Biography of Immaculée Ilibagiza

Immaculée Ilibagiza was born in 1972 in the village Mataba, which is located in Kibuye, a western province of Rwanda that borders Lake Kivu. She grew up with her parents and three brothers: Aimable and Damascene were five and three years older than her, and Vianney was three years younger. Her family, while not wealthy, was comfortably middle-class and valued education. She and her brothers were motivated students. Immaculée earned scholarships to a top national high school and went on to the National University on a scholarship as well, where she studied electrical and mechanical engineering.

When the Rwandan genocide began in 1994, Immaculée was 22 years old and home on holiday from her university. Her family was Tutsi, the smaller of the two primary ethnic groups in Rwanda. The other ethnic group, the Hutu, was discriminated against by the Dutch in the country's colonial history and the country was rife with ethnic tension. Immaculée survived the genocide by hiding in a small bathroom with seven other women in the home of a Hutu pastor. To stay sane and conquer her fear, she turned to God and became very religious while confined in hiding, often praying for 20 hours a day.

When the three-month genocide ended, most of Immaculée's immediate family was dead. Only her brother Aimable survived, because he was studying in Senegal. She wanted to spread the word of God's forgiveness, which she had discovered during the genocide, and went on to work at the UN and eventually became a motivational speaker and author. She now lives in America with her husband Bryan and their two children.

She established the Left to Tell Charitable Fund in 2007 to support Rwandan orphans and has honorary degrees from Saint John's University and The University of Notre Dame. In 2007 she received The Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace. She has written a sequel to Left to Tell called Led by Faith, as well as the book The Rosary.

Study Guides on Works by Immaculée Ilibagiza

Left to Tell is Immaculée Ilibagiza's memoir about her ordeal surviving the Rwandan Genocide. The book was published in 2006, 12 years after the 1994 genocide that claimed one million lives in 100 days. Immaculée recounts her life leading up to...