October 17, 2013
Paul Rusesabagina: Peacekeeper, Shepherd, Saviour
Paul Rusesabagina is credited with housing and protecting twelve-hundred, sixty-eight refugees (both Hutu and Tutsi) during the Rwandan genocide, but he did not begin as an ordinary man. He was merely a hotel manager who saw something going terribly wrong and decided to do everything in his power to protect anyone he could. We know that all those refugees were saved solely by Paul Rusesabagina during the peak of the massacre in Rwanda, but how many lives did he save indirectly by his actions? Was the conflict in Rwanda (and the peace that followed) directly affected by the actions that Paul Rusesabagina took to ensure the safety of his family, friends, and the people in general? What role did Paul Rusesabagina play in the conflict and subsequent settlement of the Hutu/Tutsi conflict in Rwanda? I believe that he played three very separate and yet equally important roles: that if the peacekeeper, the shepherd, and the saviour.
Paul Rusesabagina has titled his autobiography “An Ordinary Man,” but he was truly anything but. He was born to a Hutu father and a Tutsi mother on July 15, 1954, and was a middle child in the midst of eight other children. Not only was he a well-educated boy, but he also was fluently bilingual in English and French by the age of 13. He adopted the role of a protector early in life when his family sheltered refugees during the initial stages of the conflict in the late 1950s and 1960s. He originally married a woman named Esther whom he fathered three children, and he aspired to become a minister of the Seventh Day Adventist church, but his seminary plans fell through in favour of entering the hospitality business and his marriage shortly followed. Six years after Paul’s divorce from Esther, he met Tatiana and although she was Tutsi he was no stranger to mixed-race marriage having been raised in one himself. In 1992 Paul Rusesabagina was given the title of assistant...
Cited: Fujii, Lee Ann. Killing Neighbors: Webs of Violence in Rwanda. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009. Print
Rusesabagina, Paul. An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography. Viking Penguin, 2006. Print.
Hotel Rwanda. Dir. Terry George, and Writ. Keir Pearson. United Artists, 2005. Film.
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