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  Photo Gallery - Renowned author Immaculeé Ilibagiza addresses a full house of readers.

One Book One Community Author Immaculeé Ilibagiza Shares her Experience with the Baton Rouge Community

On Thursday, July 31, author of One Book One Community selection, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, Immaculeé Ilibagiza addressed Baton Rouge community readers and discussed her experience surviving the Rwandan holocaust in 1994.

“I never thought that even 10 people would read my book,” Ilibagiza said. “I was thinking maybe one person, who is going through a hardship, will pick it up and read and find a smile, find the courage to go on. So to see the world reading it, it is beyond anything I expected.”

Ilibagiza discussed the events leading up to the and through the Rwandan holocaust during the One Book One Community event at LSU’s Cox Communications Academic Center for Student Athletes. Following the discussion, she participated in a question and answer session with the audience, where she talked about her current life, how she got her book published and her soon to be released follow-up, Led by Faith. The evening ended with a book signing.

  image  Audio & Video: Ilibagiza's
“If it wasn’t for faith … I wouldn’t be here,” Ilibagiza said. “Anyone has the capacity to do something. Don’t undermine the power of prayer.”

“Left to Tell” is Ilibagiza’s memoir about surviving the Rwandan holocaust when the Hutus began genocide over the Tutsi. To escape from the slaughter, Ilibagiza and seven other women sought refuge for 91 days in a benevolent Hutu pastor’s house.

“‘Left to Tell’ is a powerful story of a young woman who survived the Rwandan genocide because a pastor risked his life to hide her and a couple of other women in a concealed bathroom in his home. The author speaks about her faith in God as getting her through the ordeal, but I think it is a wonderful tale about the selflessness of her host,” said Barbara Apostolou, Ernst and Young Alumni Distinguished Professor of accounting at LSU.

Ilibagiza has appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes, and her story has been made into a documentary titled The Diary of Immaculée. In addition, she has been recognized with numerous humanitarian awards including The Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace in 2007 and American Legacy’s Women of Strength & Courage Award.

“I didn’t want to write it. I was feeling that I had left that horrible experience so why share that with people and make them cry?” Ilibagiza said. “But somehow, anytime I spoke about it with friends at the United Nations, I would always find somebody who smiles after I had told them this story, who would tell me that your story has made me realize that I don’t have any problems, I can put things in perspective … and it’s really that that pushed me to write it. I didn’t want to hold back and wrote everything.”

One Book One Community is a community-wide reading program, covering nine parishes surrounding the Greater Baton Rouge area.    The program, kicked off on June 7 by Mayor-President Kip Holden, creates a citywide book club that aims to use a common reading experience as the motivation for the intellectual and cultural exchange of dialogue and ideas in order to raise awareness and visibility about a relevant global or community issue.

One Book One Community organizing sponsors include Baton Rouge Community College, East Baton Rouge Parish Library, Forum 35, LSU, Hay House Inc., Redstick Internet Services, Southern University and YWCA Greater Baton Rouge. Other sponsors include 225, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, Country Roads, Cox Communications, Clear Channel Radio, Friends of LPB, WRKF, Barnes & Noble and Starbucks Coffee Company.

More information and schedules of events can be found at http://www.readonebook.org/.

Ernie Ballard | LSU Office of Public Affairs
Summer 2008

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