In Rwanda, Yolande Mukagasana is a well-known writer, public figure and campaigner for remembrance of the genocide.
She has authored three testimonies, a collection of interviews with survivors and perpetrators and two volumes of Rwandan stories. Her work has received numerous international prizes, including an Honourable Mention for the UNESCO Education for Peace Prize.
Not My Time to Die was the first survivor testimony to be published in French as La mort ne veut pas de moi in 1997. The book is the personal account of Yolande's life as a nurse and mother of three who ran her own health clinic.
“She was educated and spoke her own mind,” says Dr Norridge. “People needed her and were jealous of her. In the book, we follow her footsteps, feel something of her fear, admire her daring and share in her hope that her children will survive.”
Yolande was separated from her family and forced to flee, but didn’t lose hope of finding her three children alive.
Through the massacres, she lost her children and witnessed her husband being killed. Dr Norridge says she conveys these stories with layers of familial intimacy and through remembered conversations.
“Mukagasana shows us her full self, even when doing so doesn’t present her as a saintly survivor but instead as a brave, muddled and multi-faceted human being. Such stories remind us of the urgency of responding to violence. To sense this urgency we need to feel the costs of genocide.” Dr Norridge adds.