathroom, packed with seven other women. She sat in silence for weeks, fearing for her life, and catching glimpses of the outside world. Feeling alone and empty, she turned to her Roman Catholic faith to guide her through her struggle. She prayed for hours upon hours, and even received visions. Her, and the other women finally escaped after 92 days of being stuck in the bathroom, and found safety. She forgave the killers of her people.

Quotes from the book

“But I came to learn that God never shows us something we aren't ready to understand. Instead, He lets us see what we need to see, when we need to see it. He'll wait until our eyes and hearts are open to Him, and then when we're ready, He will plant our feet on the path that's best for us...but it's up to us to do the walking.”

“I realized that my battle to survive this war would have to be fought inside of me.”

“Instead of negotiating or begging for mercy, [my brother Damascene] challenged them to kill him. "Go ahead," he said. "What are you waiting for? Today is my day to go to God. I can feel Him all around us. He is watching, waiting to take me home. Go ahead--finish your work and send me to paradise. I pity you for killing people like it's some kind of child's game. Murder is no game: If you offend God, you will pay for your fun. The blood of the innocent people you cut down will follow you to your reckoning. But I am praying for you. . . I pray that you see the evil you're doing and ask God's forgiveness before it's too late.”

Biggest theme

A belief is strong enough to keep someone motivated

Writer's Purpose

Immaculée Ilibagiza wrote this book to tell about the Rwandan Genocide, but also her own personal story.

Biggest Symbol

In the story, Imaculee receives different religious images, which symbolizes that God was watching over, and caring for her.

[The below video shows a couple of symbols, and will educate you on the Rwandan Genocide]

Ghosts of Rwanda

My Reaction

Reading the book, i was surprised about the ruthlessness of the Tutsi people, and how they turned on their Hutu counterparts. I usually don't have a problem with reading gruesome books, but this was a true story and almost made me sick to my stomach. The book focused on religion, and how it got immaculee through her tough time.


The book, Left To Tell, was a beautifully written book, but even so I would not recommend it to everyone. It goes into extreme, gruesome detail, and is about a dark point in the world's history. Nobody younger than the age 15 should read this book, and even then people without a tolerance should stay away from it.

Letter to the author:

Immaculée Ilibagiza,

I have so much respect towards you, for not only surviving the horrid Rwanda Genocide, but your story about how you inspired other women to live. It amazed me reading your book, and learning about the war itself. You truly serve as an idol, and a motivational figure to anyone else in a tough time. Thank you for writing this astonishing book.

Austin Sharkey