Former President of the Rwandan Parliament. Rwandan Genocide Survivor. Loving Husband and Father. American Patriot. Humanitarian. Inspiration. Motivational speaker. Teacher. Advocate of peace and forgiveness.
Author of “God Sleeps in Rwanda.”
Joseph Sebarenzi was raised in a loving family in Rwanda, a country rich in natural beauty. The country is so beautiful that the title of his book “God Sleeps in Rwanda” is based on an old saying, “God spends the day elsewhere, but He sleeps in Rwanda.”
However, in the glorious backdrop of God’s creation was a history of government-sponsored violence between its two major ethnic groups: Hutu and Tutsi.
It wasn’t always that way.
Initially the King of Rwanda favored the Tutsis, as he was himself a Tutsi.
Yet Tutsi and Hutu coexisted in harmony, despite their separate ethnicity.
That would all change.
Rwanda was taken over by Germany, who took little interest in the country. However, once the Belgians seized control, their “scientists” robbed Rwandans of their cohesiveness and created a “we vs. them” mindset.
Belgian scientists went to great lengths to study the differences between Tutsi and Hutu. Their data recorded differences in height and nose width.
They deducted that Tutsis were a superior ethnic group, and they stripped Hutu of the right to government leadership positions.
For the first time in their lives Rwandans felt separate from one another.
Outsiders viewing the Tutsis and Hutus would consider them to be of the same ethnic group.
However, this chapter in history proves that race-baiting and identity politics has no boundaries, no limit. And that the motivation for this division is as indescribably evil as is the inevitable end result.
Things went from bad to worse.
When the Tutsi’s rebelled and pushed for freedom from Belgian control, Belgians turned the tables in retaliation by replacing all Tutsis in leadership positions with Hutu in order to preserve their control. It was then the Hutu who eventually took control when Belgians granted independence to Rwanda.
Under Hutu government control, Tutsis were blamed for all the woes of the Hutus. They were stripped of opportunities for education and employment.
Tutsi children were humiliated in school by their teachers and classmates, making them feel ashamed of who they were.
The Hutus were able to justify mass murder and humiliation because they wore the cloak of victim, painting the Tutsi as the aggressors.
It’s a textbook approach to genocide.
A muyaga hits home.
Mass murder was ignited by a finger flick from the corrupt power-mongers in charge.
The Hutus’ bloody machete-wielding attacks swept through the country with an unimaginable ferocity on a moment’s notice and would end abruptly at the sounding of a drum. Rwandans call the attacks muyaga, meaning “wind.” It was a fitting description of the nature of the violence. It would come suddenly and forcefully and and then, just as suddenly as it came, it would stop.
As one of the muyaga blew through the country, Joseph’s father hid in a nearby field.
Joseph, his mother, brother and niece hid under the bed in their neighbor’s house. From their hiding location, they listened in terror as the Hutu mob ripped through the corrugated metal of the house with machetes.
In response, his father sent Joseph to live in Congo with relatives.
He told Joseph, “If we are killed, you will survive.”
His father not only felt that Joseph would be safer there, but also because of government discrimination against the Tutsis, it was the only way his son could get an education.
So as a teen Joseph was separated from his loving family He had to adjust to challenging differences in the home of his distant relatives as well as their culture and lifestyle.
After finishing his education Joseph returned to Rwanda.
He began his career as a high school teacher and later, as an executive in non-government organizations.
Heeding the needs of his country, he became involved in the Rwandan Parliament. He rose to become Speaker, a position that put him third in power to the President.
As honorable as the position was, it put him in grave danger.
Joseph’s position in the Parliament was to oversee-and, if needed, to challenge-the government put him at odds with Rwanda’s corrupt military leader, Paul Kagame.
When Joseph learned of Kagame’s plot to assassinate him, he narrowly escaped his homeland.
The Rwandan Genocide
The Rwandan genocide that is most widely known tapped into the orchestrated, generational bitterness, pitting Hutus against the Tutsis.
When President Habyarimana’s plane was shot down, the Hutus were unleashed.
Unimaginable violence swept through the country.
Roughly 85 percent of the Tutsi population was decimated.
From April through July of 1994, Hutu soldiers brutally slaughtered over 800,000 men, women and children, hacking them with machetes.
In addition, 250,000 women became victims of sexual violence. 70% of the women who survived were infected with HIV. Some were impregnated. Their children would bear a tragic legacy, burdened by the shame and stigma of having been born of weaponized rape rather than love.
Joseph, his wife and their two sons were safe.
Fortunately, Joseph and his wife Liberata saw the writing on the wall and escaped before the Rwandan Genocide. However, they had to escape separately. The time spent apart from his wife and two sons was agonizing.
Joseph eventually found refuge in Michigan. From there he watched the news in horror as the events of the Rwandan Genocide unfolded. He knew “with gut wrenching certainty” that his family had all been killed. Tragically, Dr. Sebarenzi lost his parents, seven siblings and many other family members and friends.
Shocking information about America’s role is revealed in “God Sleeps in Rwanda.”
- Then-President Bill Clinton, his Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Susan Rice, Bob Dole and others were well aware of the situation, yet chose to do nothing.
- To be clear, they didn’t exactly do nothing. They supported the Rwandan Genocide with deadly semantics by avoiding the word “genocide.”
- By playing word-games, the Clinton Administration blocked UN intervention.
- UN Peacekeeping troops abandoned Tutsis and pulled out of the region.
- The UN requested that the Pentagon at least help to slow the attacks by jamming the airwaves of the government’s propaganda radio that encouraged citizens to kill. Clinton refused, citing the expense.
- Yet if money were the only roadblock to helping the Rwandans, Sebarenzi explains in his book that Clinton could have done something to help-for free. He didn’t.
- Bill Clinton expressed “regret” over not doing more to prevent the genocide, but has not expressed regret for enabling it.
- His conscience couldn’t have been nagging at him too much. Clinton chose to miss a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate his professed regret to survivors.
- It’s also impossible to imagine that Bill Clinton’s “regret” is sincere, since in the aftermath of this brutal genocide, he has gushed that Kagame is “one of the greatest leaders of our time.”
God Sleeps in Rwanda is a must-read and a must-share.
Race-baiting, encouraging envy, indoctrinating students, inciting violence and wielding propaganda leads to unimaginable, large scale crimes against humanity.
For corrupt “leaders,” human beings are nothing more than “collateral damage.”
Simon and Schuster posted this 3 minute interview with Joseph Sebarenzi. He warns us all that genocide can happen at anytime, anywhere.
Dr. Sebarenzi is truly a Real Great American
In spite of all that Joseph Sebarenzi has endured, he rejects hatred, bitterness and revenge. Instead, he chooses to forgive, to love, to inspire, and to educate.
He’s been a US citizen for 10 years. His beautiful wife Liberata and their two sons, Respect and Pacifique, were able to join him here. They have also been blessed with three daughters-Esther, Nicole, and Sandrine.
We are truly blessed as a nation to count Joseph Sebarenzi among us, inspiring others to choose Light rather than darkness.
Invite Joseph Sebarenzi to speak at your church or institution.
Dr. Sebarenzi is a nationally recognized, non partisan speaker.
As stated on his website,
Joseph Sebarenzi speaks about reconciliation, forgiveness, and conflict management at colleges, universities, and events in the United States; and regularly appears and speaks on radio and TV including NPR, BBC and Voice of America.
If you would like Mr. Sebarenzi to speak at your institution or church, please contact him through Wolfman Productions Inc. or call (800) 735-4933.
To show Joseph your love and appreciation…
Use the SpotIM comments system below this post, or directly on the Real Great Americans facebook page. He will never see your sentiments if you only comment within your facebook group. Also-please share if you agree that Joseph Sebarenzi’s message needs to be heard.
My deepest thanks to Dr. Sebarenzi for his consent to write this post. It is truly an honor.
Buy God Sleeps in Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation now! It’s a must-read!
Note~Not only was I shocked and deeply moved by his book, I was inspired to continue to promote “God Sleeps in Rwanda” and sell it through my new Amazon associate page.
The book has a kindle version on Amazon and in a month or so will have an audiobook version on Audible.
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Sources/Relevant Links-Joseph Sebarenzi
Simon& Schuster-speaker profile