Houssaynatou @ 'Miracle in Rwanda' - It’s hard to grasp that this play is based on a true story

What’s it about?

A solo show about the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

My experience.

I was shocked to see how the Lion Theatre has changed.

Fun fact: I used to usher at the Lion Theatre for my professor's shows. In addition to teaching at my alma mater, she produced theatre. It was so interesting to be on the other side: Instead of being an audience member, I was a part of the production. Though ushering was exhausting (especially nagging people), I enjoyed the small conversations I had with theatregoers in regards to why they chose to see the show.

Anyway, back to this show. I learned about the genocide in Rwanda when I was young because I watched the movie Hotel Rwanda. Unfortunately, I think that is the only reason most Americans know about that genocide. I do not recall reading about it in my high school textbooks. When it comes to learning history through the eyes of America, they show you what they want you to see. That is exactly why Americans can be such close-minded individuals. I know this because I am one of them. I grew up with a close-minded outlook due to my upbringing and my education. Thankfully, I have begun to grow out of it — slowly but surely.

When I first watched Hotel Rwanda, I could not take my eyes off the television. It captivated me in so many ways. Wrapping my mind around the fact that people were killing their countrymen simply because they were not from the same tribe was hard. As an African person, I am a part of one of the three main tribes (Fulani, Susu, Mandingo) in Guinea. The differences and, at times, dislike between the tribes is evident, but it has never come to killing one another. To know that the Rwandan genocide occurred in the 1990s versus, like, the 1940s is absolutely crazy. I would have hoped that after the Holocaust, countries would have realized that genocide is an act against humanity, and those who support it are evil. But there will always be the few who overpower others and commit horrible acts. 

It’s hard to realize this play is inspired by a true story. It was a one-woman show based on the experiences of Immaculée Ilibagiza, a real-life survivor, but the actress played multiple characters. What struck me and pulled on my heartstrings were the photos of Immaculée’s parents and brothers displayed on the ceiling. Tragically, they were all brutally killed simply because they were Tutsi and not Hutu. She survived because she hid in a small bathroom with seven other people in the house of a Hutu pastor for three months. After deciding to take her chances and flee to a nearby refugee camp run by the French, she prayed she would make it without getting killed. Even when you think he is not listening, God is listening! In your moments of weakness and strength, he will be there. I realized that early on when I encountered my lowest moment, and I will forever believe in the powers of the man upstairs. After much prayer, Immaculée arrived at the French camp unharmed and survived to tell her story. And the power of one person's story can change everything. 


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