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Book Launch 2019

“On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Jean Jacques Bosco’s book, Nobody Knows: What Happened in Rwanda. I assumed it would be attended by a warm and intelligent crowd, as Jean Jacques tends to attract such people, however I had no idea it would be as well-attended, colourful and enlightening as it was. I counted almost fifty attendees who enthusiastically made their way to hear Jean Jacques speak. Among them was Audrey Brashick who was an important guide and encouragement to Jean Jacques in the writing process. Cindy-Hun and Dr. John Yee, supporters of Jean Jacques and JBST Soccer Academy, were also in attendance. Other attendees included long-time friends of Jean Jacques, Ferruccio and Rosa Susin and Marian Ma, with sisters Rida and Linda, and Dr. Mayda. The appreciation and support for Jean Jacques was palpable.

This was not just a simple reading and signing, Jean Jacques managed to bring the flavor and history of Rwanda to the room as well. The event opened with a jingle and a flourish as four beautiful Rwandan women performed a traditional Rwandan dance. Anthony Taylor did a wonderful job hosting the event, especially in his thoughtful questions to Jean Jacques. Particularly poignant was the introduction by Dr. Darryl Plecas, Professor Emeritus from the University of the Fraser Valley. Dr. Plecas’ respect and appreciation for Jean Jacques was apparent.

Finally, Jean Jacques stood up to speak. The audience was silent as Jean Jacques briefly explained the geography, politics and social context which gave rise to the conflict in Rwanda. Everyone seemed engrossed by the opportunity to learn about such a complex topic that is far removed from the lives of most Canadians. Jean Jacques spoke with the candor and authority that only someone who had lived through Rwanda in 1994 could. It was a precious and rare opportunity for Canadians, most of whom will only ever hear the mainstream discourse that has come out of Rwanda. Both in his talk and in his book, Jean Jacques offers a more nuanced and honest account of the genocides that took place against not only the Tutsi, but also the Hutu. The crowd was moved by Jean Jacques’ honesty, passion and emotion during the question and answer. It was evident that this book was Jean Jacques’ raison d’etre. He explained, “If I die tomorrow, it does not matter, I have done what I was put on this earth to do”. As he explained to the crowd, Jean Jacques has survived a genocide, exile, and false war crime allegations, only to fight tooth and nail to become a well-respected and contributing citizen in the academic, business and soccer communities in Canada. I highly recommend reading his harrowing and inspiring account in his book. I expect we will see many more great things from this passionate and courageous man.”

– Diane D.

Chapter 1 Excerpt: JJ Bosco

Horror

No one really knows what happened in Rwanda, but I can tell you with certainty that on the evening of April 6th, 1994, my life’s trajectory was forever altered. The twelve passengers on the presidential airplane weren’t the only ones whose lives were shot down that night. My dreams for the future – and the dreams of over eight million other Rwandans – were crushed in the events triggered by this assassination.

The death of President Habyarimana was the final straw in what had been a protracted and violent battle for power between Rwanda’s two dominant ethnic groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi. Hatred and violence between them is deep-rooted. Over four centuries {1} of intermittent power struggles have left a legacy of bitterness. In 1959 that bitterness erupted into what was called the Social Revolution, but was, in reality, a Hutu Revolution that killed many thousands of Tutsi, some Hutu, and a few number of expatriates in seven years of sporadic fighting with the Tutsi insurgency, forcing many others into exile in neighbouring Uganda. A thirty-year hiatus followed, during which conflicts lay relatively dormant and the economy boomed. But the Tutsi exiles in Throughout the evening of April 6th and long through the night I stayed glued to the radio. I wasn’t alone: my whole university {3} of about 1,500 students was frozen in anxiety. Hour after hour we hung on to the national radio broadcast, hoping vainly for more information. We stayed up the whole night waiting for news, far too burdened by imagined dangers to sleep.

By the morning of April 7th, ominous rumours were circulating about political assassinations in the capital, Kigali. And on the morning of the next day, April 8th, the threats of violence became real for us; by noon our once beautiful Mudende campus was littered with corpses. The bloodcurdling screams had left little to imagine; the dead bodies of classmates strewn across the grounds removed all doubt. The sight and smell of blood was overpowering, and waves of terror and grief went rippling through the campus.

Tutsi students and staff members were being brutally struck down with sticks, stones, machetes, clubs and whatever weapons came to hand. Those who had not yet been identified as Tutsi were frozen in fear; Hutu students were too terrified to intervene to prevent further bloodshed.

In Rwanda today, as I write this, it is the Hutu who take the blame for the horrible acts of the 1994 Tutsi genocide, and it is taboo to make any reference to the 1996 Hutu genocide that followed. However, you cannot blame an entire ethnic group for either of these despicable acts. At the Adventist University of Central Africa Mudende, a few Hutu rose to the occasion to help save Tutsi and vulnerable Hutu alike. We risked our own lives, and managed to spare quite a few. But in the narrative that has been constructed since the 1994 genocide, those who did as we did have been ignored or used as scapegoats and hunted down by Kagame’s regime, and the demonization of Hutu is thus complete.

I had nothing to do with the Tutsi genocide; I organized an evacuation from Mudende that saved many of my fellow students, both Tutsi and Hutu. But like so many others, I have endured years—and now decades—of discrimination and persecution. Rwanda can only heal as a nation when Hutu and Tutsi stop blaming one another for what happened. We must stop the cycle of lies, blame, and demonization that perpetuate hatred.

A few months after the start of the 1994 genocide, I began a life of exile. Like countless other Rwandans, I can never go back to the life I had. Twenty-five years later, the road of exile still stretches before me.

 

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