Sunday, 12 April 2020

Our Lady Of Kibeho by Immaculee Ilibagiza

Our Lady Of Kibeho by Immaculee Ilibagiza
Published by Hay House Inc on the 28th November 2008.

O for my 2020 Alphabet Soup Challenge

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook via Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thirteen years before the bloody 1994 genocide that swept across Rwanda and left more than a million people dead, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ appeared to eight young people in the remote village of Kibeho. Through these visionaries, Mary and Jesus warned of the looming holocaust, which they assured could be averted if Rwandans opened their hearts to God and embraced His love. 

Much like what happened at similar sites such as Fátima and Lourdes, the messengers of Kibeho were at first mocked and disbelieved. But as miracle after miracle occurred in the tiny village, tens of thousands of Rwandans journeyed to Kibeho to behold the apparitions. For years, countless onlookers watched as the Mother and Son of God spoke through the eight seers about God’s love, sending messages that they insisted were meant not only for Rwandans, but for the entire world, to hear. Mary also sent messages to government and church leaders to instruct them how to end the ethnic hatred simmering in their country. She warned them that Rwanda would become “a river of blood” —a land of unspeakable carnage —if the hatred of the people was not quickly quelled by love. 

Some leaders listened, but very few believed: the prophetic and apocalyptic warnings tragically came true during 100 horrifying days of savage bloodletting and mass murder. After the genocide, and two decades of rigorous investigation, Our Lady of Kibeho became the first and only Vatican-approved Marian (that is, related to the Virgin Mary) site in all of Africa. But the story still remains largely unknown. 

Now, Immaculée Ilibagiza plans to change all that. She made many pilgrimages to Kibeho both before and after the holocaust, personally witnessed true miracles, and spoke with a number of the visionaries themselves. What she’s discovered will deeply touch your heart.

I chose to read Our Lady Of Kibeho as my fifth Rwandan WorldReads book because I wanted something that showed there's more to this country than the 1994 genocide which has become synonymous with Rwanda. Discovering the events which occurred at an isolated rural village, Kibeho, thirteen years earlier allowed me this. I'm not Catholic, or religious in any way, myself, but I was still amazed that I had never previously heard of Kibeho. After all, the similar Marian sites in Europe, Fatima and Lourdes, are famed worldwide. Perhaps Kibeho will join their ranks once it has sufficient infrastructure in place to cater to the needs of as many visitors?

In this book, Immaculee Ilibagiza, who was still a child at the time of the first Kibeho apparitions, recounts her memories of how the phenomena were received by herself and her family. She manages to recount much of what each visionary said, word for word, thanks to tape recordings made at the time and this gives a sense of immediacy to the work. Ilibagiza's own faith and enthusiasm shines through her writing, especially as she describes the excitement which swept through Rwanda as news of the Kibeho apparitions spread. That something so joyful which brought so many people together could precede such darkness and violence only adds to the later horror. I appreciated that Ilibagiza doesn't overdo the foreshadowing, but for me as a reader it was hard to avoid seeing 1980s Kibeho without an awareness of 1994.

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  1. I actually really like the idea of reading a book about Rwanda which is not trauma based and focused on the genocide. Sounds like the author does the foreshadowing perfectly because it is not overdone but it also just enough to be very effective. Great review x

    1. Thanks Olivia :-)
      I was happy to find Our Lady with its positive messages and a different portrayal of this country.